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.

 

 

The basic mug rug is from Kimberbell.     The CD offers a  variety of holiday and seasonal designs and quilting patterns.  I preferred to use my own personalized designs and select a quilting pattern from those offered.  The instructions are excellent.

I’ve had this cashmere quality scarf hanging around the sewing room for sometime and it caught Rheeta’s eye.  It is sooo soft.  So I monogrammed it for her.  She can really use it for the next 3 months of winter up  there!

 

It’s a funny thing about Aunt Rheeta’s visits.  She absolutely loves to see the azaleas in bloom.  She has come in January, February and March.  But whenever she comes, the azaleas have begun to bloom a few days before her arrival and are in full bloom before she leaves.  I think they do it just to please her. See the header.  That’s what my yard looks like when she is here.

My  latest and most time consuming project is sewing Garments for Ghana.  Our family doctor and his nurse wife, members of our church, took it upon themselves to go, on their own with a few friends, to Ghana on a medical mission trip last summer.  They are returning this summer with more medical staff and mentioned that there is a great need for children’s clothing.  So we are meeting every Thursday at our EPC River City Church to make boys shorts and girls dresses  and  having a fabulous time.  I make the kits and it is keeping me jumping!

More about this in a future post, but here are a few pictures of our finished garments.

The dresses are cut from an excellent etsy .pdf pattern from 5berries called Cecelia.  It is sized from 1-12. This is a size 5. I added the sleeve ruffle, and contrasting hem.

Cecelia

 

I loved this dress below, but when I made it up I realized that it required a serger, with just 1/4″ serged seams which served as the underarm facings. The Cecelia sleeve goes completely around the armscye, much more practical for mass production and many beginner sewists.  So all the remaining dresses were cut from that pattern

 

The boys shorts are from a McCall’s pattern I had on hand but it only goes from 1-4.  I have another etsy pattern for sizes 5-10, but that is for later.

 

 

Each each dress will have an accessory teepee bag or headband with a silk flower. Each pair of shorts size 1-2 will have a free standing dingle dangle key chain toy and the 3-4 will have a small pull-back race car matching the pocket..  This is so much fun and fellowship with the ladies and homeschooled children who are sewing with us make this a very special time.  More on this satisfying project later.

What have you all been up to?  I’d love to hear from you and know if there are still any readers.

 

 

Back at Last!

First, let me wish you a happy Valentine’s Day!  My latest post at Brother’s blog Stitching Sewcial is all about embroidered cards, specifically Valentines. I wish you all joy and happiness on this special day of love.

 

 

The tutorial gives all the ins and outs of embroidering cards, from choice of cardstock size and attaching embroidery.  Check it out and please leave a comment at Stitching Sewcial if you find it helpful or inspiring.  Here are a few of the other samples.  Details of each are included at Stitching Sewcial:

 

 

The front embroidery is covered and inside text is Minnie’s quote.  It reads:

 

This one is for our 6 yo granddaughter.  The inside text reads, “Vivian Rose, you are our favorite princess.”

More are posted.  I had a hard time stopping, since these are so much fun to make.

But much more has been going on since I last posted here at Janice Ferguson Sews.  Of course, Christmas was pure joy, with both of our children joining us with all four of our precious grandchildren.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Many gifts were stitched. Mug rugs caught my attention and I made several for my daughter-in-law, but didn’t manage to get a photo.  These are so much fun and make great gifts.  She is our nature girl and really liked the apron I embroidered for her with this fabulous bear from Urban Threads.

I replaced the topstitching with brown thread.

Many loved ones received my standard gift of dishtowels and homemade jams.

Our precious church granddaughter Beatrice was a vision of baby beauty in her Old Fashioned Baby  Christmas dress.  Her headband had a feltie with a tiny deer to match her dress.

 

Now, after months and months of worry and frustration, her adoption is complete and joy abounds.

I really got into felties and made one to go with granddaughter Vivian Rose’s dress.

The stacked cats Christmas tree design is from Apex Embroidery designs. Their designs are great! The gifts below were added from various other sites.  Cute white leggings with big red and green polka dots went with the dress, but I missed a picture of that.

 

It was almost a repeat of last year’s smash hit Christmas frock but it was an enormous upgrade with the new lining.  She wanted to wear it with the lining on the outside, but that was not allowed.

 

 

The whole feltie obsession came as a result of the felties offerred at this etsy site,  Mommy’s Apron Strings.  I downloaded the snowman and gingerbread boys (offered free for a short time) and attached them to 25 hairbows for all the little girls at church.  Of course, I had to have something for the boys, so I made pencil toppers for them, using the same designs on the blank pencil topper included in the set I offered here.  But did I take pictures?  No!  I was stitching late into the night and handed them out  the next morning.

The other winner Christmas gift was a set of two fleece quillows for my son’s twin Comanche plane, embroidered with just the tail numbers.  He had asked for them and was so pleased!

Again, this is probably more than you wanted or needed to know, but I am so far behind that I wanted to let you know I have not given up sewing or blogging.  I hope you will check back to see more, posted more frequently.  But then again,

 

 

Angel Lace Cloud Pillow and Unique Technique

“If you wish success in life, make Perseverance your bosom friend, Experience your wise counselor, Caution your elder brother and Hope your Guardian Angel.”  Joseph Addison

Very appropriate for the Advent season, this heavenly angel pillow could also serve as a guardian angel baby gift or angel of appreciation.  I stitched this on 7 linen hemstitched guest towels which hung as banners as a Christmas gift for each of my beloved PlayGroup Mamas.

Scraps of lace are stitched on a grid and secured with a feather stitch. Grids in two sizes are free downloads at  Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial. It may make you re-evaluate the size of scraps too small to save.

A detailed tutorial with step by step photos is posted at Stitching Sewcial.

It was fun to use this same technique on a whimsical version on a dishtowel.

Seeing this photo now, an embroidered gingerbread man would have been more appropriate.  Oh well, hindsight and all that.

I hope you are all finished with your Christmas sewing, but I doubt it.  We Sisters of the Needle seem to keep on keeping on until the last hour, with more ideas for more gifts for more dear family and friends.

I’d love to hear about your projects and see some photos.  So carry on, Sewing Elves!  We still have 13 days!

 

 

Christmas Fawn Daydress

Christmas is just around the calendar corner and it’s rush, rush, rush for me and many of you.  I’ve just finished this Swiss batiste dress for Baby Beatrice.

I’ve written in earlier posts about Baby Bea, our new granddaughter via our church. Neither of her parents’ mothers is living,  so months before she was born they asked me to be her official Nana.  That was a happy day!  And, of course, she is a doll, just now 4 months old, which for me has been at least 120 more happy days.

Her daddy is an avid hunter, especially for deer. Bea’s little daydress is a reminder NOT to shoot Bambi or his antlered  father.

But back to the dress……the pattern is Old Fashioned Baby‘s Baby Daydress.

 

 

Like all of Jeannie B’s patterns, this one is a delight to sew and offers several design options.  I love the Scriptures and embroidery designs she places in the blank space around the pattern pieces.

 

 

 

The shadow work fawn is from Joy Welsh’s Applique for Kids.  It stitches just beautifully with her instructions.  The greenery beneath the fawn was extracted from another design which I cannot recall right now.

 

 

 

The holly at the neckline is another design whose origin I cannot recall.  I need to keep better records of what I embroider.

CHALLENGES

LACE–There were many challenges while making this dress.  First, I was inspired and compelled to use this exquisitely detailed, dark tan galloon lace purchased from Sue Stewart at the facebook group,Smocking Destash. It just looked perfect for a fawn themed dress. Of course,  the pattern calls for insertion and edging, not a galloon.

 

galloon lace with leftover from the roll and whip

 

The edges are really quite straight so it worked for an insertion.  It was pinstitched in place on my Brother Dream Machine with a #100 needle rather than a wing.   That might have damaged the heavy cordonnet which outlines this lovely lace pattern.   At 3/4″ wide, it was twice the 3/8″ suggested for the insertion.  But by placing the extra width to the center of the pattern, it worked just fine.

SLEEVES–To be used as sleeve edging this 3/4″ lace is wider than I like for a baby.   Also it has no pull thread for gathering  My solution was to rotary cut the galloon down to 5/8″.  Next, the raw edge was rolled and whipped over a quilting thread, reducing the width to a generous 3/8″.  Close enough for me.

Because the lace is fairly stiff, I used far less edging than suggested.  It gathered reluctantly and with more bulk than I would have liked.  That cordonnet is heavy.  The rolled, whipped and gathered lace was then joined to a large-holed entredeux.

 

 

Neither of my granddaughter’s would tolerate snug binding sleeves against their arms.  I expect Bea might be the same.  And she has some deliciously chunky arms with those precious fat rolls we love to squeeze.  So if the sleeve opening is wider than suggested.  If it is too big I can weave a narrow silk ribbon through the large entredeux holes.

 

 

 

The sleeves were inserted with the same entredeux as used on the neck and sleeve edge.  This is not a difficult technique and one which I  think adds a great deal to the heirloom look of a  garment.

NECKLINE–This was another challenge.  The pattern called for gathered lace standing up against entredeux.  But. again, this lace is stiff and likely to be scratchy against silky, delicate baby skin. The entredeux was applied so as to fold to the front with the gathered lace lying against the dress instead of the baby’s neck.  But it would not lie down.

The solution to this challenge was to weave strands of the featherstitching thread through the entredeux as well as the dress itself.

 

 

 

That convinced it to cooperate.

Obviously, the hand stitched weaving looks quite messy.  If I had more time I would remove it and use more strands of thread.  But tick tock tick tock.  It is what it is.

BUTTONS–This was an interesting challenge.  I have a tote bag full of MOP buttons-pink, blue, yellow, green dark brown, ecru and white of course.  But I had these single hole button that were just the right color.  But how to attach  a button with just one hole?

 

Neckline lace has been flipped up for better visibility. The lace almost covers the top button.

 

First I tried French knots in a variety thread weights and number of wraps.   All fell through the single hole or were so bulky as to be unsightly.

Then I thought about a bead.  A single red seed bead worked beautifully.  I was so pleased until……….

 

 

 

Oops!  In my enthusiasm I sewed the button on  the inside of the placket.  Oh well, it was just one button, easy enough to fix.

So the dress will be handed over to Baby Bea tomorrow.  Perhaps she will wear it to the children’s Christmas program at church tomorrow evening.

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted but life gets so busy!  We had our two younger grands, 5 yo Vivian Rose and 9 yo Alastair, for 5 fun-filled days, returning them to their parents and other grandmothers on Thanksgiving Day.  It was a delightful time.

Then I was laid low for a week with my winter foe bronchitis,  all the while trying to muster energy to finish up my Christmas project for Brother’s Stitching Sewcial blog.  I’ll tell you about that project as soon as it is posted on the blog.

Meanwhile, happy stitching to all.  I have 2 Christmas dresses and many, many gifts to embroider before the big day.  I hope to finish before Santa comes down the chimney or he will have to help me finish!  Frankly, his sewing skills seem a bit questionable.

 

 

Required disclaimer:  I am a paid sewing consultant for Brother sewing machine company.

Give Thanks Decor

 

This is a fun and relatively quick project that will be a special reminder of the season of Thanksgiving.  A complete step by step tutorial is posted at http://blog.brothersews.com/holiday/give-thanks-tutorial/

Children could be involved in this project and will be delighted to help with pulling burlap threads and stuffing the jars with the fairy lights.

 

 

It will be easy for you but I had  to struggle with various steps while making this.  Double sided tape has always been a staple of my sewing supplies, but now it is my new favorite.

Did you know it is described as permanent?  That’s good news for Give Thanks as it beautifies your mantle, piano, bookcase or anywhere.

We always celebrate fall in a big way, but Thanksgiving is the crowning glory of the harvest season.  So hop over to Stitching Sewcial and see just how this comes together.  If you like it, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment there.

FYI, there are so many fabulous ideas and tutorials posted at Stitching Sewcial.  You needn’t have a Brother machine to enjoy and reproduce many of the projects.  Take a look!

Required disclosure:  I am a paid and proud ambassador for Brother sewing machines.  I LOVE them.

 

 

Mug Rugs~What I’ve Learned

I’ve always thought mug rugs were a great idea and always meant to stitch some.  Finally, a need arose and a set of these unusual “rugs” seemed like the perfect hostess gift for a perfectly gracious host and hostess.

The second set was made for the guest of honor and speaker, extraordinary Pastor James of Ghana.  So two gift sets of 4 mug rugs were made.  I don’t enjoy stitching identical designs again and again, so I changed the thread color of the background stitching and some of the lettering.

 

 

At a lovely dinner at the home of members of our church, Pastor James spoke passionately to a large group of  guests about the challenging conditions in Ghana.  Our host and hostess, a physician and nurse, had gone there on a medical mission trip this past summer.

As he described conditions in Ghana-no running water in the schools or even the police station, only one hospital several miles from the town of 1.5 million people, accessible only by foot or one of  the few motor scooters–one thing he repeated more than once stuck in my mind.  He said, quite vehemently, “You in America have absolutely NO reason to complain. I and people in my country have good reason to complain, but you have NONE!  Every day you should drop to your knees and thank God for all the blessings you enjoy here!”

In retrospect, the mug rug gift seemed a bit paltry relative to the delicious dinner and the moving testimony from Pastor James, but I had decided a gender neutral item would be best and mug rugs is what it was.

As always, I was rushed and finished these in barely enough time to arrive to dinner at the scheduled hour.  Consequently, the picture is really not good at all.  I should have had a cup and cookie resting on a single rug and the 8 spread apart.

So much was learned on this relatively simple project.  First, I began with a mug rug from Kimberbell Designs, Holiday Mug Rugs.  This collection is wonderful with delightful designs and background stitching.  But I just needed a background and a blank canvas for my Ghana design.  I selected the Cardinal for its background but eliminated the cardinal itself and the snowflake. There are several background patterns in this collection.  Now I want to sew some for Christmas gifts.  And I will use what I learned on this project!

 

I really wanted an applique’ design of Ghana so I could use that souvenir  fabric from my daughter’s trip to Africa.   But what were the chances of finding that?  Surprise!!!!  On Etsy, you can find anything.  This site, Pixels to Threads  has applique’s of several exotic countries! I was thrilled.

The tribal fabric made in Tanzanika was used for the applique’ and for the backing.  I’ve had this fabric for 12 years now and often wondered if I would ever have a use for it.  Now I am so glad it was in my stash!  The Ghana lettering was done in Brother PE-Design.

Instead of using two fabric, as shown on the cardinal mug rug, just one was used, and that background  fabric choice was my first mistake.  It is a relatively heavy, almost coarse linen like piece that seemed perfect for the design.  But these rugs, I expect, were designed for quilt weight fabric, not one so heavy.  It was difficult to press the seams flat after turning the rug right side out.  Note to self: use quilt weight fabric next time.

Next, the instructions were to use a very light weight batt.  But wouldn’t you know, I had a medium weight scrap that was just the right size to make all 8 rugs.  I love using up scraps! How important could the batt weight be?  That was my second mistake.   It IS important.

Even with very close trimming of the batting at the seam line, pressing those thick seams was an even greater issue in combination with the heavy top fabric.  Ultimately, monofilament was used to straight stitch very, very close to the rug’s edge to flatten it.

Frankly, I was doubtful that the mug rugs would be much of a hit.  But when I saw our friends a few days ago, our hostess confided that she had kept only 2 of her rugs.  Two of the Ghana mission helper/organizers who were at the dinner were so taken with them that she shared the other two.  Pastor James, seeing their appreciation for the rugs, gave them two of his.  Of course, he might just have had no use for them.  Still, it was touching.  So each of four Ghana interested people now have 2 rugs each.

At our hosts’ home that night, I was so pleased to see what they had done with the  dishtowel hostess gifts I had made for the first “Ghana” dinner we attended when they shared their mission experience.  I regret not including a caduceus.  I even have one in my design library, but didn’t think of it in my usual rush rush project sewing.

 

 

I doubt these towels will ever see a wet dish.  But I am so pleased with how they were arranged and displayed.

A quick laugh—I texted a picture to a friend who asked what I was working on.  Somehow, only the Ghana applique’ showed up and not the text.  Perplexed, she asked her adult daughter what she thought that was.  “Cheese?” she replied.  Then the next photo came through and the question was answered.

Again and again, I am amazed at how much personalized gifts like the simple dishtowels and mug rugs can be so appreciated.  I appreciate my Brother Dream Machine which enables me to make these appropriate gifts.

What are you sewing?  What do you use for hostess gifts?  I’d love to hear about your projects.

Required disclaimer:  I am an official “brand ambassador” for Brother.  It’s a title of which I am proud.

 

 

Halloween Projects~Quick and Easy

 

NOTE: This is reposted from several years ago, but still has some good ideas for quick and easy Halloween projects.  I hope you find something you like.

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Halloween has never been a favorite holiday of mine but our grandchildren get absolutely giddy with the fun it brings.  This year, I’ve joined in the celebration with sewing projects.

This candy jar was so quick and easy.   Our grandchildren are all big Disney fans so the iBroidery.com design with Mickey and the pumpkin seemed perfect.  It was embroidered on orange felt then glued to a fringed circle of black burlap.  The embroidery was glued to a strip of fringed black burlap  then adhered to the jar with double sided tape (one of my all-time favorite sewing notions).

 

candy jar alone

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FREE Peekaboo Pumpkin Treat Bag

 

Now here is a quick, easy and fun fall project for you.  Since orange gourd designs are appropriate through Thanksgiving, you can stitch up a whole pumpkin patch of these to share. Even without an embroidery machine, you could trace a pumpkin and stitch the entire project on your sewing machine.

A detailed photo tutorial and the free design in 4×4 a d 5×7 are available at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial. You can be very creative with this little pumpkin, using various colors of felt, burlap or even a sturdy fabric.

I especially liked using my Brother P-touch Embellish ribbon and tape printer  to print BOO! for the black pumpkin tie.

black love the imprinted ribbon

 

There are so many great projects posted at Stitching Sewcial, like Angela Wolf’s lovely burlap jar covers embellished with Scan ‘n Cut letters FALL.

 

 

Having recently purchased a Scan ‘n Cut I was especially interested in this project.  Check out Angela’s post and her tutorial here.  I just love the long fringe at the top and bottom of the jars.

And here is another fall project from Joanne Banko, Fall Wreath–a great post, great project, great tutorial with a great free sunflower swag design.

 

Happy Fall to you all!  Enjoy stitching for this colorful season.

 

 

 

Lacey Heirloom Bonnet

When I did my stitch rehearsal for the flowers, I couldn’t decide if I preferred the lighter or darker pink. So I alternated them and was pleased with the result.

 

Who can resist gazing at a baby in a bonnet?  The site warms the heart of every mother, grandmother, auntie or friend.

The pattern for this linen confection was included in Simplicity 8024, though it was modified greatly.   The addition of lace, embroidery, hemstitching,  and sculpted antique pearl buttons on the ties removes this from the realm of boy caps.  Embroidery floss was woven through the hemstitching holes to add a little more color.

 

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Bees for Bea

 

This is longed for and long-awaited baby Beatrice, whose name means “she brings happiness.”  And she surely has!  Our church, family and friends prayed long and fervently for her safe arrival into the loving arms of her adoptive parents.

The afternoon of her baptism a few Sundays ago, friends hosted a barbeque for the entire church and other family friends in Beatrice’s spacious country back yard.

This sign greeted guests.

 

Did I mention that the theme of Bea’s nursery is Winnie the Pooh? Can you tell?

 

Of course, it was HOT!

I made the smocked bee sundress for Bea, complete with bloomers and a hat. She is  tiny, born 2 weeks early at just 6 lbs. Even the newborn size is huge on her. But babies grow and there is still plenty of steamy summer weather left here in central Florida.  It should fit her soon.

Using black on such a tiny baby gave me pause.  But there is no way around it when you are dealing with bees.  The picot edged bias softened it a little but I much prefer white or pastels for newborns.

At the top of her hat sits an adorable little bee which I found on the facebook Smocking DeStash site.  I bought 20 because I knew there would be many opportunities to use them for Baby Bea.

 

This country barbeque in a huge yard with pet goats and chickens was just the sort of fun children love. Still, they needed a few special activities. So while they were eating I discreetly hid bees all around. Continue reading