Thursday, May 27, 2010

Now We Have Matching Bags for the Girls + Jewelry

Everytime I think I am finished, I come up with another idea...both girls beed a pocket book! About the time I completed those, one of my fellow teachers decided she wanted one of the little sundresses for her 5 year old to wear to her “graduation” next Thursday. Well,  now I’m making her one from the daisies on the pick fabric.  She was so tickled she made each of the girls a little necklace and a bracelet to wear with their outfits.  These are the little things that make sewing those one of a kind outfits so much fun to create....and spur of the moment gifting is just the best feeling in the world.  To see the big smile on the face of the recipient warms my heart. Now Reagan, Eloise, and Georgia will have matching dresses all based upon Amy’s precious "sundress pattern,” and they will all three have their little pocket books.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Now We Have a Matching Outfit

My granddaughter has a precious “best friend” who is also 5 years old.  Both the girl’s moms were best friends , too, growing up.  After thinking about it for a little bit, I decided to make Georgia a matching sundress, but with different colored ribbons to tell them apart. I am taking them to the girls on Friday and can’t wait to post a photo of them in their outfits. This afternoon I started making another one as a gift for one of our teacher’s 5 year old daughter to wear to her “graduation” next Thursday.  Hers is out of the pink with the daisies it.  It is definitely the seersucker fabric and the wide polka dotted grosgrain that makes these little dresses so whimsical and appealing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Graduation Here We Come..A New Dress and Two New Bags!

   A week from today my first grandchild will graduate from prep school and be off to college to become a chemical engineer  My attendance at his graduation is one of the items on my “Bucket List,” and it looks like I am going to get my wish.  All this weekend I have been plugging away finishing a special sundress for my little five year old granddaughter following Amy’s Finlayson’s precious “Simple Sundress Pattern”  and a new variation on the Anna Maria Horner “I Want One of Everything Bag” for me to carry. On this dress I used four grosgrain ties rather than one long one that Amy uses in her pattern. The little squares with the letters E-L-O-I-S-E in them above the ruffle on the are from Shrinky Dink plastic. For my bag, I made another modification to Anna Maria’s original pattern by bringing it in about an inch on each side and extending the straps by about two inches. This way it is a bit less bulky to carry, and it hangs nicely from my shoulder. I used Walmart fabric rather than the Amy Butler fabrics, and I think the result looks just fine. For my granddaughter’s bag, I made a smaller pattern the same as mine and used the leftover fabric. I’m a very happy camper tonight!

My First Attempt at Creating a Collage

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For a while I have wanted to learn how to create a collage for my blog using photos I've taken of flowers, nature, and interesting things from life.  Today I decided to take the plunge and just do it!  After reading about Smilebox I thought I would give it a try and went with their 14 day free trial package.  It does leave you with their ad under the collage, but it is't too obtrusive and I'm OK with it.  It was a fun first attempt at a digital grouping.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Finally, Another Pillowcase Dress

I fell behind for a week or so, but I am finally back on track.  Today I made another of my “100 Dress Challenge” dresses and had the best time doing it because I was following a new pattern design. Students and teachers continue to donate fabric and notions to me, so I must set aside more time to work on them. This one is from a different pattern  called “Simple Sundress Pattern” with a deep gathered neckline and French seams.  Amy Finlayson of www. designed it and shows it on on her site. If you would like to make it for non-commercial use, you can email her for the pattern at afinlarc@yahoocom.  Hers is a precious and very feminine and little girly pattern, and I love it. I am making one for my little granddaughter, Elose, too. Amy’s pattern calls for no bias tape or elastic.  Instead, she uses twice underturned armholes and a shoulder tie made from a coordinated fabric. The long 2 1/2 inch tie with the big bow on the shoulder is especially attractive. I made this  dress to donate to Little Dresses for Africa as one of my “100 Dress Challenge” dresses.  It was not at all complicated and a lot of fun to sew.  If you like the pattern, take at look at Amy’s blog.  Her tutorial is wonderful: well written, easy to follow, and nothing you need to know is left out! Happy sewing, and if you have the time, think about making some pillowcase dresses for "Little Dresses for Africa.” It is a wonderful cause, and trust me, once you start you will get the warm fuzzies each time to sew one together.

When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others. -- Chinese Proverb 

Variation #2 of Anna Maria Horner “I Want One of Everything Bag"

Two weeks from today is going to be one of the most exciting and happiest days in my life.  I will be attending the graduation of my first grandchild’s graduation form St. Andrew’s School, in Middletown, DE.  I already had a Flax suit but wanted a new bag to wear with it.  I loved the blue plaid variation of the Anna Maria Horner “I Want One of Everything Bag” I made a week or so ago so much it was a no-brainer...make another one but using blacks this time.  The lining is a tiny black polka dot on a dark gray April Cornell fabric and the exterior is a black and white batik apple print.  For the strap carrier I used some plain Moda black.  Since the suit had beige on the collar and sleeves I decided to add some antique tanish-beige pearl buttons I’ve had squired away for years. It took no time at all to complete and love the way it turned out. I can’t wait to hang it over my shoulder and head off to the “big event.” 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Gift - A Special Thank You

We have the sweetest and hardest working bookkeeper at our middle school.  Last summer her daughter, the mother of 2 small children, was diagnosed with a horrible and extremely rare cancer.  She is participating in a trial program with 2 younger males (I think) through NIH in Baltimore.  It is a cancer (I think) that lies dormant for many years sometimes resulting from a childhood injury. Then suddenly it appears with a vengeance  later on in life. All of the staff have tried this year to help in our own little ways.  Each day one month we took turns leaving a little something on her desk as a morale booster , to let her we were all thinking of her and her daughter, and that we were praying for her recovery.  Mrs. P. is always so kind and helpful to me, is always there for me when I need her, so I wanted to do a little something warm and fuzzy and different for her daughter.   I made her a bright lap quilt with a matching placemat for her bed tray.  I used flannel for the backing which helped to make it warm and cozy, and I chose the polka dots to try to make it as cheery as possible. She sent me the dearest little note, but today she did something so very sweet and special I wanted to share it with you all.  She called me to the office and opened up a big box of the most preciously homemade and hand decorated sugar cookies I had ever seen.  She told me to take one just as she had told the other teachers as a little thank you to all of us.  It is so dear I cannot even imagine eating it, and I’m such a sentimentalist I started to cry when she gave it to me. Now I have it sitting by my bed reminding me that when I am feeling down I must remember there are those who are suffering far more that I could begin to imagine.  It also reminds me of how very fortunate I am. Well, before delivering some more of the cookies to several teachers on my hall, I stopped in my room, pulled out my little camera and took this photo to share with you all. What a unique and loving way to say thank you. Her daughter is going back to Baltimore next week, so she will be in all of our thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Taxi Tote

I just completed another one of Anna Maria Horner’s bags from Seams to Me.  It’s roomy and hangs perfectly over my shoulder.  I love it!  I added a double pocket to the inside for my cell phone and my iPod...can’t go out without them! It was such an easy pattern to follow. It is full of great ideas.  Three fourths yard of lining fabric,  another three fourths yard for the outer bag fabric, and some double sided bias binding was all I needed to make it. I’ve definitely gotten my money out of the purchase of her little book.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Variation of the “I Want One of Everything Bag"

Our school librarian who has been spearheading my “100 Dress Challenge” was looking at my “I Want One of Everything Bag” and came up with the neatest suggestion.  Should you ever need to make a quick, last minute gift, this is perfect.  It can be completed easily in a day or less. Her idea was to make the same bag, but this time to use only 3 fabrics: one for the outside, one for the lining, and another for the strap channel.  I took her up on it and did just that with a blue and white plaid front, a light due denim for the lining and a blue and white floral strap channel.  I wear blue jean fabric dresses to school all the time so thought it would look really cute. Since I was out of medium non-fussible interfacing,  I used what I had on hand which was a medium weight fusible one. The bag seemed really stiff when I completed it, but after giving it a wash in warm water it came out perfectly.  I can’t wait to use it tomorrow and see the look on my friend’s face.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


                           Homegrown farmyard/chicken house eggs

Farm fresh sweet peas just picked this morning

Farm grown beef raised about 15 miles from our house and processed here in Lexington, VA

                 Homemade beeswax made by a friend of mine who has bees

    Our local farmer’s market is finally open and at a beautiful spot - the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, VA. With the regal horses walking in the background it is a picturesque location. Not only did I find healthy, homegrown meat, eggs, vegetables, and plants, I got to see old friends and the parents of students I taught in midde school in years past. What a great morning I had getting caught up on all the news.  For years Lexington had its own slaughterhouse and then the owners closed it and used the building for other things. Now, it has reopened....YEAH! Note the eggs. A year or so ago I saw the neatest photo of these “colored” eggs at Flickr pokeypatch posted by what I call “a real photographer.” It is the cover shot for her “Explored” set. At first I thought they were hand colored...well, I think not.  The green ones leave the chickens that color naturally.  I had already bought a dozen regular free range, no antibiotics and chemicals chicken eggs, but I could not resist getting these mixed colored ones to show my husband.  Next Saturday can’t come soon enough for me.  The only difference is I will get there earlier before everything is picked over. Welcome to the homegrown, local, and organically grown food on its way to our table. Oh, and the funny little round tan’s homemade beeswax made by my friend, Catherine.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Special Wrapping for the" I want One of Everything Bag"

This bag is a special present for a very person very precious to me so I wanted to do something different with the wrapping.  After a lot of thought, I came up with the idea of using color coordinated tissue paper with ties made from the fabric used in the purse.  I used pinking sheers for the hearts and ripped the ties like I did the straps. The results put a smile on my face. I’m not a very good photographer, but here are the results. Should you want to see some clever and attractive ways to use fabric in gifts, so the the Amy Butler main page, scroll down to the Free Patterns choice, and click.  It was her fabrics I used in making the bag.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Pillowcase, Sheet, and Fabric Stash Is Growing

The staff and students have been bringing in fabric, sheets, and pillowcases to help with my “100 Dress Challenge.”  I am amazed with how much I’ve received.  This weekend I’ll start on my next 12 dresses.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Please Stop by My New Blog

I have set up a new blog devoted to another project I am undertaking...


I will be making 100 one inch squares of embroidery depicting 100 things for which I feel blessed. This is an “I’m Stitchingalong” project, and there are participants from around the world.  It is going to be a real learning experience for me doing embroidery after so many years, and it will give me lots of time to reflect on all the blessings I have received in my life. Go to the Counting My Blessings site to read more about what we are all doing. If you like the background, please go to Aqua Poppy Designs to see more of Chelsea’s free backgrounds.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The "100 Dress Challenge” Is Progressing

The Orphans of Kenya

My presentation to our Student Council went so much better than I would ever have expected.   Having the capability to project the LDFA site from my laptop up onto the large screen was great because the students got to see the wonderful photographs of the children and the volunteers up close and personal. When I began sewing one of the dresses for them to learn the process, 2 of the girls sprawled out on the library tables with their noses close to my pressure foot mesmerized by the process.  Now they have talked me into bringing back my sewing machines so they can make some dresses of their own to donate. I even have one teacher bringing her machine to talk part in the sew-a-long. One of the boys actually became a model for the others.  We had the best time.  They all went back to their rooms and gave presentations and then last week the the pillowcases, fabrics, and notions started coming in.  Some pieces had been packed away for years and years, but now are going to be put to good use. I am so happy with the outcome. My upstairs “office” here at home is quickly being transformed into my Little Dresses for Africa room.  ..but that is a good thing!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I DID IT! “I Want One of Everything Bag” Completed

When I got up this morning, I was determined to work on the bag until it was finished.  I even gave up a chance on our first warm and gorgeous Saturday to go to the annual “Road and River Relay.” I was a woman on a mission.  My! What an accomplishment!  Putting the lining to the front and back was a doozie.  I could not understand the instructions to save my life.  Finally, I decided to baste it like I though it was supposed to be sewn and see if it was correct....well, time after time it wasn’t.  Finally I got it right. Thinking I would make another one, I took down lots of notes and kept a pictorial journal of each step in the process.  Since this is to be a special gift, I was careful to baste all of my seams...and I still had to rip on occasion.  When I was in boarding school with the Domican nuns, I can remember Sister Rose Brendan telling me in Home Ec...”Eugenia, if it is worth making, then it is worth ripping.  Otherwise quit the project and go and do something else”  That was in 1959, and it is still my rule of thumb.

                                 Close ups of the torn braided straps

                                    Close up of strap channel