Category Archives: free patterns and designs

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?

 

 

 

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?

 

Christmas Tidbits

Truly, this is the most wonderful time of the year.  And it’s just around the corner.

Meanwhile, the black velveteen for Vivian Rose’s Christmas dress (because black is this child’s best hope for an all-day appearance of cleanliness) is still in the package from Farmhouse Fabrics.    I’m still returning china, laundering and pressing 140 dinner napkins while recovering from Thanksgiving.  We were deeply involved in a fabulous almost family wedding Thanksgiving weekend.  FYI, the groom is almost family–there was nothing” almost” about the wedding!  That’s what the 140 dinner napkins were all about.

For 5 days of Thanksgiving and 5 days with so much for which to be thankful,   our house was filled with the families of both of our children, including all 4 of our precious grands.  It was a glorious time, but exhausting with the wedding thrown in there.

But back to Christmas……

Tidbit #1:  Do you all know about Jacquie Lawson‘s electronic greeting cards?  They are just spectacular.  For a small fee you have unlimited access to cards all year long. I share this with you now because of the advent calendar she offers each year.  Members, for a very small fee (as little as $2 each for 10 or more) can give a daily magical electronic Christmas experience to children or anyone.

This year there are two versions, a Victorian Christmas

 

This year's Jacquie Lawson electronic Victorian Advent Calendar

This year’s Jacquie Lawson electronic Victorian Advent Calendar

 

and a Seaside Advent calendar. Continue reading

Easter Baskets and Free Grass Design

5 basketsA

 

After two full weeks of fun and sewing, my Aunt Rheeta just left for home in Indiana.  Her suitcase is stuffed to the limit with finished projects.  I’ll share details of those wonderful items in a future post.

With Easter just around the corner, this seemed like a good time to re-run this post and offer the free Easter grass design again. Take a look at the grass and eggs under Harry and Alastair’s names.  That is the free design.

To get the grass designs, just leave your request in the comment section below.

It also might give you some ideas for decorating your own baskets and other Easter projects. There is another Easter freebie rerun  in the queue so check back for that in the next few days.  I’ve got to get started on my grandchildren’s outfits!

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My struggle to break away from spring gardening was put to rest when two days of much needed, non-stop rain fell on Glenwood.  As it poured, I planned Vivian Rose’s size 2 Easter dress, pulled out all the goods needed and even did a little work on the fancyband.

In the midst of planning the granddaughters’ Easter finery, a huge, eagerly awaited box arrived with these 5  baskets.   That box changed my direction right then and there.  I had to get them personalized and out of my way.  They will be used at our church’s Bunny Lunch and egg hunt as well as on Easter morning.

 

Harry 1

 

One is for the 6 month old Harry, the long awaited first grandchild of a beloved friend.   The little guy won’t be hunting eggs this Easter, but his grandmother wanted him to have a special basket for his first Easter.

Harry’s basket was a challenge because my friend asked me to include a frog if possible.  I’m not sure that goofy amphibian passes for an “a” but I hope it is close enough.  After the Precious Boy Child blanket, I was focused on substituting an animal for a letter, hence the frog/a.   After it was finished, I wished I had just nestled a tiny frog in the grass.

Speaking of grass, I frequently use the greenery design used on Harry and Alastair’s baskets.  I think it might be equally useful for you readers.  Suzanne Sawko and I often discuss how we prefer embroidered figures to be anchored, somehow, to the ground or something else. Suzanne digitized the grass, which is best stitched with a fine machine embroidery thread such as DMC 50/2  or Mettler 60/2.  But regular 40 wt. thread also works.

 

Laurel2

 

The grass provides a great foundation for the addition of other elements. .  Each basket is embroidered with a combination of grass and other designs from here and there.

 

A 1

I am so pleased to have these finished–well, I think I am finished.   Almost 9 yo grandson Robert has yet to declare his preference for a plain basket, basket with an unembellished liner or basket with embroidery like his sister’s and cousins’.  To proceed without his input might, in the end,  be a waste of time and a waste of a cute Easter basket.  The blue one is in reserve while he deliberates.

 

Vivian 1

Font is Jazz from Five Star Fonts.

 

The bunny design on Vivian Rose’s basket is from Bernina’s Warm Wishes from Ingrid collection.   It had to be rearranged somewhat to accommodate Vivian’s name but I was pleased to be able to use it again.  The lettering for her name is from Five Star Fonts Jazz alphabet.

So  the children have Easter baskets, but still no Easter outfits.  Back to the sewing room.

I’d love to see your Easter projects.

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

Christmas Apron How-to

apron

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. Continue reading

Dressed up Play Top

eyelet 1

Doesn’t this look cool and comfortable for a Florida toddler?

 

I seem to be stuck on the simple, free, gathered play top pattern from The Purl Bee.   (See Mountain Sewing Getaway and Free Patterns~Summer Play Top)  There are so many variations dancing around in my head that I doubt this will be the last one I make.  I  really hope to make some for Operation Christmas Child.

For this version, the top is cut to a dress length–at least for an 18 month old– and given a more elegant look with the  a finer fabric.  The contrasting casing of which I am so fond and is embellished with stacked  yo-yo’s, a single leaf and a tiny pearl button. Continue reading

Free Patterns~Quickie Summer Top and Puffy Pocket

VR school

Vivian Rose having fun at pre-school wearing her easy-peasy play top and her beloved pink crocs

 

Now here is a GREAT modern project for old fashioned Nanas.   The free pattern, available at The Purl Bee, consists of only simple directions/measurements so there are no pattern pieces.

 

summer top all

 

It requires just a bit of elastic and 1/2 yd. of fabric—and who doesn’t have cute scraps that are too small for another project?   It’s quick–the basic top can be made in about an hour.  And better yet, it is a blank canvas that can be gussied up with applique’ or embroidery or whatever–or not! Continue reading

Free Big Bunnies Design

3 bunnies

 

As a self-described Only-When-Absolutely-Necessary digitizer/machine embroidery designer, I worked up this design for a Children’s Corner Callie.   It was made in a huge hurry for my granddaughter to wear to the Bunny Lunch at church the day before Easter.

 

VR ball basket Continue reading