Monday, September 30, 2013


Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society
just because that talent wears a skirt.  
~ Shirley Chisholm

Over the last week or so, I made myself TWO skirts!  Both were yoked skirts with a a zipper - one on the side and one in the center back.  It was interesting to make the two skirts right in a row, so that I was able to compare the patterns and their effects.  

First, this simple A-line skirt in an Alexander Henry print:  

Next, this skirt - not a full circle skirt, but definitely fuller (and shorter) than the A-line above:  

They both fit well and the yokes are the same width - but you can see the length and fullness comparisons here:  

Both were quick and simple to make - and are fun to wear.  For work, the A-line is better - for dancing, the pink flowers!  ;)

I'm so happy to be back in the sewing room!  And...  

... that's not all that I'm back to...  

Wait until you see what I was up to over the weekend...   ;)

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Bit of Family Pride

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is is for good men to do nothing.
~ Edmund Burke (disputed)

My nephew, a junior at the University of Alabama, was interviewed last night by Anderson Cooper!  That is my nephew, circled in red.  He writes for the university newspaper and was interviewed because of his opinion pieces in opposition of the racial segregation of the sororities and fraternities on campus.  Needless to say, we have been proud of this young man for years - he is smart, funny, caring and willing to take a stand for what he believes is right.  Yesterday and today, we're excited for him too!  :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What's Wrong with this (Gratuitous Kitten) Picture?

The easiest lies to tell are the ones you want to be true.
~ Holly Black

I'll give you a hint - this is that little nameless stray kitten that has been hanging around OUTSIDE our house...  

See how cute she looks hiding in the shrubbery?  curled up in a flower bed?  stretched out on the grass?  scampering up a tree?

What?  She's no longer outside, you say?  But... how can that be?  

Tell me the truth - is it too late for me?  Will I ever learn to say "No" ?

Speaking of "nameless" - that part, at least, is still true.  Do you see that she's missing the tip of one ear?  My husband said that, if she was a "he", a good name would be Vincent (for Van Gogh) - but what should we do for a female?  Any ideas?  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Work of the Mind

The mind, basically, is a pattern-seeking machine.  
~Stephen Jay Gould

Do you know what your brain is doing behind your back?  Without your permission?  Ala wild-wild-west, rogue cowboy style?  

I'll tell you what it's doing.

It's looking around at all the loose odds and ends in your life and grabbing pairs of them and tying them into knots.  It's making connections.  It's finding patterns.  

And it's finding them under every rock!  ;)

Oh, don't get me wrong - it isn't working completely randomly.  It tries to pair up its and pieces that might conceivably go together...  

The things is, the human mind is so incredibly flexible, it can pretty much find a way to justify just about any cockamamie pairing that a random number generator could ever come up with!  

And so, why am I not getting any sewing done?  Oh, you know, I'm pretty stressed at work right now...  And I've got this long commute (2.5 hours per day) that eats up a lot of may day, not to mention that ESL class that I teach on Tuesday nights...  Oh, don't forget that we've just taken in a foster teen, which is a huge adjustment and drain on my time...  

All perfectly conceivable connections, right?  

So, if those are true, then why is it that, the minute I clean up the cutting table in my sewing room, I suddenly find myself sewing up a storm?  

Could it be that my mind jumped to a faulty conclusion or two?  ;)

Could it be that the thing holding me back from doing more sewing was nothing more complicated or deeply-rooted in my psyche than some clutter?  

And, the most important question of all - does this mean I need to clean up my desk at work?  ;)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Give 'Em What They Want

If you can make people feel it's okay to enjoy themselves, 
you've got a winning product - whatever it is.
~ Hugh Hefner

I haven't given up on getting our foster teen interested in sewing.  I switched tactics last weekend and suggested that we sew something for HER to wear.  She picked this pattern:  

The short one - in case you weren't sure...  Did I mention that she's 17 years old?  ;)

It is a pretty straight forward pattern - a front and a back, a yoke, a belt and belt loops:  

She picked a pretty pink fabric with a happy flower print.  

In other words, when it comes to styles, we are very different.  But when it comes to colors and prints, my tastes match those of a 17 year old...   ;)

It did, generally, go together easily - the one exception was attaching the yoke to the skirt body - it was a bit fidgety getting these two pieces to line up.  I had to help a lot with that part.  

But she did great on the invisible zipper!  

My only modification to the pattern had to do with the belt loops.  The instructions had you putting them on LAST - so that there were semi-exposed raw edges.  What's up with that?  

I had her put them on the yoke pieces first, so that all the raw edges were hidden inside the yoke.  

Other than that, it was a quick and easy project - our foster teen did most of it herself.  

How did she like the finished product?  

Judge for yourself!  :)

I just may make a convert out of her yet...  ;)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Maiden Voyage

Get a bicycle.  
You will not regret it, 
if you live.  
~ Mark Twain

What a weekend!  I got in some sewing (details & pictures later this week) AND we took our bikes for their maiden voyage in my husband's bike rack!  

The rack worked like a charm!  

We biked a little over 5 miles of the Van Fleet State Trail:  

One of the things I like about the trail is that they mark every 0.1 of a mile - so we always knew exactly how far we had gone, and how much more we had to go...  ;)

Another nice thing about the trail - it is straight and flat...  You can almost see the end - 29 miles away - from the beginning!  ;)

I've heard that some folks have seen alligators while biking this trail - we saw a turtle - but he elected not to be photographed, "darting" into his hole when we stopped our bikes.  Well, maybe it wasn't exactly a darting movement - maybe the process whereby I stop my bike (without falling off) and get my camera ready takes long enough for a turtle to "amble" back into his hole...  ;)

It wasn't a long ride, but we really enjoyed it and, now that we've successfully accomplished all of the steps, we'll be going out there many more weekends!  :)

I hope everyone had a great sewing weekend, and I'll show you the activity from my sewing room later this week.  :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Saying Good-Bye to an Amazing Red Head

"All the action adventure girls have red hair," he said. 
"Whenever it is an independent girl, not a sidekick person, 
when she has her own mind or does as good as the guys, 
she has red hair."  
~ Marion Roach

The world of bloggers...

The world of sewists...

The whole world...

My world...  

We have all lost a very special woman.  

GwenSews of All My Seams was called home to her Lord on September 14th, 2013.  

I can't believe I'll never get to see her beautiful creations on her blog again, nor get to read any more of her warm and encouraging comments...  

And I can't even begin to imagine the grief that her family must be experiencing.  If you haven't already, stop by her blog and leave a message for her daughter, telling her how much Gwen has meant to all of us.  I know it will mean a lot to her...  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Advice, Please!

A new broom sweeps clean,
but the old broom knows the corners.
~ Irish Saying

So, I've got an 11 year old, mid-level mechanical Kenmore sewing machine.  Truthfully, it's done right by me over the years...  I think of it like a little work horse - nothing fancy and a little bit noisy, but it keeps going and going...  

It definitely needs a tune-up - it is starting to give me problems with the tension and the buttonhole does NOT work well at all anymore.  Each tune-up costs about $100, so 3 or 4 tune-ups and all of a sudden you're looking at the cost of another machine...  

So, I'm wondering what I should do.  Should I take it in for another tune-up or should I start shopping for a replacement machine - and maybe move up a notch or two in the sewing machine hierarchy?  

Actually, the thing I most want advice about is the mechanical versus computerized decision.  I have this sense that mechanical machines are more reliable and cheaper to repair and computerized machines are more finicky and expensive to repair.  (Of course, I still drive a manual transmission car, so that tells you something about me!)  

Am I right or am I out of touch?  Whenever I upgrade - now or several years from now - should I stick with a mechanical machine or should I "get with the times" and go computerized?  Any and all advice will be greatly welcome!  Thanks!  :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Before and After

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that 
one is constantly making exciting discoveries.  
~ A. A. Milne

I've been here before, more times than I care to remember...  It starts so simply - I'm in a rush and I just lay one thing down on my cutting table.

You know, the cutting table - that very convenient, very large and very flat surface that just seems to be begging to hold things for me.  Oh, just until I have time to put those things in their proper places, of course.  

Before I know it, this is the sight that greets me in my sewing room:  

And soon the mess seems overwhelming...  It becomes a vicious circle - I can't get the most out of my sewing time because the room is so disorderly, but I don't want to give up my sewing time to clean...  

I know - what a baby, right?  ;)

Anyways, I took some time on Sunday afternoon and dove in, to see what exciting discoveries I might make.  

There were books, magazines, patterns, fabrics, and notions - it was almost like a shopping spree, where you don't have to spend any money!  

And the best discovery of all?  A beautiful, clean, wide-open work space!  

Now I can finish up my post card blouse and then decide what project I want to tackle next.  :)

With my track record, it would be foolish to promise that I'll never let it get that bad again - but I certainly hope I can drag this out for as long as possible...  Wish me luck!  :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gratuitous Kitten Picture

Women and cats will do as they please, 
and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.  
~ Robert Heinlein

Apparently the combination - a female cat - is especially lethal.  

Notice that far-away, contemplative look in her eyes as she chews on poor Popeye?  

Oh, Sophie...  

Monday, September 16, 2013

My First!

You never forget your first time.  
~ Anonymous

SCENE:  Saturday morning breakfast rush; waiting in line at a McDonald's Restaurant

RANDOM STRANGER:  I really like your top.  

ME:  (smiles) Oh, thank you!  

RANDOM STRANGER:  Yeah, I really like it...  (pause)  Where did you get it?  

ME:  (face-splitting smile)  I made it.  


Later, my husband reminded me that at least two people have asked where he got one of the Hawaiian shirts that I made for him, but this was the first time someone asked me about something I was wearing.  

Do you remember your first time?  Where did it happen?  What were you wearing?  Who asked?  I'd love to hear about it.  :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Best Card Ever

How did the people at Hallmark know?  

They've never even met me!  ;)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's Official - I am NOT a Logistician

There can't be a crisis next week, my schedule is already full.  
~ Henry Kissinger

Yikes!  How can adding 1 person to our household throw my schedule into such chaos?  

I guess that when you start with two full time jobs, two long commutes and a house that is 3 miles from any public transportation system in a town that doesn't have taxi service and then add a teen who doesn't drive, but still needs to have a life - things can quickly spiral out of control!   :(

It's going to get easier, right?  We're going to get a system down and every single day is not going to be a scramble, right?  

(Just say "yes" - PLEASE!!!!)  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Lack of Patience

There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you,
and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself.  
~ Lemony Snicket

Well, I couldn't wait for my schedule to align with both the mood and the schedule of our foster teen - I went ahead and made the matching skirt for her daughter:

We found a cute pink ribbon with brown polka dots that is the perfect trim!  :)

I wanted to put the same trim on the top, but she didn't want me to - sigh...  ;)

Oh well, it was still really nice to get into the sewing room!  :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Gratuitous Kitten Picture

Arise from sleep, old cat,
And with great yawns and stretchings...
Amble out for love.
~ Kobayashi Issa

Oliver keeps me company in my sewing room, snoozing by the window...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Solo Sewing

Youth is a perpetual intoxication, a fever of the brain.  
~ Francois de la Rouchefoucauld

Our foster teen had a bit of a traumatic weekend vis-a-vis her Facebook boyfriend - welcome to love in the new century...  So she did a lot of talking on her cell phone at night and sleeping during the day.  

I went ahead and worked on this top for her daughter by myself - there will be plenty of time for us to sew together (if she wants to) in the coming weeks and months.  

I love this top - it is so simple, with only these two pattern pieces - the center front is placed on the fold:  

You cut 4 of the back and 2 of the front, so that it is fully lined - this avoids the need for facings around the neck and armholes:  

The sparkly, ballerina monkey fabric was a bit stiff, so I shopped my stash for a softer pink cotton for the lining:  

After attaching the back pieces to the front piece at the shoulders (of both the lining and the fashion fabric), you stitch the fashion fabric and the lining together (right sides together) around the armholes and the neck and center back seams.  Then you pull the 2 back pieces through the shoulder holes, to turn it right side out.  It's pretty simple and it ends up looking quite nice!  

All you have to do after that is close up the side seams:  

Which you also do in a way to hide all the seams:  

By opening the seams out and stitching right sides together...  

Okay, there is one more "pattern piece" - you also have to cut a long rectangle for the bottom band.  The last time I made this top, I gave the band square ends.  This time, I used my French curve ruler and gave it rounded edges.  

In hindsight, it might have looked better if I had used a drinking glass.  I don't think this curve is the right proportion...  

You put some gathers on each side of the band - but you don't gather it all the way around.  Here is a view of the back - still missing the button holes and buttons:  

The gathers are supposed to be centered around the side seams:  

Here is a shot of the front:  

Hopefully, our teen and I can make the matching skirt together - fingers crossed that the latest drama will subside soon...  Poor kid...  

I hope you had a great sewing weekend and are ready for the work week...  :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Two Miscellaneous Bits

And in the end, the love you take
is equal to the love you make.  
~ The Beatles

Over the holiday weekend I took our foster teen to Joann's - she possibly wasn't quite as enamored of the experience as I am...  ;)

But she was drawn to those bolts of pre-shirred fabric.  I don't actually consider this a sewing project, but I bought enough of the Dora print to allow her to make sundresses for her little sister, her young daughter and her niece (all living in Honduras):  

At least she added shoulder straps...  (Mainly because we stumbled across coordinating Dora ribbon...)  Man, all that stuff (pre-shirred fabric and ribbon) is not cheap!  

In other news, my husband and I celebrated our 31st anniversary this week.  :)

We pretty much agreed not to exchange gifts this year - and of course we both violated the agreement!  He got me a dozen red roses and I made a guitar-shaped mosaic for him (at one of those paint your own pottery places).  We're going out dancing this weekend to celebrate - hopefully we won't embarrass ourselves too badly on a public dance floor!  ;)

Saturday looks pretty busy this weekend, but hopefully I can do some sewing on Sunday.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!  And I hope you have a wonderful sewing weekend too!  :)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Gratuitous (Stray) Kitten Picture

One cat just leads to another.
~ Ernest Hemingway

It's happened again - we're leaving out food for a stray kitten...

You would have thought we'd have learned our lesson after Sophie...  ;)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Unauthorized Shopping Part II

Books are educational; so you can buy as many as you want.  
~ Sophie Kinsella

You know how I had to buy something else, in order to get the printer cable that I needed on  Well, it wasn't enough to just buy something else - my other purchases had to total $25, and one Japanese pattern book wasn't expensive enough, so I had to get two!  

I know, I know...  It's a nightmare...  ;)

For my second Japanese pattern book, I picked out Simple Modern Sewing by Shufu To Seikatsu Sha.  

I'm afraid I'm less happy with this purchase...  

I think that "simple" must be a synonym for shapeless.  :(

This style may work for some folks, but not for my body...  I never really think that it's a waste to have more patterns in the house, but I don't think I'll be making any of these any time soon...   

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Unauthorized Shopping Part I

The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.
~ Erma Bombeck

I have been trying to curb my shopping habit recently, but I needed a printer cable and Amazon was selling the cable as an "add-on item" - which meant that I just had to buy something else...  ;)

I picked up two Japanese pattern books - the first is Girls Style Book by Yoshiko Tuskiori and H. H.  Here are some of the patterns:

I love this pintucked blouse!  

There are 24 patterns altogether.  

I think the dresses are particularly sweet.  

The only patterns that didn't seem very well done were the shorts patterns - in all of the pictures where the shorts were being worn by models, they were bunched up awkwardly...  

I'm glad I got this one - there are several patterns that I can imagine making for my friends' daughters.  :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

A New Student

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.  
Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
~ George Carlin

Were you placing bets on how long this would take?  

I helped our foster teen sew for her very first time - we made a pleated skirt with an elastic waistband for her 2-year-old daughter (who is living with our foster teen's mother in Honduras).  We used a pattern, fabric and ribbon from my stash.  

She was a bit nervous and a bit excited, but generally willing to jump in and try things:  

For a person who doesn't seem to be able to go 2 hours without documenting her life with a photo of herself on Facebook, I'm not sure why she rolled her eyes when I wanted to take her picture!  ;)

But she had fun and did a good job.  It was nice to see how quickly she was able to control her speed with the foot pedal and the straightness and location of her rows of stitches.  

We used the Snoopy fabric and added a pink ribbon around the bottom:  

Check out those blue fingernails!  :)

She was surprised and happy with how well it came out:  

Do you think I have another convert?  ;)