Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

While cleaning my attic, I came across this piece that I wrote a number of years ago for Mother's Day. I know that it's a little late for Mother's Day, but I hope that if anyone is struggling, my little story might help you find peace. 

A while back, I had the opportunity to wander the back roads of East Texas. As I drove along, I realized that I was driving the exact same red dirt roads that my great-great-grandmother traveled in 1896 when she moved her family from Florida to Texas. She had recently lost her husband, had very little money, but heard that land was available in Texas. So, she packed her wagon, tied the cow to the back, hitched up her horses, and she and her 4 children began their journey.

A few years later, her daughter, Fannie Anderson married Mr. Youngblood. He had lost his wife and was left with 5 young children. Fannie took on the task of raising those children and went on to have 8 of her own, one of which was my grandmother. Her home was quite simple, but all were welcome, and it was always full of people and laughter.

As a child, I would be so delighted when I knew that we would be going to the country. The bedrooms of my great-grandmother's house were not heated. In fact, I can remember icicles hanging in the corners of the room on cold winter nights. But, this didn't bother me! The mattresses were made of feathers, plucked from my great-grandmother's geese. When it was time for bed, my father would throw me into the air, and I would squeal with glee as I landed in what seemed like the perfect cloud. As I drifted off to sleep, I felt safe, nestled between my parents and covered with piles of my great-grandmother's handmade quilts.

In the morning, I would awaken to the sound of her stoking a big wood stove that sat in the corner of her kitchen. I would carefully crawl out of the bed, pull on my shoes, grab a jacket, and head out to help her gather eggs. Breakfast was never just breakfast, but a feast! Her biscuits were the size of saucers, and literally melted in your mouth.

On Sundays, we were off to church. In my memory, Sundays in the country were always sunny. We would sing about heaven's streets of gold, and of how we would one day be reunited with all those we loved. My great-grandmother had an intense love for the Lord. I can remember tears welling in her eyes as she sang. She made me want to know that same passion.

I never knew my grandmother. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1940 when my mother was only 5 months old. Her name was Lilly, and she was as beautiful as the Easter flower whose name she bore. Realizing that she would not be able to care for a baby while she underwent treatment, she entrusted my mother to her sister-in-law, and best friend, Elvera. Lilly was an extremely brave and courageous woman, choosing experimental measures in the hope that her life would be saved. The night before she died, Lilly called Elvera and asked her to dress my mother in a dusty rose outfit that Elvera had made for her. She also asked if by chance she had any of my great-grandmother's homemade sausage. She did. So Elvera fried the sausage, made biscuits, dressed my mother and made her way to the hospital. Lilly told Elvera that she was tired , and could no longer fight. She asked Elvera to take my mother and raise her as her own. Elvera left the hospital that night with this precious, sleeping child in her arms. She had not been able to have children of her own. She looked down at the sleeping child grateful, and yet heartbroken that her dream came at such a great cost.

Many years later, at about the age of 4, while sitting at Elvera's white enameled-topped kitchen table, I told her that I could not wait to have grandchildren of my own. Thinking that I did not understand, she explained that I would have to have children first. I told her that I understood, and then said, " I just can't wait to have someone love me as much as I love you." Lilly had chosen well. 

My mother continued the legacy of brave and courageous women. In 1969 we lived in rural Mississippi where my father was the pastor of a small country church. The schools, and the town for that matter were still segregated. The federal government finally stepped in and forced the the schools to integrate. The white community quickly rallied to build a so called "private school." The church told my parents that they would pay for my brother and me to attend. My mother said, "No! I will not teach my children to fear or hate others." Years later, my mother told me that when the first day of school rolled around, she so hoped that she had made the right decision. She did, and I will forever be grateful for the experience and the lesson that I learned.

I always assumed that I would one day have a family of my own. Years of struggling to have a child, to no avail brought me to a point that I questioned my own existence. My heartbreak lead me to talk to the priest at our church. He told me that I have the heart of a mother, but it was up to me to figure out how this should happen. Some weeks later, I came across a small ad in our neighborhood newsletter, asking for people to consider hosting foreign exchange students. After a lot of thought, I told my husband that I didn't need to have a baby, I just needed to feel that I had made a difference in a child's life. He liked the idea of hosting foreign students. That first year we went from having no children to having 2 teenagers, a girl from Spain, and a boy from Germany. We went on to host 11 more students, 13 in total.

The year that we hosted our first students, I decided to learn to fly. In the years that have followed, I have had some of the most amazing opportunities. I joined a group that partnered with the Chicago chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, and through this organization, I have flown and introduced over 350 children to aviation. Most of these children have been from Chicago's poorest neighborhoods.

I have wondered why, why didn't I have the opportunity of having my own family? One day, through tears I prayed and said, "Lord, I only asked for 1 child, but you gave me none." As quickly as I said this, I heard in my soul, "yes, but I have trusted with hundreds." At that moment I realized that I have been a mother to so many, not a traditional mother, but still a mother. I've loved, I've taught, I've disciplined, and I've protected. By letting go of how I thought my life should be, and allowing God's dream for my life to to take place, I have experienced a life that I could not have imagined.         

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Collar Drafting Tutorials

A few weeks ago, I taught a class on drafting collars. I had such a wonderful time. It's always nice to see faces light up and realize that a basic pattern can be changed so easily. But, I realized that I have not made it easy to find the tutorials. At the moment, I am having a difficult time trying to find how to add a new tab to the navigation bar, but it is coming, hopefully, later today. In the meantime, here are the collars with links to the tutorials. Tomorrow I will be adding a tutorial on how to draft a hood. Then on Thursday, I will do the full drafting tutorial of the jacket I made HERE. 

The Mandarin Collar is a wonderful collar that can easily be drafted. It's a great collar that adds a little interest to the neck. You can find the tutorial HERE

The collar below is the Revere Collar. A very easy collar to draft. It looks a little more complicated as I added the bias trim around the collar and down the front of the blouse. You can find the tutorial for this collar HERE

The Peter Pan Collar. In the post that I did yesterday, the free Mary Quant dress pattern had 2 variations of the Peter Pan collar, one with a rounded edge, the other with a point. Both drafted the exact same way. You can find the tutorial on drafting the Peter Pan Collar HERE

The Sailor Collar is such a great collar for summer. It looks great on a dress, a tunic top, as well as a hoodie. You can find the tutorial HERE

I did 2 versions of the Shawl Collar. The collar below is the narrow version. The narrowness of the collar has nothing to do with how big the collar is in front, but how it lays on the back neck. Below is the Narrow Shawl Collar. You can find the tutorial HERE.  

Below is the wide version of the Shawl Collar. You can find this tutorial HERE.

Here's a picture of me in the dress. I absolutely love wearing this dress in the summer. Just throw it on and go!

The Raised Neckline. While this is not a traditional collar, it gives the appearance of a collar. Very dramatic, and quite lovely. You can find the tutorial HERE. This is by far one of my favorite necklines.

As soon as I can figure out how to add the new tab to the header bar at the top of the blog page, the tutorials will be all the easier to find. Technology :/

By the way, if by chance you do download the Mary Quant dress, any of these collars can be applied to that pattern. So play around and have some fun!

I am off to take Mr. Berkley for his initiation visit for daycare. He really doesn't need actual daycare, but I am doing it because he is such a social boy and I think he will have a blast playing with the other dogs. Gracie is at a point in her life that she would rather be left alone :( I'll try to take a few pictures and share with you. 

Cute story;
My husband thought that Berkley was going to daycare yesterday. He came home, found Berkley here, and I was gone. He told me that he asked Berkley, "why are you here? Did you get kicked out of daycare?" :) Hopefully all will go well.

Thanks for stopping by!


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Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Few Fashion Show Pics

I'm so excited!!! We're supposed to have our first truly warm day here in Chicago, 77 degrees. Rain is in the forecast...again :/ Oh well, the blooming trees, tulips, and daffodils have all been spectacular.

I met a friend for lunch yesterday. She took a few pictures of some of my pieces that I had in the annual Haute Couture Club of Chicago fashion show. Our professional pictures have not yet come back, so until then, I thought I would share my friend's pictures just to give you an idea of the day. More will come :)

This is the Style Arc Grace Trans-Seasonal Jacket that I shared with you HERE. I wore the jacket with my Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans. The bag is my Poppins Bag. I also made a coordinating umbrella. 

I made an umbrella last year, and loved how it turned out. You can see that post HERE. Now that I have a new bag, I thought a matching umbrella would be nice too. 

I lined the umbrella with a remnant that picked up all the colors in the bag.

I made this jacket some time ago. It is the Sewaholic Robson Coat. The coat was made for the Sews News sew along. You can see all of those posts HERE. I had not finished putting in the buttonholes, and the jacket had languished in the closet for all this time. So, I decided to get it out, finish it, and put it in the show. I have since worn it 3 times!!!  

This dress was made last December. It's the Pattern Union Sumekko Dress. I blogged about it HERE. Absolutely love this pattern. It only has 1 seam!!! The pattern comes with 3 different stencils that you can then use to paint on your fabric. I have that on my list for this summer.

Once the professional pictures have been made available, I'll share my complete collection of garments that I had in the show. If by chance you would like to attend the show, it's always the 1st Sunday of  May, so mark your calendars for next year!

Having a closet of wonderful me made outfits is just the best! :)
Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Sunday, May 12, 2019

Thursday, May 9, 2019

One Nice Thing A Day/Week 4 Recap

The last few weeks have been a true reminder to me as to why we need to make time to do a little something for ourselves...each and everyday. Last week, I was busy getting ready for the Haute Couture fashion show, along with all the other daily necessities that always need attention, and I completely neglected to post my final week of my One Nice Thing a Day Challenge. While I neglected the post, and myself last week, happily, I have made up for it this week :) 

I came across this quote that I thought would be a nice way to close out this time of sharing;

So, what did I do during my last week of the challenge???

*I took myself out to my favorite little restaurant, Lula's for lunch and had their wonderful Grain Bowl. If by chance you are ever in Chicago, by all means, go to Lula's! Fabulous food, and you just might find me there too :)  

I adore African violets. I picked up 3 and made a little arrangement. They have continued to delight me with blooms.

*There's a wonderful little store here in Chicago called Bari Zaki Studio. They do book binding, have book binding classes, and sell the most delightful pencils, colored pencils, paper, and notebooks.   

I decided that I needed an art fix, so I went in and purchased 6 of their lovely colored pencils. The entire experience was one that truly fed my soul. They wrapped my little purchase in the lovely handmade wrapper that you see below. Even the receipt was given the utmost attention by putting it in the lovely envelope and adding their sticker. 

When I got home, I took a look at the clip and realized that attention had been paid to the smallest of details by wrapping the clip with a bit of Japanese paper. Six little pencils could not have given me more joy!

*I treated my eyes to something special. Just put the eye masks on for 30 minutes and let your mind float away. Heaven! 

*On another day, I soaked for an hour in an epsom salt bath.

*I love lilies! I had thought that I would just purchase the usual stargazer lilies, but when I arrived at the store, they had these lovely Asian lilies. Take note of how full the blooms are. Each and every time that I walk into the room, their fragrance reminds me that I took the time to do a little something just for me! 

*For the last day of my challenge, I sat down and finished the sweater that I had started. I just love it :) It's sleeveless, so more of a vest than a sweater, but it will be nice to wear over a long sleeve t-shirt next winter.

Although the initial challenge is over, as I said earlier in this post, I now see just how important it is to not loose sight of doing for ourselves. Going forward, I have decided to take a suggestion from Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way. Each week plan an "artist's date," something that I actually schedule so that I can look forward to it, even if it's just a trip to Starbuck's for a cup of tea. From time to time, I hope to share a few of those dates with you.

I hope that my little journey has inspired you, to maybe slow down a bit and do something that makes your soul sing. Night before last, I received a phone call from a friend's son. She had gone in for a procedure, something that was done in her doctor's office. During the procedure, her heart rate plummeted, and she was without oxygen for more than 5 minutes. In the blink of an eye, this precious soul was gone. Her passing has reminded me of just how fleeting this life is. By all means, take some time to be good to you.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A Little of This, and a Little of That Makes a Jacket

This morning it was raining and quite dreary out. As I sat down to do my morning writing, I heard a cardinal singing his heart out. It made me smile. Regardless of his circumstances, he was going to sing and find joy in the day. A great lesson :)

What a joy it is to be sewing again! Last week, I drafted out a pattern for a new jacket, and....


I am so very pleased with how it turned out. The embossed fabric is actually sheer. I backed it with a piece of navy blue cotton velvet. The cotton velvet was a lucky resale shop find. 

The front of the jacket hangs straight, while the back drapes and hangs away from the body. I added a hood, just because I felt like it ;)

The jacket is lined in this fun pop of burnt orange.

Last summer, Becky of Trial Balloons sent me this beautiful piece of embroidered silk that included a bit of cutwork. Peeking through the cutwork was the burnt orange silk. I had just enough to do cuffs, and so the inspiration for the lining.   

I actually wore this dress last Christmas. I love the fabric, a lovely stretch velvet that glistens with an undertone of the burnt orange when I move. 

I just love how the dress and the jacket look together!

A little secret on the drafting of the jacket pattern...
I actually began with the free Chelsea Raglan Tee from fabrics-store.com. If you are interested, I can do a post on how I drafted the jacket.

I was asked about the zipper. I actually bought it at Joann's Fabrics. It's a navy blue zipper with navy blue metal teeth. They also had the fun zipper pull, sold separately. I could not have been more pleased! Sometimes Joann's pulls through for us when we are in a pinch!!!

Have a wonderful day, and may you find something that will make you sing :)

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