Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Wednesday Showcase/Table Turned

Gifts come in all sorts of ways! 

Last summer I injured my back and I have suffered with it since. I initially went to a rehab facility that combines chiropractic work with exercise. Rather than get better, it got worse! My doctor suggested that I concentrate on acupuncture and massage and allow the area time to heal, which I did, but of course I skied and hiked throughout the winter. The acupuncture and massage have helped, but the pain is persistent. Some days are fairly good, and some days rather terrible, but either way, the pain is never completely gone. So I decided to see an orthopedic doctor who specializes in back pain. As it turns out, it's caused from an old injury to my spine. I fell down the stairs about 10 years ago and really hurt my back. It healed though and I thought nothing of it until the doctor told me that the pain is caused from an old injury. He feels that the correct type of rehab exercises will help to strengthen the muscles around the area and I will once again be pain free. Fingers crossed :)  

I had a rotten headache yesterday, the kind that just won't go away, and of course, I had a rehab appointment. Off I went, feeling a bit sorry for myself. While waiting for my therapist, I opened my mail, and there was a little gift.

Just a few days ago, I needed to quickly throw on something that looked halfway decent, so I pulled out this little dress that I did for a Fabulous Free Pattern Friday post, The Magic Rectangle Dress.

As I pulled it on, the thought came to me that I should make another and revisit the post as I really enjoy wearing this dress. Perfect for summer. 

The message I received was from Maria Geer of Stitch and Sew. She loves to sew and her blog is all about sharing sewing tips, new products, and continuing to build this wonderful sewing community that we all love. 

Her most recent blog post is entitled, My Top 100 Free Sewing Patterns, and low and behold...my little Magic Rectangle Dress made it as one of her 100 favorite patterns!!!! Wow, now talk about telepathy ;)

I have gone through her list and it's wonderful. There are patterns for holidays, cute pieces to make for children, toys, quilts, bags, clothing for women, just so much!

Here are a few of my favorites;

Love this super cute whale. Great for a baby shower.

Such a fun hat for summer or winter.

Summer perfect dresses for big girls and little girls.

A fun faux fur vest for when cooler temps roll around once again.

A great carry-all bag with a secure closure. 

We can never have enough cute tees for summer.

Now this is just a small sample of the patterns that Maria has shared, so pop over, check out her POST. I think you'll find lots of fun ideas.

And a special thank you to Maria for featuring one of my pieces. Such a wonderful surprise!!!

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Morning Inspiration/A Soldier's Story

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States, a day to remember those who have fought for our country. It's a gorgeous day here in Chicago, and I will most likely spend most of my day outside. 

Rather than my typical Monday morning inspiration piece, I thought I would re-share a piece I wrote in 2011. If you have followed the blog for some time, you may have read it, but for some, it will be new.

As you read this piece, I hope that it will inspire you to reflect on your own loved ones who have perished, be it in a war, or any other senseless act of violence.  

Alfred Youngblood

A faded picture from so long ago. On the left is my grandfather, Alfred Youngblood, and beside him a man who sadly no longer has a name. Two young men in their early twenties transported to a country that until then, only existed in a school book. Standing on a street somewhere in France, their uniforms dirty and tattered, the picture captures their image, but not their thoughts. World War I, the war to end all wars, but now we know that it was just the warm up for future wars.

One of my most precious possessions, a postcard that my grandfather sent to my grandmother. Although it's old and faded, it's still so beautiful. The embroidered flap opens and inside is a small card. The postcard was my grandfather's Christmas present to my grandmother that year. On the back of the card he wrote the date, December 3,1918, "To Elvera, From a Soldier Friend." At this time, they had not married.

His short note on the back of the postcard gives a hint of what he must have been feeling. He talks about being cold, he says that he wishes he could be with her at Christmas, but uses the words "I fear not." Cold, lonely and afraid, he then says that he has nothing to say. Hell was bursting around him, but there was "nothing to say." The note ends with, " Be nice and think of S.B.B." I have no idea what this means, maybe a secret that they shared together and now will remain theirs alone.

The war took it's toll on Alfred. He came home and married Elvera but it wasn't long until alcohol became his friend. He always worked, and worked hard, provided a home and almost all that his family needed, but he could not give the gift of himself. As the years continued on, he became an angry old man.

I always adored my grandparents. All my mother had to say was, "I'm taking you to your grandmother's house," and I would be at the car and ready to go. 

One day when I was just about four, she dropped me off for the afternoon. When we arrived, my grandparents were standing in the back at the end of the driveway. I jumped out of the car and ran toward them with the energy of a race horse. Their driveway was covered in crushed oyster shells. I tripped and went flying. As I rolled over, the first thing I saw was that the palm of my hand had completely peeled open. I sat there horrified looking at the inside of  my hand. My grandparents ran to me. Alfred said nothing but immediately picked me up and ran with me into the house. He took me into the bathroom, sat me down on the toilet and began taking things from the medicine cabinet. My grandmother held my hand, palm side up while my grandfather meticulously picked the shells from my knees. He then stood me up, took me to the sink and began to work on my hand. My knees ached, but all I wanted to do was look at my hand. Alfred told my grandmother to hold my head as he picked the shells from my palm and then I remember screaming as he poured iodine into the fresh wound. The skin was carefully folded back in place and my hand bandaged. Every day or so, my mother would bring me back and my grandfather would remove the bandages and redress the wound. I remember being amazed as I watched my hand heal. Today all that is left is a small, comma shaped scar.  

Many years later, I was working as a costume designer. For 
this particular show, I needed military pieces. While rummaging through a military surplus store, I came across a box full of the leg wraps that soldiers wore during WWI. There was one, completely blood soaked. I picked it up with my left hand and when I did, I saw the scar in my palm. At that moment, I was so overcome with emotion that all I could do was sit down on the floor. As I looked at the blood soaked legging, my memory immediately flashed back to the day I fell, and in that moment I knew that when grandfather picked me up and rushed me into the house, this was not the first time that he had seen skin pulled away from the body. His expertise in helping me heal had more than likely come at the expense of another's life.

Before he died, I tried to get my grandfather to talk about his experience during the war. He refused. Rather than speak, he would sit in his rocking chair and sing a song. Sadly, I didn't listen to the words of the song as I thought he was just trying to avoid talking to me. He was. But, had I listened, I think I may have learned something about his experience, and maybe even the soldier that he tried to save. Now I will never know. 

Alfred Youngblood grew up on a farm in east Texas, went to war, came home, married, and continued to fight that war in his mind. 

I once read that the soldiers of WWI refused to come home and talk about the war as they wanted to leave it there, where it was. Regardless of their desire, the war came home, tucked inside their minds. There was no help for them. They were expected to just go on with their lives.  

The dictionary describes a comma as a pause, a separation. My grandfather and I were never as close as I would have liked to have been, nor as close as I now believe he also would have liked. But, we are connected, by a small comma shaped scar that I carry in the palm of my hand. A comma that reminds me to pause, to remember, to have compassion, and to respect a man who did the best that he could.  

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Night Refelctions

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sew Now Magazine and Free Patterns!

Earlier this past week, I attended a luncheon with my husband, and had such a nice time. The woman who waited on us was such a hoot!!! I watched as she diligently worked to serve us, and when she placed my soup in front of me, I thanked her for working so hard to create such a lovely experience for all of us. That was all it took, we were friends :) As she bustled around, she shared her life, how she loves to go to Las Vegas, and that she would be going in August. With that she made fun of herself for going at the hottest time of the year. 

As the meal ended, she made a point of coming over to tell me how much she had enjoyed me being there. I really did nothing but just acknowledge her work. She even hugged me! So rather than just walk away, I said, "let's take a picture." She loved it :), me too!   

If I'm not mistaken, I think I saw an advertisement for Sew Now on Instagram, but I may be wrong. Anyway, what caught my attention was the promotion that they were offering. If you ordered the magazine, you would also receive a free printed pattern of the Simple Sew Cocoon Dress. So, I decided that I would take the plunge and order the magazine. It comes from England, so a bit more of a postage fee, but not bad.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised when the package arrived because there was not just the Cocoon dress pattern, but the Butterick pattern pictured below!!!

I was also pleasantly surprised when I thumbed through the magazine as there are a number of free downloads, the Lazy Days Top below.

A super cute pair of harem type pants. 

If you have children home for the summer, this retro kitty would make a great learn to sew project. Also a free download. Cute for an addition to a baby shower gift basket too!

Whether you have a girl or a boy, this little coverall pattern is perfect for summer wear. Cut off the legs and make shorts too!

You'll also find lots of info on new sewing patterns, along with inspiration and interesting tips. The magazine is a larger magazine, so easier to read and handle. The photography is well done, and the pages are nice and thick, not at all flimsy.  

At this point, I am not subscribing, but I will be paying attention to what's offered in upcoming issues.  So, check it out, I think you too might enjoy the magazine.

It's a glorious day here in Chicago. My peonies have burst open, and I have a lilac bush that is so incredibly fragrant this year. My garden is a very happy place to be right now. So I am off to set out some plants, and create a few containers of flowers. Here's a little glimpse of my peonies. I took the picture a few days ago, so they are even more beautiful now.

While talking with a friend, we figured out that this peony is probably about 60 years old. And she's still a beauty :)

Have a wonderful day!

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Wednesday Showcase

What a week it has been...so far! My entire day on Tuesday was spent seeing doctors, ugh! But, all good. The stitches are out of my back, YEA!!! 

I had intended to come home yesterday afternoon and get this post out, but obviously, it didn't happen. So although it's no longer Wednesday, I know how much many of you enjoy the Wednesday Showcase posts, so I thought that rather than wait another week, I would just be a day late :)

First up this week is Samina of Sew Everything Blog. She says that she is always sewing! Her work has been featured in Threads magazine, Vogue Patterns magazine, Stitch magazine, and she has even made the cover of Notions, the American Sewing Guild publication. So I agree, she is ALWAYS sewing!!!

Many of you have probably made up this Vogue pattern for pants, Vogue 1411. It's actually a Sandra Betzina pattern.

Well, Samina absolutely loves it and has made it many times. Just scroll through her blog and you'll see a number of versions. I think this is not only a great go to pattern, it's perfect for traveling.

I absolutely fell in love with this little jacket. Samina took a vintage pattern and gave it such a modern look. The topstitching, the lining, the bound edges, simply perfection!

I loved THIS tutorial she did on padded hangers, a true necessity. After all,we spend so much time making fabulous garments, they deserve to be treated in a special manner.

You'll find lots of great information on Samina's blog, so be sure to pop over and take a little time to discover all she shares.

Next up is Julie of Sew Chica Sew. She lives in New York and loves to make and wear beautiful clothes. 

I thought this was just such a sweet look for summer. The matching hat is the perfect accessory!

Julie loves to wear dresses and she uses prints that are just such fun, like this lemon print.

The dress she is wearing below is made from a cotton that she found online at Joann's Fabrics. The print has reproductions of the Mexican card game, Loteria. She paired it with a purchased fascinator, and those killer shoes. Not only does she have an incredibly beautiful wardrobe, her shoe collection is to die for!!!

So many have been making up this beautiful top pattern. Love it paired with this skirt. This is truly a "watch me as I walk away" kind of a top. She took scraps from the skirt and made this cute little cropped top giving the skirt a totally different look.

Just a short scroll through Julie's blog and I think you will be so inspired!

Well, I am off to the dentist, not happy :( But, the rest of the day is mine!!!, and it's going to be spent in my studio. So always a silver lining :)

Have a wonderful day!

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sewbussted's Material Witness and The Mahogany Stylist

Once I decided to go after my dream of doing video interviews, I quickly realized that there is a wealth of amazing talent right here in Chicago. 

If you don't know The Mahogany Stylist, and even if you do, I think you will enjoy getting to know her beyond the pictures. She's a wonderfully talented woman who loves to share her passion of sewing.

Her style ranges from classic and refined, 

To hip and fun!

My goal in doing the video was to give you a dual format, you actually get to experience the essence of who the person is by seeing them speak, but you may also just listen. After I did the interview, I played it back while I was driving home. Don't worry, I didn't watch!!!, I just listened. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed just listening. So, if you have time to watch, great, but if not, just put it on while you are sewing and enjoy the conversation.  

Cennetta has been blogging for quite some time so I thought you would enjoy hearing about her journey, and if you are contemplating a new blog, I also thought her story would be quite inspiring. Enjoy!

Be sure to check out Cennetta's blog, The Mahogany Stylist. I know you'll be inspired by all she does.

A little side note about our flight, it didn't happen. As I was checking the engine prior to take-off, I heard something that concerned me, and I saw that there was a slight negative charge on the amp meter. Since I've experienced an electrical failure in the past, I know the signs and I opted to cancel the flight. Disappointing, but as I told Cennetta, we live to see another day :)

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thrifty Thursday Ideas

I had such a lovely day yesterday. So many took the time to congratulate me on a great presidency with the American Opera Society of Chicago, and voiced that they were sad to see me step down. Really nice. Good for the soul :) 

Some asked what I would do now. I love the movie Working Girl and I jokingly used a line from the movie, "Oh, I think I'll redecorate the country house, go to Europe for a while ;)" What I'll actually be doing is continuing to talk to all of you through the blog on a regular basis, continue working on the new Sewbussted interview series (BTW, a new one will be up tomorrow!!!), working in my garden, and a couple of other things that I'm just not ready to talk about. 

Change is good as it allows us to take a new direction. One of my projects requires a considerable amount of research and reading, which I'm loving, but it takes time. So, I'm happy to have my mind a little freer in the months to come :).  

Now that warmer weather has finally hit Chicago, I'm wanting some fresh new pieces for spring/summer wear. What I REALLY need are some new pajamas. I received the new issue of Sew News recently and they have a simple, but cute pair in the issue and even better, it's a free download!

The pajamas are intended to be made from a woven fabric. They recommend crepe de chine, but any light weight woven would be fine. I have not made up the pattern yet, so I can't vouch for the drafting or fit, but with something so simple,  especially drawstring pants and an easy tank, I think you'll be safe to give it a try. I've downloaded the pattern, so I should have it made up soon. You can find the FREE PATTERN HERE

This must be a stripe kind of a week for me! Another super cute pattern that is a free download in the current issue of Sew News is this linen striped top.

I really like the front yoke and the interest that is added with the stripes. This pattern could easily be lengthened and made into an easy to wear summer shift dress. 

The instructions in the magazine are quite detailed, so if you've never ventured into the stripe world, you'll be sure to have a successful garment. You can find the FREE PATTERN DOWNLOAD HERE. If you think you would like to have 1 or both of the patterns, be sure to download them now as they will no longer be free after July 31, 2017!

A few days ago, Sewingelle of He Cooks...She Sews posted this sweet picture of she and her daughter on Mother's Day. I think her daughter is one of the luckiest girls in the entire world as her mom makes the most fabulous wardrobe for her.

Sewingelle commented that since the dress is black, it's a little difficult to see the style lines, but she likes it so much that she intends to make another for herself. 

Now, here's the good news!!!

The exact same pattern is on the cover of the current issue of Sew News, and..... 

You can get the pattern for 20% off when you enter the code, PocketDress20 at checkout, WOOHOO!!!

You can find the pattern HERE at BurdaStyle. 

This dress was made in a scuba knit, so it gives the dress a different look from the soft stretch velvet that Sewingelle used for her daughter's dress.  

Free patterns and a discount, I think that makes for a pretty good day!

Have a great one!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Wednesday Showcase

Today will mark the end of a very special time of my life. For the past 6 years, I have been the president of the American Opera Society of Chicago. I remember running up the stairs to my very first board meeting as president. As my shoes hit each stair, the thoughts in my head seemed to get louder and louder telling me that this was far more than I was capable of. But I continued to climb and head toward my fear. 

In the over 90 year history of the organization, I am the first to serve for 6 years. There have been wonderful moments, and events have happened to cause me to lose sleep, many nights sleep at that. But, I persevered. I learned to gracefully deal with some very strong women, and I learned when it was best to just be quiet. I have learned that it is important to run towards what scares you because in the end, not only will you be stronger and wiser, but you will also learn that you are capable of so more than you could imagine when you began.  

For today's Wednesday Showcase, I would like to introduce you to someone new, and reintroduce you to a couple of fabulous ladies that we met some time ago.

First, our new introduction is Annette from a Sewful Life. What a fun and lovely lady! She believes in the power of making, the joy it brings us and the restorative power it can have in our lives. Annette began sewing at the age of 3, and could not imagine her life without this wonderful creative outlet.

As I scrolled through her blog, I especially liked how she plans out her projects. She purchased a Curvy Sketchbook from Cashmerette and she actually uses it!!!

Absolutely love the shark teeth picture!!! Annette went to Hawaii and took along her easy to wear Me Made Wardrobe.

Look who this is with Annette...Rhonda Pierce!!! Annette lives near Seattle so it's easy for her to get to the expo in Puyallup. She and Rhonda modeled the hats for one of the many fashion shows that you will find there.

Annette is helping to lead a sew and serve group at her church. They make baby blankets for a local mission center. You can read all about what they are doing and find more opportunities on her post HERE.

Annette is very new to the blogging world, she just began this past March, so be sure to pop over and give her a very warm welcome!

There's a very talented lady who sews beautifully and lives in France. Her name is Jacqueline and sadly, she no longer blogs. But, I just had to share one of her newest makes. She made this raincoat out of a plastic tablecloth. So cute and what a fun idea! 

Jacqueline is part of a great group of ladies on Facebook, La Couture & Ses Blogs. You might like to check them out :)

I showcased Pauline of Sew You Think You Can Knock Off some time ago. She loves to recreate designer garments, and does so beautifully. She also loves stripes.

On Monday, I posted this picture of a beautifully mitered striped dress,

Here's Pauline's real life version. Simply fabulous!!! You can read her post HERE.

Another fun stripe make.

Love the use of the vertical and horizontal stripes.

You will also find Pauline on Instagram. Be sure to check her out as I know you'll be inspired!

Have a wonderful day!

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday Morning Inspiration/Spring Stripes

Happy Monday Everyone!!!

Did ya miss me?...naaaa ;)
I've been missing in action for about 10 days. Just a lot on my plate, so I decided to be good to myself and just not put too much pressure on myself. What pushed me over the edge was a phone call from my dermatologist. He had taken a sample for a biopsy. When he called with the results, he said that it wasn't good and that he had scheduled me for surgery. While I feel that he is an excellent doctor, his bedside manner can be a little lacking, and as it turns out, it really wasn't so grim. I have an incision with 16 stitches on my right shoulder blade. Initially it was quite painful, not only the incision, but due to where it is, I feel every movement of my arm. But it's much better now. And even better, the sun is shining and we're expecting temps in the 80s, so a great day is ahead!

Do you ever get an idea about something you would like to eat, and then can't get it off your mind until you put the first bite in your mouth? I do, and I'm the same way about something I would like to wear. A little over a week ago, I purchased a pair of black and white striped shoes. I think I need to see about getting another pair as I have worn them at least 3 times in the last week and a half, and I'm wearing them today! Now I want a pair of easy black and white striped pants. Just something floaty and easy to wear. I have a piece of  black and white striped poly, so the pants will soon be in my wardrobe...like...today! 

As you can see, at the moment I am obsessed with stripes. For me, stripes scream spring/summer, and I am ready for the freshness of the season. So here's a few fun pieces that I found and thought you might like too! 

This is just a simple a-line dress with raglan sleeves made interesting with the manipulation of the stripes. 

This dress is eye catching due to the large stripes, but also because of the small stripes in the yoke. Take note that the neckline, armholes and hem are finished with a simple black binding.

The mitered waistline on this little dress is amazing!

 A simple dress that could be recreated with some mitering.

Love this breezy dress. It's been made all the more dramatic with the bias neckline binding and the horizontal stripe around the hem.

A simple black and white bordered scarf  would make this dramatic, but super easy dress.

Adding a pop of color grounds the stripes.

While this is not a stripe, it feels like a stripe. A simple piece of black trim was sewn on top of the princessline seam, and then accented with a second piece of trim. So pretty.

Again, not a traditional stripe, but fun color blocking.

This is just so pretty. 

And a few fun ideas for tops.

I thought I would leave you with this today...

Wishing you a wonderful week!

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