Category Archives: Basic no-embroidery Machine Projects

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  (click here for the post with the free pattern) 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. Continue reading

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.

 

Whispering Daydreams–New Fabric!

Violette Bleues pattern by Petite Poche. Whispering Daydreams ultra-lawn fabric from Spoonflower.

 

I love fabric, you love fabric, we all love fabric.  But with experience we become more selective about what we choose to sew.  Of course, everyone appreciates the beauty of Swiss batiste, linen, silk, Liberty of London tana lawn, Swiss pique’ and more.  Most sewists praise Michael Miller, Tula Pink and easy care Imperial.  But now I have a new love.

Even though I’ve been on a fabric starvation diet, Nancy Lee Moran’s hand drawn fairytale toile, Whispering Daydreams,  had me from hello. I can hear it whisper…”shhh… Pippi Longstocking’s gone heirloom!”

Seeing that scrappy, pigtailed girl and her fantasy companions portrayed so delicately just delighted me.  The print is pure innocence and set me to daydreaming.  Teamed up with the tiny, fancy dot, also available from Spoonflower,  garments for 3 yo granddaughter Vivian Rose danced like visions of sugarplums in my head.

Available in lavender or blue, in three sizes, and in an array of fabric choices, the smallest blue Whispering Daydreams‘ ultra-lawn was my choice. CORRECTION:  The MINIATURE size (2″ figures) was  used.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to lay hands on it.  When I opened the package, I was not disappointed.  It truly is a fine lawn. Continue reading

Star Wars Party Favors

 

black tp front

The black and white bags were made from scraps, left over from this super hero cape.

 

Sometimes you can learn something that seems rather inconsequential at the time but, in fact, it turns out to be a pretty big deal.  That’s how Mary Lou Nall’s “inconsequential” teepee bag project became one of the most useful  sewing tidbits I have ever picked up.   I still have the bag I made in that class more than 30 years ago!

 

This grubby bag lives in my pleater box and holds my pleating supplies--screw driver, extra needles, small scissors, marking pen, etc. I guess I should wash it.

This grubby bag lives in my pleater box and holds my pleating supplies–screw driver, extra needles, small scissors, marking pen,needle threader, etc. Apparently, it’s long overdue for laundering.  I guess I should wash it.

 

I’ve raved about this before, but I’m compelled to it up again, since I’ve just made 38 more as party favors for grandson Alastair’s 7th birthday.

 

38 Star Wars bags for party favors

38 Star Wars bags for party favors.  Zipper and ribbon color is varied which makes it a little easier for children to identify their own personal bag.

 

Sometimes I wonder just how many I have made in these 30 years, but the number must be in the hundreds. Continue reading

Easter Dress: Disaster Averted

Easter dress for 3 yo Vivian Rose

Easter dress for 3 yo Vivian Rose.  The pattern is Children’s Corner Betsey.

Okay, I’m done whining about missing out on Easter with the grandchildren this year.  As I mentioned (or wailed) in the previous post, this year’s Resurrection Day garments remain undelivered.  And no, that is not the disaster to which I refer in this post title.  There is no recovering that missed celebration. But the Easter dress suffered a real near disaster which I dodged, more or less.

 

27" wide with 10" embroidery

27″ wide with 10″ embroidery

 

First, the details of this dress.  The gorgeous fabric, a 27″ Swiss embroidered flounce purchased from Farmhouse Fabrics, has languished in my sewing room armoire for many years.  It was meant to be used for granddaughter Laurel, who was too small at the time to use this length.  The embroidery extends 10 inches from the hemline.  Then, like so many other projects, it was pushed down on the “make soon” list.

Now with 3 yo Vivian Rose in the family, this beautiful fabric’s day in the sun has come.  Though it was a late start, the smocking was well under way before disaster struck.

Thinking to use my time wisely, 3 days before Easter. I brought the dress along to the hairdresser’s and did some smocking while my…uh…color enhancement set.   BIG MISTAKE!!!

 

stain

ugly stain

 

Janice Ferguson’s custom color #1234 was smeared on the dress.

Scan-3 Continue reading

Parade Dress #2

Children's Corner Carol in ,Michael Miller's Children on Parade fabric

Children’s Corner Carol in ,Michael Miller’s Children on Parade fabric

 

Few fabrics have inspired so many garment interpretations as Michael Miller’s Children on Parade.  The variety of dresses stitched with this fabric is almost countless. My own Parade Inspirations folder has more than 2 dozen adorable dresses.

CheryleCole-Bennet’s irresistible CC Jenni Leigh caused a run on that fabric across the country.  I personally saw Fabric.com’s supply fall from 480 yds to almost nothing in less than 10 days.  Then they restocked.  Meanwhile, shops nationwide saw the same buying frenzy.

My first Parade dress  for my then 18 month granddaughter, Vivian Rose, was a fiasco requiring two posts for me to exhaust my need to vent.  Read it and weep, or at least feel a little sympathy for this obsessed Nana.  It was a shameless but poor copy of Cheryle’s Jenni Leigh.

back 2

The light aqua piping and gingham covered buttons are from Farmhouse Fabrics.

I found CC Carol to be a much easier pattern for a border fabric.  Jenni Leigh looks best with the pattern matching at the diagonal front.  This was a huge challenge.  My goals for Carol were just to have no half bodies disappear into the center pleat and to make an attempt to match the pattern at the center back.  The sides were just as the fabric rolled.

 

Vivi bounce house

 

So now I have used up a few more yards of Children on Parade.  And I’m still not tired of it. And neither is Vivian Rose, our 3 yo uncooperative model.

 

IMG_5915

What have you been up to?

Star Wars Pillow~Challenges and Solutions

SW pillow2

Star Wars pillow with ultrasuede flange

 

I was charged with the task of making a Star Wars pillow. How hard could it be, I wondered?   Granted, I wanted it to be more than two pieces of Star Wars fabric sewn together and stuffed.  But my. oh. my, this was a challenge.

A gray ultrasuede flange seemed like a good idea–a coordinating color and a different texture. Not wanting to mitre corners and seam the ultrasuede, I decided to press under the perimeter of one piece of Star Wars fabric.  That was edge stitched to the center of the gray, which had already been zig zag trimmed with my decorative rotary blade.

Next, I removed the ultrasuede that fell inside the pillow top.  A pillow form was placed on top of the flange and blue print.  Then I placed the pillow back with raw edges pressed under on top of the pillow form.   Very slowly, the back was  stitched the front, taking care to match up the stitching lines.

Careful as I was, some of the stitches showed on the ultrasuede.  I should have made the second piece a bit smaller, so all the stitches would fall within the blue Star Wars fabric.

To cover the stitches a wide silver cord was nestled between the flange and the print.   Stitched in place with monofilament thead, the cord was tediously and slowly joined to the blue.   All the stitching on the back fell within the Star Wars fabric. Whew!

The cord was wired, so the ends could be shaped to stand away from the pillow.  Of course, the fibers wanted to unravel, so I wrapped each end with several rounds of gray quilting thread.

Overall, I was pleased with the result—well, as pleased as an unenthusiastic Star Wars fan can be.

Have you made any Star Wars projects?

Christmas ’15

V face on

Vivian Rose, almost 3yo, on Christmas Day in her CC Betsy

I hope December 25th was fabulous for each of you.     I was so overwhelmed with preparations that there wasn’t a spare a moment to say merry Christmas.   So now I’m sending belated but heartfelt holiday wishes to you. If you just want to know about the Christmas sewing, scroll on down past all my happy holiday family prattle to interesting features.

Christmas 2015 was almost picture perfect for the Ferguson Family.  We missed our pilot son who was called to fly off into the wild blue yonder.

At a church event, Vivian Rose wore last year’s Swiss flannel smocked bishop.  The pattern is Betsy by Children’s Corner.

 

VR SA tree cr

Bishops fit for so long.  That’s just one more reason to love them. Christmas Eve, a huge group of family and friends enjoyed a delicious dinner of shrimp gumbo and barbequed ribs at the home of our son-in-law’s mother and husband.  They are excellent cooks!  We ate and laughed and had a big time there.

Grandchildren Vivian and Alastair played and delighted us all. Christmas Day most of the same group and a few others gathered at the home of our super organized daughter and her computer genius/gourmet cook husband. Son Ryan had to leave early for the airport after opening gifts and celebrating with his family.  But the children and their mother joined us across the state after he left.

 

A santa hat V shin guard

From the moment she unwrapped them, Vivian wore her new shin guards and soccer cleats most of the day, declaring again and again, “I’m ready for soccer!”

 

Vivian was thrilled with her pink shin guards, pink soccer ball and orange “cleats.”   She pranced around showing them off to everyone, saying, “I’m ready for soccer!”  She wants to do everything her big brother does. Continue reading

Star Wars Cape and Vader’s Wedding Death March

 

cape all2x

Are your friends and family as Star Wars star struck as mine?  I was so busy with projects inspired by The Force Awakens  that I have gotten a very late start on grandchildren’s Christmas clothes. For a number of reasons, the dress for 3 yo Vivian Rose and bow tie for 6 yo Alastair are not specifically Christmas, so they can still be worn after their December 24th delivery.  The next post will  include photos and details of the “holiday” clothes.

But back to Star Wars. This super hero cape was posted some time ago for a few hours, until I discovered that I had accidentally added the watermark for granddaughter Laurel’s SewAmazingGifts Etsy store.  So the post was removed.  But I cannot remove the watermark, which is the point of a watermark, I guess. So I am now  reposting it.

Though my blog is titled Janice Ferguson Sews, Modern Projects for Old Fashioned Nanas, this modern project is not my style.  But Star Wars is a hot topic now, as Star Wars fans eagerly await the the Dec. 18 release of The Force Awakens movie.  These fans include boys and young men (and some not so young)  in my family.

With that in mind, I’m on a Star Wars roll which began with this cape.  I choked a little, working on fabric soooooo far from Swiss batiste, though  the quilting cotton is very nice quality. The trims and embellishments–plastic buttons and metal snaps–are 180 degrees from the heirloom laces and MOP buttons which I prefer.  But I stitched my way through, anticipating the grins on fan faces.

The free pattern is from Nancy’s Notions.  It’s quick and can easily be embellished as much or as little as you like. Nancy offers so many free projects and, of course, wonderful products for sale. Continue reading

Coming Home Daygown and Bonnet

Busy, busy, busy!  So this post is a re-run featuring Laurel Cade, our first grandchild and her homecoming outfit.  I think the topic is still timely.~~~~~~~

 

my handsome son (newborn at 9 lb.1oz) and his 10 lb.daughter

my handsome son (who was a 9 lb.1oz newborn) and his 10 lb.daughter

 

My babies  each weighed exactly 9 lbs. 1 ounce and were 22″ long.   My husband said my uterus had a 9 lb. 1 oz. capacity, just like a gallon milk jug will hold just one gallon.  He declared that if we had a dozen children they would all be the same size.   After our second child, I chose not to test his hypothesis.

At any rate, neither of our babies wore newborn clothes for more than a few weeks.

When our dearly loved, petite daughter-in-law Shelly was pregnant with our first grandchild, the whole family thought this precious baby would be a tiny little thing, like her mama.  After all, Shelly’s  own mother is just 4’11” so we expected a small baby.   With this in mind, I used a preemie daygown pattern for Laurel’s coming home outfit.

Imagine our  shock when this “small”  baby girl was born via C-section weighing an even 10 lbs! I had other regular size daygowns smocked and ready to go, so I took those to the hospital the day they were to be released.  But they were all too big.

We were surprised that the preemie daygown fit her perfectly.  Of course, she was only able to wear it for a short time, but I was glad that she had something that fit so well for that important trip home. Now, whenever I make a coming home daygown for a special baby, I make a preemie size.

 

coming home gown L

The daygown and bonnet are pale yellow Imperial batiste, smocked in shades of yellow and periwinkle blue.  Entredeux and tatted edging trim the angel sleeves bishop and either side of the front.  Blue floss is woven into the holes of the entredeux.

Continue reading