Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sew for the Body You Have

Oh how I want to do this—sew for the body I have instead of wait til I lose the weight I gained back. I can't explain why I haven't been able to do this, although I've seen lots of reasons that this can be so difficult.

Has your sewing stalled because of your shape or size or weight or because gravity and/or aging are taking a toll?

Have you overcome this? Are you making any progress with these issues?

Please help me and anyone else who might read this.


Blessings and peace...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Respect the Knife

Oops, I did it again. I cut the ring finger of my right hand while cutting cauliflower, so off to Immediate Care I went. Didn't I do practically the same thing about a year and a half ago? Um, yes. Different finger, different vegetable. Just like last time, it was my own fault. (Louie blamed the cauliflower; how sweet is that?)

I should print this out and frame it and hang it in my kitchen.

Grateful for Immediate Care, the expertise of the Physician Assistant who stitched it up, health insurance that paid for most of it, and family and friends who are helping me.

P.S. I am starting to think about sewing again. Whew, I was beginning to wonder where my sewing mojo went. 

Blessings and peace...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

There's Something About Maxwell

Maxwell was born in Hickory, North Carolina, on March 17, 2000, which means that he was 14 years old yesterday. He is a British Shorthair, and he looked like this when he was about a month old, and my daughter, Emily, visited him for the first time.
Here he is with three of his litter mates.
Emily brought him here when he was 13 weeks old, and he looked like this.
And a couple of weeks later:
When Li'l Grey (one of his many nicknames) was about 9 months old, he was diagnosed with a virus in his optic nerves. What started out as a painful condition developed into a chronic health concern that is managed with daily medications, Interferon drops in his eyes, and lysine crushed and mixed with his food twice a day.  When a flare up starts, we add up to three additional medication drops, which we keep on hand so that we can usually "nip in the bud" any flare up. It has been several years since a flare up has fully developed.

Even with this problem, Maxwell has a Very Good Life*, and he brings us great joy and much laughter. He is sweet and friendly; he likes everybody.

About 10 years ago, it is quite possible that Maxwell saved our lives, yes! He alerted us (by reaching up a wall, over and over again, until I checked it out) to what turned out to be an electrical problem in a wall, which prompted Louie to turn off the power until he (Louie) opened the wall  and discovered some overheating wiring! If Maxwell hadn't alerted us to it, we would have gone to bed, and it's likely that a fire would have started and been well under way by the time a smoke detector would have sounded the alarm!

Maxwell is very polite. When it's time for his dinner, he comes into the kitchen and crouches down, staring at where his dinner would be if only someone would fix it for him, please! I think he'd prepare it himself if he could.
He is my very own Office Max. I had to take a photo of my laptop keyboard—because he just loves to sit on it and pluck off the keys—so that I could pop the keys back on in the right places. One time he started to create a macro, and another time he was busily composing an email. Perhaps to one of his brothers?
Always one to love tissue paper (he's opening his Christmas present here)...
and a help with holding down pattern pieces in my sewing room.
Maxwell is not afraid of a little workout.
His newest interest is jigsaw puzzles. (He swishes off *many* pieces from the table onto the floor. Every day.)
He comes upstairs every night at about 9 pm for his treats (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: hairball treats, all other days: tartar control treats). I give him his treats, he runs downstairs, then reappears 5 minutes later as if to say, "Okay, I'm here for my treats now"—as if he hadn't just had them! Every night!

Because it is stress that is the greatest "cause" of a flare up, we maintain a steady routine for him. He is never left alone overnight. My son, Chris, maintains Maxwell's medication and feeding routines and sleeps here the once or twice a year that Louie and I are both away at the same time.

Last Tuesday night, I returned home from Florida. On Wednesday morning, the very minute I removed the last item from my carry-on bag, Maxwell did what he always does, positioned himself on the bag and settled in for a nice nap, while outside it was a blizzard (really). Here's his day in photos:
These are just a few of the reasons that today, I say, Happy Birthday, Maxwell! We love you, Li'l Grey ~ Maxwell House ~ Blue ~ Mr. Tomato Head ~ Mr. Maxwell!

* "Capitalize the Important Words" is an editorial style choice, although not one endorsed by the Chicago Manual of Style (or any other style guide, really).

So, what do you love about your pets?

Blessings and peace...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Not So New Year's Resolution, But Still

It's been a bit of a wild ride, interiorly speaking, and now that I'm posting again, and it's still January, I thought I'd share my resolution with you. Actually, I didn't create it; it's something written by Blessed John XXIII (Roman Catholic pope from 1958 to 1963, who surprised the world when at the age of almost 80, convened the Second Vatican Council). This is called "The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII."

A person (I) could improve their (my) interior (and exterior) life tremendously by focusing on this daily for a year. Or longer. Actually, after reading this each morning, I just might select only one or two to incorporate into my life that day. It would likely still result in progress.

Only for Today

  1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
  2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
  3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
  4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
  5. Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
  6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
  7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.
  8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
  9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
  10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.
— Blessed Pope John XXIII

And you, friends? Does any of this resonate with you? How are you coming with your New Year's Resolutions or your Word (or Phrase) for the Year?

Blessings and peace... – — – — – — – — –

Monday, October 14, 2013

My First Sew Along: Make a Garment a Month

Inspired by seeing the cute green button over at the right, which I've seen on several sewing friends' blogs, I've decided to join in my first sew along. It's a personal challenge to make one garment each month. From Sarah Liz, who is hosting this sew along, "I think being in a group is motivating, and is a great way to "show and tell" to other people who also share a love of sewing." Here are the rules:
  1. The garment must be for you and not for someone else - this challenge is also about personal sewing space and your sewing needs. This is special sewing-for-you time.
  2. Choose a garment at the beginning of the month that you want to make up as your garment of the month. It can be from a pattern, an idea, a picture from a magazine, snoop shopping - whatever you like. Post this choice for the month on your blog and tell everyone what pattern you are using or what choice you are making.
  3. Blog about the garment when you have finished it (and in between if you want to). Please take a photo of yourself wearing the garment - and if you feel that you would like to, style the garment as well.  Clearly label the post "Make a Garment a Month" - my garment for "month".
  4. If you want to link back to my blog, you are welcome to do so.
Wish me luck! Off to ponder... what shall I make?
Blessings and peace...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Atticus Is a Very Special Kitty

UPDATE Wednesday, October 16: Today is the last day that I am offering matching funds. So far, $375 has been raised, and with my matching funds, it's at $445 toward the goal of $526. Keep reading to learn all about Atticus and this fundraiser to pay for his recent surgery. Thanks!

My daughter, Emily, was living in an apartment complex in Charlotte, NC, when these photos were taken. Several feral (and lost and abandoned) kitties found their way to her second floor apartment at dinnertime every day. Emily provided food, water, and kindness. She was able to capture a few and have them examined by a vet and spayed/neutered. Oh, and that's when she started getting allergy shots because she is allergic to cats!
Limpy Kitty (whose name is now Atticus) was my favorite of them all. He didn't let his disabilities (a significant limp and very poor eyesight) keep him from being open to Emily's kindness; in fact, he was a friend to all the other kitties (and quite the handsome suitor to some, according to the appearance of some kittens, if you know what I mean). We learned that some time before Emily lived there, Atticus fell (or was dropped) from a third floor balcony; he somehow survived despite his injuries and getting no care.

It wasn't just Atticus. There were Vivid Kitty, Li'l Black Sleekster, Marmalade, Mittens, Baby Kitty, and Tenor Kitty. Oh and Darla and Gateway. Emily cared for them all.
Atticus and Baby Kitty

Li'l Black Sleekster

Vivid Kitty and Tenor Kitty

They mostly lived in the wooded area next to the complex, and one or more would arrive at Emily's just in time for dinner.

When the apartment complex changed their policy about outdoor kitties (Do Not Feed The Outdoor Cats!), Emily was able to relocate a few through, including Atticus who went to live with Kelley, where he has been for several years. Emily and Kelley (and Betsy, who brought Emily and Kelley together) have become good friends through it all. BTW, these were only a few of the kitties that Emily helped. Some were camera shy. >^-^<

Kelley is one of those people who has such a heart for special-needs cats and dogs. She has several of each living with her, and she gives them all a safe, loving place to live out their days. Atticus is blind, but as far as I know, other than his limp, for which there is no longer any treatment, has been doing well.
Kelley and Atticus
Atticus recently needed surgery to remove one of his eyes because of inflammation and pain. Kelley lives on a fixed income, and she needs help with the cost of the surgery, which was $576. More than half of it has already been raised.

In appreciation for Emily, who cared for him for more than a year, and Kelley, who has cared for him for several years, (and in honor of our Maxwell, who has made a few appearances here and has eye problems of his own), I just made a donation. And I will also match every donation that you, my blog readers, make (by this Wednesday, October 16, and mention me or my blog in the comments of the donation page (rather than here). This link will take you right to the page to help pay for Atticus' surgery: You Caring. I checked out the organization and it is 100% legitimate.

When someone thanks me for something or other, I usually say, "We help each other!" This is one of those times that—togetherwe can help Kelley and Atticus.

Sewing content on my next post, I promise!
Blessings and peace...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Not Just Another Apron, to Me Anyway

When last we talked, I showed you the remaining fabric from the 3.5 yards of "autumn leaves" quilting cotton fabric, which I've been using to make table top items (placemats, table runners), shown here and here.  

My plan was to make an apron. Good news: I did it!

Better news: I also used some darker blue/teal linen, part of it was repurposing some linen pants I made (ahem) some time ago and a little bit of it was from my "resource center" (AKA stash).

I decided on a chef's apron style because that is such an easy style of apron to make. Except that I would be piecing fabrics. And I've been learning that when using quilting cotton, I prefer my aprons to be two layers (yes, I am messy in the kitchen), so I decided to make it reversible. And I prefer the neckband to be one piece (not ties) that is large enough to go over my head—while I have my glasses on—but high enough in front when I'm wearing it, so I decided to insert some elastic in the one-piece neckband. Oh, and I like a pocket and a towel on each apron (so, reversible = 2 pockets and 2 towels). It wasn't so much mathy, like some sewing projects are, but it was definitely a thinking-several-steps-ahead kind of sewing project. I thought, "I'm making it, so I might as well make it just the way I want it." Isn't that one of the reasons we sew?

I was going to create a tutorial but decided against it because, really, who wants to make a chef's reversible apron with a stretchy neckband and a pocket and towel on each side? So I'll just show you a few highlights and lowlights.

I used almost all of the fabric. Here's what's left (and the brown fabric was not part of the original group):

I have an apron that a) fits me, b) I will use a lot, and 3) is reversible so I won't have to launder it every time I wear it (I already shared that I am messy), and d) is pretty.

I figured almost everything out enough ahead of time, so my brain cells were on high activity, part of my brain-maintenance program. Examples: I gathered the towel at the top. I pinned the towel toward the inside so it wouldn't be stitched into the side seams. I stitched both waistbands (one for each side of the apron) on at the same time to minimize the likelihood of some very crooked stitching. I positioned the pockets, which I made to fit the iPhone I will buy one of these days, and the towels for my lefthanded self.

My corners are inconsistent. I know that this is just an apron, so it's okay for this project. However, I really want to improve my corners. Here's what I do: I stitch, turn the fabric 90 degrees, continue stitching. (Sometimes I stop 1 stitch short of the corner, turn the fabric 45 degrees, take 1 or 2 stitches, turn the fabric 45 degrees, and continue. I see no difference in the resulting corner.) Press the stitched fabric flat. Trim the corner (maybe not close enough?). Press the seams open, if possible. Turn, using a large knitting needle (so, blunt tip) to push out the corner. Sometimes the result is excellent and other times, it's mediocre. I want consistently excellent corners! I welcome your thoughts, links to tutorials/instructions.
See? The 2 top corners are good, the 2 bottom corners are not.

I thought I was finished, so I put it on and asked my personal photographer to take some photos. The camera does not lie. It confirmed a thought that was floating in my mind: the top front sides seem weird (click on the photo to see what I'm referring to):
reverse side of apron
I know how this happened. Because my fabric wasn't wide enough, I thought that this would work:
Um, no, actually, it created sort of flaps. No chef's apron has flaps. If I wanted flaps, I'd have kept them. But I could see how they would get in my way. So I did a bit of trimming and restitching and topstitching.

For the next one, I would reshape the pattern piece for the bodice and also make the bodice a bit shorter. I think I'll go draw a new bodice piece right now, before I forget. Because I will happily make more aprons like this one!

And now, what to do with that last piece of autumn leaves print?
It's only the print fabric I am determined to use up; the others can be incorporated into other projects. Here are my ideas:
  • Make 3 dark blue/teal linen towels trimmed with the print border, similar to others I've made, shown (with a tutorial) here
  • Make 9 coasters, the idea of which makes me wonder whether they'd keep dampness from the table surface, plus I don't have a use for them
  • Make another table mat by cutting the strip into three sections and piecing them so that it might look (remotely) like a 9-patch quilt block
Any other ideas?

Blessings and peace...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Giveaway Results and Update on Autumn Leaves Fabric

Good morning! Here's the result (of using, which generates random numbers from the range you submit) for my orange print fat quarter fabric giveaway contest. I disregarded all the even numbers (my comments) and Joy, who requested to not be entered. Here are the winners:
Betsy B, I hope you will make this little project. If you do, will you please let me know? And maybe send me a photo or two of the process and/or result? Actually, I'd like it if you would videotape it and put the video up on YouTube; it would be an instant hit, I am sure!

Quilting Tangent, who liked two of the fabrics in particular. I'll do my best to select one of those for you, QT.

Angie, I am positive that your crafty 11 year old could do this -- and with some help from younger ones, too.

Emily, you have some (not quite so little) little helpers that you can include in this project.

Congratulations! I hope you will use the free tutorial to make this easy project. If you do, will you please let me know? And maybe send me a photo or two of the process and/or result?

Thanks; this was fun! And even if you didn't win a fat quarter, you can still use the free tutorial to make one (or more) of these pumpkins.

Update about my autumn leaves fabrics
I completed another table mat. It's for a friend who has a birthday next month, and her table is quite a bit larger than mine. I had that in mind when I made this one.

And I'm now making a reversible apron with these remaining pieces (and adding in some leftover linen fabric from another sewing project):

What are you sewing this weekend?

Blessings and peace...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fabric Pumpkins: Easy No-Sew Craft Project and a Giveaway

A couple of years ago, I hosted a little Craft Day for a friend, her two daughters, and their four little children. I'm not really used to doing this; most of my sewing are solo projects. However, when I saw this tutorial over at the Sew Thankful blog, I just had to invite them over so we could make these together! I knew it would be fun. (I was right.) The one I made is shown in this photo from my most recent sewing project: It's the pumpkin on the table runner. 

The small pumpkin (the size I made) uses a fat quarter of fabric, and the large pumpkin uses 1 yard of fabric. 

Here I am demonstrating  the fabric-tucking technique.

Two cute little girls selecting "leaves" from my collection of fabric swatches.

That was easy!

And, exhausting!

Photos used with permission, of course.

Giveaway: Would you like to make one of the small pumpkins but don't have any suitable orange (or green or purple) fabric? Let me know in the comments by Thursday, October 3; I'll select a couple of names and send a fat quarter to each person selected. You see that I have more than enough! Or just leave a comment, even if you have fabric and/or if you aren't going to make one of these. My feelings won't be hurt, I promise! :) 'cuz you know how we bloggers love comments!

Blessings and peace...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Progress Report About Those Quilting Fabrics

I am happy to report that I have used the majority of the quilting fabrics that I blogged about here. And I used at least a yard of another quilting fabric as well as a yard of flannel, which I used instead of batting. For tabletop things such as placemats and table runners, I prefer a thinner, flatter finish rather than a puffy, quilt-like finish, so I use flannel fabric instead of batting. Oh, plus I came across a few (?) yards of flannel before I looked for batting.

So far I've made one short table runner and four placemats. Here are a couple of photos:
Four placemats

Two placemats and a table runner
And here is how we usually use placemats: on top of a tablecloth. (It's easier to launder placemats than tablecloths, plus as the weather cools, the tablecloth adds a bit of warmth.)
All ready for today
I'm including a few construction details for you and also to help me remember for next time.
Press and then pin the completed placemat top to flannel. Notice that the corner pins are parallel to the edge rather than at a 45 degree angle, which makes the stitching easier. Machine baste about 1/8 in. in from the edge of the placemat top.
Optional: Trim to remove flannel.
Press the pieced top, which has been basted to the flannel, to the backing fabric (brown), which is placed wrong side up. Trim. Then move the backing fabric to on top of the the pieced top and pin, marking (with two pins or a clip) the place to stop stitching, which will create the opening for turning.
From the back, you can see the 1/4 in. stitching all around, except for about 4 in. at the center of the bottom, which is the opening for turning. Clip the corners. Turn. Press. Machine quilt.
One placemat, completed. 
One table runner, completed.

I am planning to make another table runner, narrower so that it can be used with four placemats. And it looks like I will make some coasters. And maybe some trim and pockets for an apron.

I welcome any other ideas. I'm really glad I decided to use this fabric now rather than know that it will be next fall before I am motivated to use it again. It's so autumnal! 

Blessings and peace...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Must Use These Quilting Fabrics

In organizing my fabricssomething I've been wanting to do for a few months years—I came across these coordinated cotton fabrics that I bought at a very nice little quilt shop. 
1/2 yard panel
1 yard striped print (a little more than half is shown)
Top left: panel. Bottom left: striped print. Right: 1 yard each gold and green "mottled" solid.

I am not a quilter, but once in a while I go to a quilt shop with a friend who is a quilter. Of course I want these independent shops to stay in business, and I did like the look of these fabrics, but here we are at least a year later, and I still haven't done anything with them. If I don't sew them up now, it will be at least another year before I look at them againbecause of the seasonal nature of the prints.

I found a free project sheet at Fabric Depot; here's the cover:
Project sheet
As you can see from the project sheet, I don't have all the fabrics in the collection (whew!).  The project sheet is 9 pages and includes instructions for making everything you see here.

I plan to make a reversible table runner and a small (approximately 12-in. square) table topper. But I don't need any more placemats. 

Do you have any ideas or suggestions or links to easyremember easy, please—for using up this fabric? I'd like to make some gifts that people would really like and use. Maybe a set of coasters from the smaller print? Maybe an easy apron? Any other ideas?

Bonus points / extra credit for any ideas that use these fabrics in something I could wear without looking like I'm wearing a quilt.

I'm making myself use this fabric to burn it into my brain to stop buying fabrics for quilting projects! Maybe it's not my responsibility to keep quilt shops in business.

Thanks for any and all suggestions. I will post updates. Achi dachi!

Blessings and peace...