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Christmas 2020

 

Not exactly a Griswold house, but it was enough to please us. And there is more in the back around the pool. Bob really wanted to please the children with all the lights. Lighted reindeer are perched on the garage roof, 4 snowflakes hang in front of the breakfast porch, candles are in the windows and my sewing room on the right is lighted up like an airport runway. Should have turned that off before Bob snapped this shot.

This is our 46th Christmas in this house and it seems each one gets better as all of our dreams have come true.

Well, the Most Wonderful Time of the Year has come and gone and it was a glorious time. For at least a few days of the week both of our children and  their families were with us and the house was filled with laughter, music, good food, dogs, and chaos.

Since our son was about 10, the Noel proclamation has been mysteriously rearranged on the mantel with our boy neither pleading nor looking guilty, offering only an innocent smile.  Now his son Robert has taken up the gauntlet and another Noel has fallen victim to the prank.

We never know what the mantel or the mirror will proclaim.  Some days it’s NOLE or OLEO, though LEON seems to be favored–you just never know.  Some speculate that it’s  the work of the Elf on the Shelf.

Meanwhile, the piano seems to be playing non-stop, whether it be Ryan, Laurel or Robert at the keyboard, with only cookie breaks in the music.  When Ryan was a child, his job was to play after dinner as Rebecca and I cleaned the kitchen.   It made her want piano lessons.

My boy loves music as do his children.

Sweet, sweet memories.

It was to be a great puzzle. 11 yo Alastair grins at his success, while mama Rebecca holds well-behaved Mendel and Robert FINALLY gave in to have his picture taken.

We worked on a Christmas puzzle on the back porch in 80 degree weather.  Then in one brief, unsupervised moment, Sebastian, our 1 year old Pyrenees pup, nicknamed The White Devil,  pulled the unfinished puzzle off the table and chewed up several pieces.  Oh well.

Gingerbread houses were built and decorated, basketball was played in the driveway, football games were watched,  driving lessons were given to 15 yo Robert,  eggnog was chugged, stories were told, cats and dogs were played with and loved on, church was zoomed and life was merry at the Ferguson home.

Our dinner table was festive, set with the traditional Christmas menu.  Along with pumpkin pie, Laurel made a divine cranberry cake, with cream cheese frosting sprinkled with chopped walnuts, decorated with candied cranberries.

As expected, Vivian’s white lace Christmas dress was too big, so she wore cousin Laurel’s 10 yo black velveteen Sugar Plum Fairy Christmas dress which had been hanging in  the nursery closet waiting for her to grow into it.  Finally she did.  Brother Alastair was dashing, as usual, in his  holiday finery.

I wish I had taken more pictures, but I got so wrapped up in the wonder of it all.  My wish is that you all had a joyous Christmas and celebrated the reason of the season.

From our house to yours, I wish you a happy and healthy 2021.

 

 

Embroidered Christmas Cards

It’s been forever since a new post has been put up here at Janice Ferguson Sews and I can’t say just why.  Everyone thinks we should have so much time being pretty much shut down with the pandemic but I seem to be busier than ever! I did get a new hip and the therapy seemed to eat up all my energy and a huge amount of time.  And it did help.

But back to blogging…….these embroidered  holiday cards are my latest tutorial for Brother’s blog Stitching Sewcial and I LOVED making them.  Were it not for the drudgery of laundry, cooking, cleaning, and the weeds that NEVER stop growing in Florida, etc. I’d make a hundred!  They are so much fun!  Check out the how-to tutorial here.  

The tri-fold cards I ordered ordered are just wonderful  They came with a variety of colors with optional oval or rectangular shapes.  I highly recommend this vendor, though I have no connection other than that of a satisfied customer.

You might notice that there are two drawings on fabric by children (my grands) which were then placed over a thin layer of batting, free-motion outlined then stippled before inserted into tri-fold cards.  Details are in the Brother blog tutorial.

 

Alastair drew his dog and cat lover Vivian, of course, drew a cat.  It took a little creative text to pull it all together.  Some grandparents, I’m sure, will be delighted.

Trifold cards are not necessary.  Several cards were made with plain cardstock while others were made from larger, fancy cardstock from craft stores like Michaels.  Some were made with simple text on cardstock.

With the addition of felt, buttons, ribbon and whatever, you can just go crazy.

One of my favorite cards was made with this design from Embroidery Online’s  I Believe in Santa Collection.  This is a gorgeous set, marked down to $25, but each design is available individually for just $1.  Other designs include I Believe in Hope, In Harmony, In Giving, In Family and so much more.  Just a beautiful collection.

So these homemade cards are my recommendation for some lockdown holiday fun.  The recipients will love them and you will have a big time making them.

Merry Christmas to all!

P.S.  I’m looking forward to showing you granddaughter Vivian Rose in her Christmas dress, the white lace dress from Sew Classic.  Lovely as it is on a child, at least in the magazine, it hangs a little limp on a hangar so I am waiting for her to model it. When it arrived her mother said Vivi’s mouth was purple (she didn’t know why) and and the little urchin was dirty, dirty, dirty.  So trying it on her would have to wait.  I’m waiting.

What have you sewn for the holidays?

Required disclaimer:  I am a paid Brother Ambassador.  Not required:  I LOVE my Brother machines.

 

 

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