Beautiful Easter ’17

What a hambone! This little girl in her smocked Swiss voile bishop loves the camera.

 

I hope you all had a joyous Easter.  Ours was beyond fabulous, with a beautiful worship service and all four grandchildren and their parents for the weekend.  It could only have been better if our pilot son had not  been flying out in the wild blue yonder.

It was a non-stop celebration.  Saturday morning a church family hosted an Easter egg  hunt for 40+ children.  Wonderful as the hunt and the huge bounce house were, the highlight for most of the children was fishing in the pond.  Those fish were hungry and hit on every line.  Every child caught at least one fish. Grandson Alastair, 8, caught 4!  He was ecstatic.

 

 

When our older grandchildren flew in from NJ that afternoon, their first priority was to cuddle and play with 11 week old Samson and Delilah.

 

Children and puppies go together like peas and carrots.

 

After getting acquainted with the pups,  swimming was the favorite activity.  Laurel, 12, and Robert, 11, had lived their entire lives in central Florida until their Sept. 1 move to New Jersey.  Their first northern winter gave them a new appreciation for the Florida weather they had always taken for granted.   They were very eager to swim and enjoy the warm sunshine.

 

 

After swimming we made carrot patch brownies.  Take a look at this video.  It’s such a kid friendly recipe.

 

 

This was so much fun and all 4 children participated.  The boys loved smashing the Oreos.  I expect this will be a new Easter tradition for our family.

 

 

 

Easter Sunday morning we had an egg hunt in the front yard  before church.

 

Alastair was so excited that he somehow put on a long sleeved shirt under his dress shirt but remembered his bow tie. Vivian Rose wore her blue silk dupioni bishop from two years ago.

 

Examining their loot. Each child had an embroidered Easter basket.

 

Finally it was time to put on her pink Easter dress.  Since the dress featured no cats  I expected it would take a sack of jelly beans to get her to wear it.  But she liked it!  A lot!

The dress s a Swiss voile modified bishop.  At the hemline is a medallion with a cherub, a remnant from a damaged antique tablecloth. It is pinstitched in place.

 

 

The hemline is gently scalloped and edged with insertion, beading and edging, hemstitched, of course. Seven inches of fullness was removed from the center front so the medallion would not be lost in the folds.  The unsmocked area was gently gathered then loosely smocked at the neckline and hand ruched to the depth of the smocking on either side.  The neck and sleeves are bound with ivory Swiss batiste.

 

Vivi with puppy Delilah

 

Laurel used her chalk egg to express our feelings for this glorious Resurrection Day.  It was pure joy for our family.  I hope you all had a very special day.

 

 

Opinions? Easter Dress in Progress

Pink Swiss voile, ivory entredeux, cherub medallion, heirloom laces and bishop pattern from Mimi’s Heirloom Sewing Book Two.

 

My life is absolutely wonderful but SO busy!  These new puppies chew up a lot of time… and a lot of everything else.!  They are adorable and we are crazy about them.  But they are one of the big reasons it’s been so long since I’ve posted.

 

Samson and Delilah, each 21 lbs, 10 weeks old

 

At this late date I am starting on Easter dresses for 4 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose.  One, of course, is for Easter Sunday.  The other is for the church egg hunt on Sat.  But that is on the back burner until Sunday’s dress is finished.

For several years I have had a piece of what must have been an exquisite tablecloth featuring cherubs and roses.  You probably figured out that roses are a bonus for anything I make for Vivi.

I’m thankful that someone had the foresight to save the remnants.  From the first time I saw it, I imagined one of those cherub medallions in a granddaughter’s dress.   Finally, the time has come.

 

each cherub is 3″ tall

 

The plan is to modify a bishop with several inches removed from the front.  That would leave a flat area on the Swiss voile for the single cherub.  As you can see, it is already pinstitched to the voile.  I love love love pinstitch and use it whenever possible.  This time a #100 needle was used instead of a wing for fear that a wing would cut through the dense portions of the lace.

 

cherub medallion secured to Swiss voile with pinstitch W 2.5 L 2.5

 

For more about pinstitch, check out my very detailed tutorial Pinstitch~~What’s it All About  and Pinstitch Part II.    A This irregular shape would have been very tedious, but do-able–without the knee lift on my Brother Dream Machine.  So many stitchers I speak with have this feature on their machines but do not use it.  What a shame!  It is so useful!

A scalloped hem is planned, with a wide curve under the cherub and roses cut from the piece in other scallops.

I have envisioned this dress as “frothy” with a lace trimmed hemline.  A huge challenge was finding lace that was neither white nor ecru but a very light ivory.  I successfully coffee dyed a few pieces to just the right shade.  But when I came across the special two row edging shown below and hoarded for years, I thought its time had come, just like the cherubs.

Because 3 of anything is usually more pleasing than 2, I would like to put one more piece above it but can’t decide the use the beading or the plain footing.  Of course the lace will be pinstitched in place.

 

Which would you choose–the beading or the plain footing lace?

 

Is the beading with ribbon too much?  Is the footing too plain?  Please share your opinions.  Meanwhile, I’m busy constructing, pleating and smocking.

But indecision strikes again!  My original choice looks “frothier.”

 

No doubt many of you are finished with your Easter sewing.  But I bet there will be a lot of late Saturday nights next week for some of you.  And probably me.

Please advise about the lace choices-the first with beading? with footing? or the second as shown!

 

 

Beauty and the Beast Spa Wrap

 

This cute spa wrap isn’t green, but there is a bit of the color in the trim.

 

 

What a fun little project this is!  My older granddaughter loved her monogrammed wrap and  those I made for her Spatacular 8th birthday party guests.  There was also one for each girl’s American Girl doll (see that tutorial here).

Laurel would love one with the Beauty and the Beast design, available from iBroidery.com for Brother Disney embroidery machines.

She is our little drama queen, but not in a bad way.  Laurel has been performing in local stage productions since she was 7 and acting as narrator in Beauty was one of her favorite roles.

 

 

It was performed to sell out audiences for two weeks at our beautifully restored vintage 1921 Athens Theater in DeLand.

 

As girls get older, it is more challenging to find projects that they will like and use.  This spa wrap fits the bill perfectly, whether or not a young lady performed in Beauty and the Beast.  Give it a try!

I’d love to see pictures of your finished spa wraps.

 

 

How good is good enough?

children with their teepee bags at my grandson’s 8th birthday party

 

This is a question I have struggle with frequently.  Does EVERY project require or deserve perfection?

Most recently, my struggle focused on the party favor bags for my grandson’s 8th birthday.  The party had a sports theme, with a football pinata and soccer field cake.  My contribution to the festivities was 12 teepee bags, 3 each  from football, baseball, basketball and soccer novelty fabrics.  After enjoying the bounce house and the girls swapping clothes and changing again and again with the garments in the dress up box,  the bags were stuffed by the children with the spilled contents of the smashed pinata.

Like most of you readers, I am very, very busy.    But I am also very, very fussy about my sewing.  Often I ask myself, is it better to sew more with a few imperfections or better to sew less and get my projects as close to perfect as possible?  In fact, I rarely achieve results even close to perfect.

I wrestled with this question when making the quick and easy bags , which take 10 minutes each without finishing touches.  Two of these touches include topstitching the zipper, finishing the seams and trimming stray whiskers from the seams. Ultimately, taking time to cut out and make each bag unique (who wants mass produced?) with different colored zippers and handle loops, winding different colored bobbins and changing threads, I spent about 20 minutes each.  But was it worth it?

 

Do the seams really need to be finished for a candy bag? Must the stray thread be trimmed?.

 

In search of the answer, I did not sit in my Adirondack chair under a freshly leafed oak tree on a sunny Florida spring afternoon.   Remember, I am very busy. Oops, I think I already mentioned that…  Instead I contemplated the quotes  below while folding laundry, feeding the cats and scouring the kitchen sink.

Confucius said, “”Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”  Hmmmm….

But Aristotle said,  “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”  I have an abundance of pleasure in the job, but I don’t get perfection.  Hmmmmm…

Plato really muddied the waters with his declaration, “Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly.”  Hmmm…again and again.

Then, many quotes addressed the subject of excellence along with perfection.

“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.” ~ Pat Riley

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” ~ Aristotle

Ultimately, it was the wisdom of a football legend who spoke to my heart.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” ~ Vince Lombardi

As you can see from the photo of the single soccer teepee bag, the seams were finished, the zipper was  topstitched,  and finally the stray threads. were trimmed.  I’m not sure it was the wisest expenditure of my time, but I couldn’t help myself.   I’ve decided that I am in search of excellence in all I sew rather than demanding or expecting perfection.  Whew!  That’s a relief!

So what would you do?

 

 

 

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 makes you a good chuckle.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 and, sadly, a recent death.  But life goes on.   We accept as God’s blessing the merciful  death of one and  celebrate the recovery of another.

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 restaurantaeur.   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 washere to do it for me,  I assumed it was self-service.”

“Well, it is not!!!!!”  She wrapped up my sandwich, I paid her and then sat down at a table by the entrance. The Shrieker disappeared into the sit-down restaurant’s dining room and through a pair of double doors at the back, practically in the next zip code.

Just a few minutes later, two HUGE biker guys came in–you know, with doo rags on their heads, sleeveless tee shirts, bulging arms, big ring of keys on their Levis belt loops, heavy boots.  They waited just a minute then asked me if anyone was there.

Then I thought, you just have to get your laughs when and where you can.

I said, “This place is self service.  I made my own sandwich.  Just leave your money by the cash register.”

As they clumped back behind the counter and picked out their bread, I picked up my sandwich and walked quickly to my car.  But I was laughing then and chuckled as I drove for the next 200 miles, picturing a continuation of the scenario I had left behind.  I’d love to have stayed to watch The Shrieker take on those tough guys and give them what-for.  But as they say, “Discretion is the greater part of valor,” though I’m not sure valor is what I was going for.   Clearly, in this sitation, discretion was the wisest choice.

Hearing this story, Uncle Richard laughed, too.  As he guffawed and chortled some more, I could tell it had been a very long time since he had had anything to laugh about.  But that day, for a little while, he did.

This YouTube video of a baby will make you laugh…..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPtuekvJdhs

Meanwhile, happy sewing.

Pete’s Dragon Sleepover Set

Part 1 of the 3-part detailed tutorial for the set is now posted here at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial.

What a fun project this was!  Disney’s machine embroidery designs at iBroidery.com  reflect the awesome and  mighty protector Elliot who has greater appeal for today’s action hungry youngsters.  While the ’70’s version featured  the sweet but goofy purple cartoon dragon Elliot, this 2016 dragon is the real deal.   See the trailer here.

The set includes an a stippled sundry bag for his toothbrush and personal grooming items, embroidered shirt and shorts pajamas set, and a pillowcase with a burrito/turn tube hem.  A drawstring makes it a tote for carrying all his gear to a sleepover.

You can see that the buttonhole is empty.  For the child’s safety, the drawstring must be removed when the tote becomes a pillowcase.

 

The fun part of this design is the glowing fire spewing from Pete’s angry mouth.  After the design was embroidered, I went back over that section with glow-in-the-dark thread.  The design is positioned so that as a child lays his head on the pillow, he is looking at the dragon.  In the dark, this is what he sees:

 

Each of my 4 grandchildren are fascinated and delighted by glow-in-the-dark embroidery.   Why not try it on this pillowcase/tote? Part 1 of the tutorial is now posted here at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial.

Free Fil Tire’ Heart design

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I so appreciate the support and encouragement you dear readers have given me  through the years.  For the some time now I have been extraordinarily busy and posts have been few and far between. And yet you still stop by to read my infrequent posts. I thank you for that.

For this day celebrating love, I am offering this free machine embroidered fil tire’ heart, along with wishes for love each day.  Just leave your request for the design as a comment at the bottom of this post.

The wing needle design is very versatile.  I’ve used it in combination with other designs on thees baby pillows.

 

 

It stitches beautifully on Swiss flannel, as seen on this baby shawl.

 

This is how it really looked.  Below the image is shown with contrast to show more detail.

 

The design was reinterpreted on the bodice of Judith Dobson’s tea dress.

 

 

I wish each of you a happy Valentine’s Day with lots of love.  And spread some around, ok?

 

Kitty Cat Dress #3

V andE

 

As expected, kitty cat dress #3 was a huge hit.  With the dress on a hanger and gray leggings hanging below,  we walked through the door to Vivian Rose’s 4th birthday party. She ran to me squealing with delight and ran off to put on the dress. Also as expected, her personal fashion sense demanded different leggings than those provided with the dress.  But  that was okay with me.

Vivi loved the and has worn it repeatedly in the short time she has had it.

Again, I used CC Lucy for the pattern after giving up on CC Kitty. I had cut that dress out with this same fabric the weekend Vivi was here. The gray, pink, black and white cats are on a gray background.  The dress is lined with gray gingham and trimmed with gray whipstitch piping.

Vivian  graciously insisted on “helping”  me in order to get the dress done more quickly.  You might remember this photo of her assisting me.

 

V helps me sew

 

While she “helped me” the guide sheet and the back yoke pattern piece, cut out and still pinned to the fabric, both disappeared, never to be found.  Fortunately, I always buy extra fabric and had enough cat print and gray gingham to hunker down and make another Lucy.

 

pocket.jpg

That is a too-skimpy cat ruffle under the black binding.

 

The pockets, however, are 40% larger.  She commented somewhat sweetly that the pockets on kitty cat dress #2 were “Vewwwy small!”

Her party was a big success.  There was a bounce house and the de rigueur  pinata, rainbow style.  I made 10 teepee bags with scraps from each of her 3 kitty cat dresses. The  cake featured her signature roses (for Vivian Rose), tiny cat candies and  rainbow.  I pray her life be filled with these, sunshine and love and a cat or two.

 

V cake ED

 

Yesterday, I was chatting with my daughter who told me about an incident at her preschool.  One of her favorite playmates, a very active boy, turned quickly and hit her nose with his elbow.  She bled profusely and cried like she was dying.  The  teacher tried to comfort her, wiping the blood from her face, to no avail.  Vivi finally cried out, “There is blood alllll over my kitty cat dress!”

Later, when her mother asked her if the knock on the nose hurt, she replied no.  She was just upset about her Aristocats dress and was afraid it was ruined.  Rebecca is working on it with our favorite stain stick so the life or death verdict is still out.

 

Another CC Lucy--and another kitty cat dress for my kitty cat loving granddaughter.

Aristocats dress for my kitty cat loving granddaughter.

 

The next project in the queue is her Easter dress.  I doubt she will be crazy about it but it will feature NO cats!  And I will really enjoy making it.

 

Kids Say the Darndest Things

V passion vine bench CR

Vivian Rose wearing her Meet Me at the Fair outfit.

We enjoyed a fabulous weekend with 4 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose.  She kept us laughing for 3 days.  If you’ve read earlier posts about this unique little gal, you know she is very strong willed and more than a little mischievous.

As soon as she arrived she asked for yet another kitty cat dress.  On a quick stroll into my sewing room she spotted the fabric just recently purchased in anticipation of cat dress #3.

cat fabric

 

“Make it now, Nana!  I will help.”  And she did, in her own way.

 

She was pulling out all the "rainbow fabric" off the shelves from behind the blind which protects my fabrics from sunlight.

 

After pulling out “rainbow” fabric from the shelves behind the sunscreen shades, she made herself a scarf and pillaged through my button drawer.  Very little sewing was accomplished. This was exhausting for both of us.

So I plunked her on a quilt in front of the tv, thinking she would surely fall asleep.  About 10 minutes later she strolled in wearing nothing but her panties, asking was her dress done?

I told her she must put her clothes on.  “No, I don’t want to.”  Several admonishments brought the same response, “No.”  So I told her that if she wouldn’t put her clothes on I would not sew her dress.

She said, “Well, I’m sorry you won’t be able to sew, Nana. I know you like to sew.”  With head held high, she resolutely went back to her quilt in front of the tv.  I just sat there for a few minutes and then resumed sewing.  When I peeked in on her, she had dressed.  Whew.

 

V granddad's study

In her granddad’s study, wearing her Children on Parade dress.

 

Here she is after she ran upstairs to give her hardworking grandfather a kiss. “He needs one,” she said after having been told that he had been working ’round the clock to get a proposal done by Monday.

When asked if she missed her mama and daddy, she calmly replied no.  But this is how much she loves them, “10!” she replied with arms spread wide, as shown.

How much does she love Nana?  Again, “10!”  How much does she love Granddad?   “45!!!”  She is really his girl.

This 10 for Nana was a big relief, especially after an earlier incident.  Earlier, I had to fuss at her about something, so she retreated to the front porch to pout for a few minutes.

pouting

pouting

She returned to the kitchen, got paper and pencil from the supply closet and sat down at the table.  First she wrote her name then scribbled a list of words.  Note that Vivian routinely adds a second syllable to one syllable words, i.e. boys are “boy-ez.”

“What are you writing?” I asked in a conciliatory voice.

“I’m making a li-on of all the people I love.”  Then she looked me right in the eye and said,  “Nana, you are last on the lion.”  So my new rating of 10, equal to her mother’s was comforting.

Later, we played with the 3-face doll my mother made years ago.  I love the doll and it enchanted both my Rebecca (Vivi’s mother) and cousin Laurel when each was 5.

 

DSC06220cry

 

When I first showed Vivian the happy faced doll, she smiled.  When I discreetly switched to the crying doll, she grabbed it from me, turned the doll’s head, and said, “That’s a crazy doll.”  Then she walked away, unimpressed.

Sunday morning, as we were getting ready for church, she demonstrated some of her ballet moves.  She needs more lessons.

 

ballet kitchen

She is wearing her Christmas dress from 2 years ago. It’s pretty darn short on her now. Glad I made long bloomers.

 

On the way to church, we advised her that there would be a children’s sermon, at which time she would go to the front of the church with the other children.  She liked that.  She is very social.

 

V pew

Waiting for church to start.

 

As soon as the pastor said, “I’d like to invite the children……….” she was racing down the aisle.  She was at the front of the sanctuary when he finished his sentence, “ages 3 to 5 to come forward.”

She spun around, gave us a deer-in-the-headlights look and ran back to our pew.  “But I’m FOUR!!!”  We assured her it was okay and back to the front she ran.

At the fellowship hour after worship, tables are arranged around the perimeter of the basketball court.  After she gobbled her cookie, she walked to the empty center of the room and announced (not that anyone heard or noticed) that it was time for her ballet show.  She twirled and danced (no music) and fell a few times.

At the end of the brief performance, she turned to each side of the room, spread her arms out wide and said, “Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.”  Then she returned to our table.

bumblebee

That afternoon we had fun playing with this free-standing bumblebee, left over from one of my projects.  She chased, pretending to sting me and I was appropriately frightened. Then we reversed roles.  I guess that planted the seed for her nighttime deception.

At bedtime, as we headed for her bed, she gave a loud warning.  “Do not go in the closet, Nana!!!”  I was immediately suspicious and asked why.

“Because there is a very, very big wasp in there and he will sting you.”  hmmmm..I smelled a rat.

“Don’t you worry, Vivi, I’ll get that wasp.”  She still protested NO!  until I turned the closet door knob.  Then she said, “I’m sorry, Nana.”

The closet was perfectly in order.

closet-2

 

Very gently, I asked her what she had done.  With some shame she showed me where she had stashed 4 Milk Bones for our dog Rastus, who had already far exceeded his treat limit for the day, thanks to her generosity.  She admitted that she planned to “treat” Rastus after we fell asleep.

So those are some of the highlights and fun of our 3 days with Vivian.  Of course, my favorite hairbrush has disappeared along with my new toothbrush which is purple (her favorite color that day).  But who cares?  We had a grand time and she didn’t want to go home when her mother came to pick her up.

Sigh…..it’s nice to know that I am no longer last on the lion.

 

 

Moana Dress for Disney’s New Princess

image-1-close-moana-dressed

 

Have you seen the delightful new Moana movie? Granddaughter Laurel, her mother and I went to see it over Christmas and it reminded me that I haven’t blogged about the Moana items I have made.  A complete tutorial is posted at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial.

The Simplicity Burda pattern for is dress is so versatile and easy.   I like a pattern that leaves room for personal interpretation as this one certainly does.  The dress would have been so much nicer if the print had been used for the hem.  That’s just one more woulda coulda shoulda for me.

 

image-3-pattern

The iBroidery.com designs are just exquisitely digitized.  The intricate details are clear and distinct.

 

moana-pocket-scan

Continue reading