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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 gives you a good chuckle.

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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.   Sadly, since this was first posted, we have lost both Aunt Aileen and Uncle Richard.  But life goes on.   We accept as God’s blessing the merciful  death of one and  peaceful death of the other.

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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 restaurateur.   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 was here to do it for me,  I assumed this was a self-service shop.” Continue reading

Summer Fun Bug Bag

You can’t beat bug hunting for kids’ summer fun.  Make this bag with or without embroidery and they will be kept busy prowling the bushes and grass. Whether the prey be creepy crawlies or fireflies, the adventure is a child’s version of an African jungle safari.

But where to put the catch? This fiberglass screen wire teepee bag (the name is suggested by its shape) is a perfect accessory and holding pen.  Use insect designs from iBroidery.com and your personal design library to embellish the outside.

Most machines handle the screen wire effortlessly.  The stand-alone butterfly swaying inside the bag will intrigue the children and send them racing out the door away from  their screens and  into nature.  Without embroidery, print a butterfly on cardstock and dangle it with monofilament, just like the embroidered one.  You could even include a few plastic bugs in the bag, as shown in the photo, to get the children in the mood.

This was my latest project featured on Brother’s blog at Stitching Sewcial.  It includes detailed instructions for the basic bag as well as a downloadable template.  This template shows the sections and sides of the bag, making embroidery placement easy.

The basic bag is my standard, favorite teepee bag, used dozens of times.  But the zipper insertion varies and frankly is easier with less opportunity for error.

See that the zipper is simply placed on top of the screenwire  and held in place with a decorative stitch that mimics grass.  The embroidered ladybugs could easily be replaced with ladybug buttons.

There is still plenty of summer left.  Why not give the children a last adventure before the start of school with this fun bag and activity?  Check out the Stitching Sewcial blog post for particulars. Enjoy these last lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer with your kids.

Catching Critters! A Fun DIY Bug Bag

Family Cruising

How’s this for a Cozumel tropical paradise?

It’s been way too long since a new blog has been posted but I’m  trying to catch up.  To say we have been busy is a gross understatement.  But let me tell you one of the many events that have kept us running– our wonderful Royal Caribbean cruise with our daughter and family.  There are some sewing projects to see but lots of fun to report.

I had packed a bag of smocking projects which I expected to complete while enjoying the view and sea breeze from our balcony.  Some smocking was done but I packed way too many projects with way too many great expectations.

My good friend Carol, our daughter’s fabulous mother-in-law, was with us and had the same idea.  She knitted and I smocked.  So we sat and stitched, but only for short periods of time.

 

 

There were so many activities.  Vivian Rose wore “Nana clothes” every day.  Here she is leaving an activity wearing a bishop Easter dress from a few years ago.

 

 

The dress was generously sized for her two years ago and desperately needed a tuck under the arm.  It still needs the tuck and the only other fitting problem its short length.   Regardless, she loves the dress.  I really need to make those tucks. Why she is wearing her backpack under the dress is a mystery to me. She wore this dress to dinner one night.

 

 

For dinner each night she was dressed in smocking. This dress was made for her mother 30 years ago and was worn by cousin Laurel before Vivi for a few years. Now it’s another one of Vivian’s favorites.  It’s still in perfect condition, another hurrah for Spechler-Vogel’s Imperial batiste Continue reading

“It’s done! She’s ours!”

the happy family

 

That was the text that brought me to tears.  Newly adopted Baby Beatrice, who was expected to be delivered at 30 weeks,  was born at 38 weeks weighing a whopping 6 lbs. 14 oz!  My prayer that she would never need either of the the preemie isolette shirts I made was answered  The sweet blue ribbon shirt and  the gingham duckling shirt (thanks again for the design, Lisa) were donated to the NICU at the hospital where she as born.

There were many twists and turns which made the success of the adoption very iffy.  Only the grace of God and a multitude of prayers saw this to completion just late this afternoon.    From North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado, Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri, Washington, New Hampshire, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, of course, Florida, and many other states as well as New Zealand, prayers were lifted that this baby would be delivered into the loving arms of her parents.  Now Beatrice has made her family complete. Continue reading

Summer Picnic Dress

Originally plain white with drawn thread work at the hemline, this versatile dress from All About Blanks can become something very special. Adding a shirt makes it suitable for chilly, windy kite-flying days.

 

This “blank” linen/cotton blend dress from All About Blanks is, indeed, a blank canvas awaiting embellishment. With embroidery, ribbon and topstitching, it steps out from “blank” into the realm of special.

Its patriotic kite and images of sunshine and water seem to broadcast and celebrate the joys of summer.  For a picnic, family  reunion or any such occasion, a little girl would be the center of attention.

The embroidery design is from Brother’s embroidery site, ibroidery.com.  It is so sweet and versatile, capturing the magic of childhood summers.

 

Brother’s ibroidery.com design BIC-MTGSAS008

Another little touch was swapping out the white utility buttons with  eye catching red ones.

 

 

A complete tutorial post for this project is at Brother’s blog Stitching Sewcial.

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

 

 

Great On-line Class with MaggieB!

This is the first Ode to Joy Border Tunic  I made working through an on-line class offerred  by Maggie Bunch.  It is a fabulous class for everyone from  beginners to experienced smockers.  Maggie takes you from border print fabric selection, to pleating, to construction and smocking.  But she throws in so many little informational gems and tips.  I learned so much.  You may provide your own fabric or she offers some darling kits.  She will even pleat for you if you like.

This class is a bargain at $30.  Maggie practically holds your hand through the whole process and answers any questions promptly.  To the best of my knowledge, this is just the second time in the last 12 months that it has been offered on-line. She did teach it at that great sewing event, Sewing at the Beach.

Maggie said on-line.This is an online sewing and smocking lesson, held in a private group, here on FB. The fee for the lesson is $30.00. Kits are optional. You can sew from your stash! I post a lesson a day for about 2 weeks. The Group stays open for about 8 weeks after the lesson is complete for you to sew at your own pace. Sizes are 1/2 3/4 5/6 and 7/8

 

The first time round, I didn’t print out the instructions and files.   So when I made my second dress, a lot of mistakes were made.  Note the sloppy neck binding.

 

 

So I am repeating the class and you can be sure that I will keep notes and files.  Now you, too,  can take this class!  The pattern is not available for sale, just as part of the class.

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Ode to Joy Smocking Group is taking members. This Group is an online smocking class, lead by me, for the play top using quilting cottons or border prints.
This is a work at your own pace lesson. The lessons will be posted one a day for about two weeks starting June 1. Join now so you have time to get the list and order your supplies.
The fee $30.00 includes membership in the Group and all lessons from fabric choice to smocking to hem.
Please private message me your PayPal information for the lesson. Registration will close May 18.

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Through the years, several readers have commented on my smocked garments, saying they wish they knew how to smock.  Few live within easy driving distance of classes so this is a great option.
Other than wanting to learn more, I have no vested interested in this class.  I just want to share a great learning opportunity with you all.

Lenten Church Paraments

 

These Lenten paraments were made at the request of our pastor for our River City Church of DeBary.   The   purple fabric reflects the liturgical color for this season.

The embroidery is another beauty from  Windstar Embroidery Designs which has an enormous selection of spectacular liturgical designs.  This one is offered in two sizes, the smaller for the side-hanging bookmarks and the larger for the pulpit scarf.

 

Additionally, the cross drape, seen on the far right, was included in the set.  It is a 4 yards by 45″.  The set was hung the day before Ash Wednesday.

I’ve been sewing for many, many years and created a variety of items from clothing to quilts to home dec.  But none of this experience seemed helpful as I ventured into the world of stitching church paraments.  There are so many things that go into making what looks like a simple project. Continue reading

Hurricanes and Sewing

This is the view from my San Juan classroom several years ago.  I’m sure it looks very different now.

UPDATE:  Luis and his family were safe in Orlando when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.  He was trying to get a flight home but I have not heard from him as to his location.  Now I see that there is a dam breach near Isabella, the site of his home and one of his stores.  They have evacuated  70,000 people from the area.  Lord have mercy on the people of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean!

Since I last posted some three weeks ago, so much has happened–lots of sewing and lots more blowing.

As you all know, hurricane Maria  has devastated Puerto Rico and other  Caribbean islands.  The loss of life and property is gargantuan.   The conditions are horrific.

My two teaching trips in San Juan caused me to fall in love with this tropical paradise and its delightful people.  Now I am heartsick with worry about my gracious host and hostess, their family, and the talented students who embraced me with a warm welcome, helpful classroom translations and sincere invitations to visit their homes.

The ladies were all accomplished needleworkers.  Just look at some of their beautifully stitched projects here.   They all loved sewing and they loved their Brother sewing/embroidery machines.  Now, I fear, they may have lost it all.

I was able to send a facebook message to Luis Medina, my host for both events.    It is my fervent prayer that my Puerto Rican sewing friends as well as Luis and his family are safe.   I desperately hope to hear from him that this is the case.  Still, 4-6 months with no electricity is unimaginable.

A week before Maria, hurricane Irma  hit Florida.  We prepared as best we could, boarding up the house, testing the generator and making sure we had ample fuel and food.

 

 

After Irma blew through, many Floridians were left with floods and major damage.  The hardship for our neighbors was significant, particularly one whose generator failed as it was turned on.  She is almost bedridden and totally debilitated with cerebral palsy, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.  The heat, lack of running water and electricity was almost more than she could bear.   The 94 degree weather put her epileptic son at risk for more seizures.   Floridians suffered so much hardship. But neighbors helped neighbors.

A huge fallen oak tree blocked her driveway.  My dear ladder climbing husband removed most of that before his chainsaw broke and another neighbor finished up the job. Continue reading

Smocking Destash and Restash

Dear Friends,

If you’ve read my blog once  or twice you probably know that frequently I moan and groan about the out-of-control quantity of my sewing supplies.

But I have found a wonderful facebook group, Smocking Destash.  And you can join too!  It’s basically an on-line garage sale for sewing supplies!  You can buy and sell without charges like those on eBay.  The prices and ever-changing items being offered are just fabulous.

The need for room to move around causes me to offer bargains.

 

There are two more bookcases full of fabric, much of it needing a new home.

 

I vacillate between shame and motivation to reduce the amount to a manageable size.

 

Continue reading

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. Continue reading