Thursday, July 31, 2008

Time for the Fair...

It is summertime; lazy days, watermelon, vacation, sunny days and the State Fair. I have been busy finishing my items to submit to the state fair as well as gathering previously finished items to prepare to take them. I have five items this year. I am a city girl through and through so my attendance at any fair is limited. I have been lucky enough to have been to a few old fashioned movie worthy country fairs. With row and row of jams and jellies displayed like jewels,

gorgeous quilts hanging over a clothesline and of course children with their livestock entries.

It seems straight out of a children's story book to this city girl.

Here in Missouri there are two chapters of the Smocking Arts Guild of America. One of those chapters was instrumental in getting a smocking category reinstated at our state fair. The category has grown and grown in the five years since it has been reinstated. That is wonderful. Another way to make sure that an art that I love is continued. I was even blessed 3 years ago to win Best of Show in the smocking division. It was very exciting. And even more exciting for me, it was for my favorite type of project, a christening gown. Not sure how I think this year's entries will do, but I am anxious to find out.

My love affair with a seam ripper continues, but I was able to fix the back armhole curve on my dress. I think this one will work better don't you? It is hanging to dry now. I will have pictures of it tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

So who is your best friend?

Mine seems to be a seam ripper. Or reverse sewing tool, unpicker, or another term according to Wikipedia threader-er remover. Shoot, it seems almost more difficult to say than to use. But I am very adept with a seam ripper. And this little dress seems to have chosen to be my muse in learning all ways to use it. Have you ever just had that project that no matter what you did, it seemed you needed to do it two or three times?

Notice anything missing in this picture? I tried several times to pin the sides but for some reason I couldn't quite figure out how or where to start pinning to do the French seams for the sides. It was later in the evening and I will admit I was not in peak form. After trying and looking at it for several minutes I realized what was missing...

a back armhole curve! I was so intent on getting the back skirt gathered onto the yoke I forgot to cut out the armhole curve. That is sure going to make it tough to set in a sleeve. I picked up my seam ripper once again when I realized one of my cardinal rules; "When you have to start ripping late at night, it is time to call it a night!" And this is what I did. So this morning I am off to take off the skirt, cut the curve, regather and restitch. And wouldn't you know, this would be one of those times that the skirt went on without a hitch, my gathers were nice and even and no "caught" gathers. *&^%!

One reminder that maybe you haven't thought of, notice too that the fabric has frayed, this poly cotton twill has done that a good bit. When I get ready to sew my seam, I will use the edge of the fray as my raw edge. In the past I didn't like those frayed edges and would trim it off, only then to wonder why did the pieces did not fit together properly or the garment not fit. That edge is your original cut edge. If both of the pieces I sew together had frayed that way and I trimmed them, that could possibly be 1/8" off both pieces resulting in 1/4" off that seam and a total of 1/2" across the width, in this case, of the bodice. It all adds up. On this garment it might not be that detrimental, but if you were talking about a straight sleeve that was a slimmer fit, you would have a sleeve that was too tight and a garment that was not at all comfortable. So to avoid that, handle your cut pieces as little as possible, trim your threads but not the cut edge and match up the original cut edges.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A thought...

Silence is not the absence of sound,

it is the absence of self.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What are you reading?

I just finished a book by Paul Coutinho, SJ. "How Big Is Your God?" Fr. Paul Coutinho seems to almost have a cult following, he certainly has a fan club. :) He is a wonderful speaker and excerpts from one his talks that are included in this book can be seen on YouTube. Is there anything you can't see on YouTube anymore? I really enjoyed this book, it is an easy read. If you have ever seen or heard Paul Countinho in person you can certainly "hear" him in his book. I can hear the distinct way he says the word "Jesuit" every time I read it. He challenges you but in a gentle way to look outside of your traditional ways of looking at God and your relationship with Him. If you get a chance to attend one of his talks, do. If not read this quick book which also has a short DVD enclosed. A short excerpt from his chapter titled "Do you React or Respond to Life?"

...Situations in themselves do not produce feelings. It is our perception of the situation that makes us feel good or bad. Just as situations cannot make us happy or sad, another person cannot make us feel happy or sad. We choose to be happy or sad. If we seek greater freedom in our lives, we need to be objective and rational about the power of our beliefs versus the power of situations. We control our emotions. When we live in freedom, we choose the way we respond rather than let our automatic destructive reactions get the better of us.

Now you might ask, "Okay, but how do I do this? How do I choose to respond when I am under pressure, when I have been taught to fear or fight, when the situation seems 'bad' to me?" The "PQR formula" can help us live freely in stressful, anxious, or depressing situations. We pause to question how we would like to respond rather than react and live to regret our negative reaction. Let me try to explain what I mean by react: You push; I shove. Without thinking, I shove. This is my reaction. It is immediate and disconnected from my higher Self, the constant "I," and the meaning of my life. My reaction is an imprisoned effect. This is not freedom. By applying the PQR formula, however, I can respond. I pause (find myself in the situation), question (How does this situation relate to the meaning of my life? How do I wish to respond given a world of infinite possibilities?), and then respond (a freely chosen action -- not a reaction). Responding rather than reacting helps us live freely and in greater harmony with our true identity in every situation. It helps us grab hold of the freedom we seek in order to enter into the river of divine life.

Next on the night stand is:

And lest you think that I only read Jesuit authors, over the weekend I read,

a quick mindless entertaining book.

Haven't sewn in a couple days, but I am headed up to the sewing room now. Had breakfast with a friend this morning. I hadn't seen her since I had come home from retreat so we spent a leisurely two hours chatting over breakfast about retreat and what we are stitching on. You know I have to show that pink linen daygown to anyone that will look at it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

When do we leave?

How exciting! I must be "official"; I have a passport. Now I know for the masses this would be no big deal, but I am excited. Its kind of like when you were a kid and you couldn't wait to check out the new phone book to see if you were in it. (I know I am a simple person.) I have never been outside the country, except for one Saturday spent driving to Lethbridge, Alberta Canada when we were stationed in Montana. It looked no different than Great Falls. I was disappointed. While our children were growing up we never had the money or time to travel. We were too busy raising a young family and eating peanut butter to send them to Catholic schools and then college. We have no plans yet except to make plans. Plus my husband is self employed and has considered accepting an overseas contract. Now we are set, I can go too.

Where would I like to go? Europe tops my list. Australia is next, then Japan. I will go just about anywhere really, just to say I have been. We all have regrets in life and one of mine is that while our best friends were stationed in Germany that we didn't go to Europe while they were there. I didn't want to go without the kids and we couldn't afford for all of us to go. We had 2 in college and 2 in high school at the time. That is 4 tuitions to pay, so I was stubborn and wouldn't go without them. In retrospect now seems silly. Both of those older girls went abroad for their honeymoons and had no regret over not taking their mother! I know, you're not supposed to go with them on their honeymoon, but still.

FYI, if you need a passport in a hurry this must be the time of year to do it. Ours came within a week without paying the extra rush fee. Imagine our surprise. At first I thought when my husband's came that it was because he had an expired passport. Well shabamm! Mine was in the mailbox the next day. So unless you need a guarantee of having it asap, don't pay the extra fee.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another stitchin' Saturday

Been a very busy week. Not for any specific reason, just lots of little ones. But I was able to get some stitching done. I finished the smocking on my baby dress last Saturday, (told you it would only take two movies) but it has taken the rest of the week of get the shadow work bow and bullion roses done. So today is going to be another "Stitch' Saturday" but spent at the sewing machine doing construction. I enjoy construction, but I enjoy stitching in my chair more. I have lots of things ready for construction. And that is what always stumps me.

When I get to the collar I will post pictures. Gail Doane, from Utah, teaches a great way to do peter pan collars. No stretching or pulling and you get great collars every time. I am home by myself today to I can stitch in my pajamas again if I want to. My husband nor the cat really care if I stitch in my pajamas, but sometimes you feel like you ought to get dressed if he is. So today I will be in my sewing room. And since it is supposed to HOT today, I am quite happy to be inside.

Our little cu-de sac is busy this morning, the neighbors are having a garage sale. I think I must have a gene missing, garage sales have never been a big draw for me. I can do all kinds of bargain hunting online. One of my favorite sites is (Great place for high end sheets and extra thick towels.) I don't mind the occasional estate sale but am not a big garage sale person. I have friends who have made delightful sewing, heirloom and antique finds at garage sales and I have often thought, "I should do that!" But just can't work up to much enthusiasm for it. But then I am not a very good closeout store person either. I want my store displays small, coordinated, visually spectacular and not mind boggling. I am not a "digger." Went to Filene's Basement in Boston one time with my best friend. That was enough for me. So to all of you true American bargain hunters, hunt for me!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Make it Work!"

Are you ready? Season 5 of Project Runway starts tomorrow. I am anxious to see what the newest crop of designers have in store for us this year. I also in my humble opinion hope the winner this year isn't quite so "annoying." I know Christian had lots of fans last year, I just wasn't one of them. Jillian was my favorite last year, but my favorite look at the final runway show was one that was made from what else? Vintage Lace.

It will be fun to see what this season has in store. See you on the runway.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ahhhhh, just a stitchin' Saturday

Summertime, no doubt. This is the temperature on the screened in porch under a shady tree.

After the daygown, I wanted something quick to work on. So I am smocking a basic yoke in a simple design. Perhaps an entry for the state fair. We will see. I have never smocked on winter twill before. It has great body, the pleats stand up nice and hold their shape. I got this kit from Country Bumpkin while they were having a sale. I didn't want to do any prep work. It is summer time after all, I just wanted to pick up the needle and stitch. So that is what I am doing today.

So what could be better on a lazy summer afternoon when you don't have to be anywhere or do anything? Not a lot really. So here are the elements of my afternoon, the TV remote for watching movies, my rubber duck pj's (refer back to not go anywhere or do anything comment) and my pleated skirt front. The only thing not pictured is a cold drink and perhaps some chocolate. Have to be careful on the white though. It is only a size 6 months so it may only take two movies to finish the smocking. My spirit needed quick and easy!

I hope you have something relaxing to do on this hot summer afternoon. Perhaps if a shower blows through and cools things off I will move to the screened in porch.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


It is finis! For some reason this gown began to feel like it would never be done. But it is sewn, washed and pressed and will now patiently await some precious babe to fill it. They can bring one of those on just any time. :) Just teasing. There is something I am learning in the world of mothering, that some things are out of your control and out of theirs. And it is best not razzed about too often. I know they are more impatient than I. In the meantime I will keep sewing and praying.

I did alter the sleeve a tad from Mirella's original pattern. I made them a bit more full to get more of a puff sleeve look. And the tatting. For some reason attaching that tatting was a bear. It is not like I had never attached tatting before, but I didn't seem to be able to make this tatting behave. I am not a big fan of the loops at the top, though everyone assures me it is supposed to look that way. Well not in my world. Oh well. Least of my troubles.

The pleats on the back. I love how the weave of linen shows with the backlighting from the window. The simple things in life. And as a parting shot, as if you all haven't seen this embroidery enough. One more look. Of course in this picture it looks like the drawn thread squares aren't even, but in person they are. Must have been the camera taker's angle. Really must get her to do a better job.

I am off to dream up more projects. At physical therapy today came up with three or four. Now to remember them and better yet, get them sewn. Thanks for looking. A blessed summer evening to you.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fireworks, flags and ice cream...

...can only mean one thing. Happy Fourth of July! What are your plans today? I think our include fireworks, flags and ice cream to be honest. Because of flooding here in the midwest though our usual fireworks haunt will have to be changed. But it doesn't have to change our celebration. What are your plans for the 4th?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A visit with my friends

We all visit among blogs. But one of my friends has a great blog as well as beautiful bags. I liked them so much that my daughter used her bags as bridesmaids gifts for her wedding. Her bags are roomy, well made and cute! Pam is giving away one of these great bags this week, so visit her at Sew Gracious and find out how to win one her bags from her etsy shop of sewgracious. Good luck!

Almost Done

Here are a couple of pics. I am almost finished. I was so glad to have the embroidery finished while I was on retreat, that I just had to wash it. The only thing I had to wash it with was shampoo. I wish I had taken a picture of it before. It is amazing what a bath and an iron can do for a piece.

Note that the dark spot in the lower right hand corner must be from the camera, all of the pictures I took had it on there. That is something I am finding to amazing, the number of pictures you have to take in order to get some that work for you. A friend had told me that and I didn't have the experience that it was true. If you takes lots and lots of shots you will get some that work.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I am home. Re-entry was a bit brash, as I left a week of blissful quiet the first stop in my re-entry was the Denver International Airport with 5000 of my closest friends. I would have liked to have eased into the world a bit more gently but it was not to be. My husband met me with a smile and a romantic dinner replete with flowers. Life is good.

I have touched base with all of my children, who are still puzzled by mom's ability to go away alone and spend a week not talking. Oh if they only knew how often I had wished for that when I had four children at home ages 6 and under. :) But for everything there is a season. And mom couldn't do that when they were little, but she can now.

Retreat was wonderfully relaxing, insightful, prayerful, renewing, uplifting and a great big "ahhh" in the midst of a busy world. Many don't have an experience of what going on retreat means. I went on what is called a directed retreat, you meet with a spiritual director an hour each day. Through discussion and prayer the spiritual director will for lack of a better word, "assign" a scripture, an image, a prayer, a concept to meditate and pray on through the day until the next time you meet. Through an Ignatian perspective this will evolve and develop over the days to come. So your day is spent in prayer, rest, relaxation, (I will admit to a nap or three.), walking,

stitching, reading as well as Mass (though not required) and meals. It is surprising how much more time you spend over a meal when no one is talking. And of course you still get to "people watch" And another surprise was that not only were there a lot of people there, almost 40, but there was a cross section of life and age. It wasn't all nuns or old people. There were professional people, religious, lay people, young people and everyone in between. And not all Catholic. Prayer, reflection and quiet is not an exclusive club. To my surprise there was even a very young woman there making a 30 day silent retreat and she is getting married next month. All I can say is her mother is a saint!

I did slip in some stitching while there and the embroidery on my pink linen day gown is done and I am getting ready to construct it. That is also exciting. "Film at 11!"

So all in all if you get the chance to retreat I highly recommend it.
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