Sunday, May 16, 2021

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Fabulous Free Pattern Friday, A Look Back at The Flutter Top

If you aren't on Instagram, I strongly encourage you to open an account!!! The inspiration is incredible!!! 

For the month of March, Sam of Fruglisama, and Ruan of The Yorkshire Sew Girl  hosted a challenge, make up a dress with a free pattern, and use something from your stash. Okay, easy enough. As I thought about the free pattern that I would like to use, there are millions!!!!, I decided to use 1 of my own free patterns. Why not?!! After all, I've invested a lot of time and energy into my Fabulous Free Pattern Friday series. 

The tunic/top below was actually done 10 years ago :/ Amazing! But, it's still great all these years later. I called it The Flutter Top as the draped side flutters when you walk :) You can find the free instructions HERE

I had found a lovely piece of silk at the resale shop. I'm always amazed by what people give away. The size of the piece was perfect for the project. There wasn't enough to do a belt, but I also had a lovely piece of silk that had been given to me, and I liked how the 2 pieces worked together.  

This piece could not be simpler, it's just a rectangle. I left arm openings on the side seams. The drape section is created with just a simple vertical seam. A large buttonhole was done at the waistline for the tie belt to go through. The selvedge edge was so nice, so I left it and did not even hem dress.

Here you can see me move in the dress :)

Just in case you missed the link, you can find the instructions HERE. A great piece for spring/summer wear. If you make a shorter tunic length, it looks fabulous with pants, especially a pair of very flowy pants. 

Winter is quickly coming to an end. I am off for my very last day of skiing. Kinda makes me sad :(  But, there's so much to look forward to, kayaking, lovely hikes with Berkley, working in my garden. We always need to look for the bright side of everything!

Thanks for stopping by :)

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Creating With Friends

 A while back, Cennetta Burwell of The Mahogany Stylist and I teamed up to make cargo pants. We had so much fun!!! And then the added benefit...we got new pants!!!

We have both enjoyed our cargo pants so much that we decided to team up again and do not only a new pair of cargo pants, but a cargo jacket as well. We chose the Kelly Anorak from Closet Core Patterns.


My jacket is cut and ready to go. Cennetta and I are using the same fabric for our jackets, so we'll be twins ;) The fabric is a lovely stretch twill, so it should make for a fabulous spring jacket. 

Once we get our jackets completed, we will be making the cargo pants from Iconic Patterns

We love the look of the pant. Can't wait to get these made up!

If you have never collaborated with a friend on a sewing project, I encourage you to do so. If nothing more, you both hold each other accountable!!! 

We should have made a little progress on our jackets by next week, so stay tuned!!!

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Monday, March 15, 2021

Monday Morning Inspiration/Combining Prints

Over on Instagram, Sewover 50 has a little challenge going for the month of March entitled, #SO50PATTERNMIXING 

When I read about the challenge, I thought that it would be a lot of fun to participate. A while back, I found this fun little dress at the resale shop. I absolutely loved the mix of patterns, and the overall design.  

I did wear it as 1 of my outfit of the day pieces, and paired it with a pair of tights that I did make. So although I didn't make the dress, at least I made the tights!!! :) But, I thought the dress was really quite inspirational, especially for any type of scrap busting one might like to do.   

So, here are my plans for my pattern mixing piece.

There's a wonderful band out of North Carolina called Fireside Collective. Like all performers, they have really had a difficult go of it this past year. I bought a few t-shirts, and various things in order to try and help out a bit. Whenever I buy a t-shirt, I always like to get an X-large as I cut them down and make them into something that's not just something without any fit. Sadly, my camera did not do justice to the colors, but it's a lovely green with blues, and purples in the logo.   

I made the mountainscape t-shirt last summer. It's fine, but crazy me, when I attached the neckband, I wasn't paying attention, and the center back seam is at center front. Yes, I could take it off and reposition it, but I really like how the colors work with the Fireside Collective t-shirt, so it's getting cut up. 

I needed a few more pieces to mix in, so I headed over to the resale shop. Again, my camera did not pick up the colors, but the 3 pieces that I chose really do work quite well with the Fireside Collective t-shirt, and the mountainscape t-shirt.   

We'll see how this all turns out :/ At the very least, I think it will be fun to arrange the pieces, and just play around a bit!

Wishing you a lovely, lovely week!!!

BTW, the new blog that I am writing for the American Opera Society of Chicago is going quite well. If by chance you would like to check it out, you can find all of the posts that I've done thus far HERE


Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Fun with Fashion/Just Letting It Happen

One of the best things about being able to sew is being able to create a truly unique garment. A few years ago, I went to the Lincoln Park Zoo Ball in Chicago. It is an absolutely spectacular event, and they raise huge amounts of money for the zoo. I think it's 1 of only 3 zoos in the United States that's still free. Anyway, I was shocked that evening as 4, yes 4!!! women had on the exact same gown. Talk about horror of horrors!!! Well, in the overall scope of things, if this is your worst horror, it really isn't all that bad ;), but I'm sure those ladies were not happy :/

I purchased the fun faces in the dark fabric that I used for the skirt below some time ago from Mood Fabrics. Once I had the fabric, I thought it would make a fun skirt. I can't remember how much I purchased, but it wasn't a lot, so I ended up piecing it a tiny bit on the side seam at the waist. Who's going to ever see that, right?!! The piecing ended up disappearing into the folds of the gathers, so no one will ever be the wiser...except you!!!  

Once I got the skirt together, it felt a little short, so I purchased the black cotton to make a border along the hem. I cut it on the bias and it worked out perfectly, except that it felt a little stark. What to do? As I looked at the fabric, what jumped out at me were the eyelashes on the faces. Hmmm...why not embroider eyelashes on the border? I decided to keep them somewhat free form, and form a scallop like design. I'm quite happy with the outcome :)

I felt that the skirt needed a lining, and in my quest to try and use what I have, I decided to use the animal print silk. I decided that if it wasn't the best, hey it's lining!!! But, once I got it together, I liked it so much that I decided to do a matching blouse.     

Since I used ALL of my fabric to make the skirt, and had nothing left for a waistband, I decided to just do a fold over elastic. 

For the blouse, I had this pattern, and I really liked the sleeves. It's a nice basic pattern.

I decided that I wanted a cummerbund type of a detail, so I cut 2 very long strips, and put a layer of fusi-knit inside to give the silk a little stability. The ends of the strips were cut on an angle and attached at the side seam so that they could wrap around the waist.

And here's the final result!

Here's a little video to give you an idea of how the outfit moves.

This outfit was definitely a piece that evolved. It was not planned out from the beginning, but I think that's part of the fun of creating, just let it happen :)

Wishing you a creatively wonderful day :)

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Monday, March 8, 2021

Monday Morning Inspiration/International Women's Day

When I sat down to do my writing this morning, I tore the page off my daily calendar and saw that it's International Women's Day. For some, the day will mean nothing. For others, it's a day to participate in a march. For me, it's a day to reflect, and to think about the women who came before me. None of them wrote a great piece of literature, found a cure for a disease, or held a political office. But, they were heroes in their own right. I wrote the piece below in 2012, the morning before I went to vote. I hope that you will enjoy it.


A Voice Where One Did Not Exist

A few years before my great aunt died, she gave me this picture.

It's an incredible piece of family history as pictured here in the front row is my great-great-great grandmother and grandfather. On the right hand side of the picture, is my great-great grandfather and grandmother(her eyes have been scratched out. At some point in time, a child got hold of this picture and drew all over the back and scratched out the eyes of my great-great grandmother.) In her lap is my great grandmother and in the lap of her sister is the twin sister of my great grandmother. This photograph was taken in 1886.

Faces from the past, strangers, and yet, my family.

As I look at this woman, my ancestor, I think of what her life was like. It was a hard life. She would have risen early, cooked on a wood stove, which meant the stove had to be stoked prior to cooking. No turning a knob and instantly having a flame. Eggs would be gathered, chickens fed, the cow milked, and all before breakfast was cooked. Her life was a busy life, taking care of a home, sewing, cooking, raising children and all without any of the luxuries that I now take for granted. What her eyes tell me though, is that this was all done as she had no other choice. No choice and more importantly, no voice. 

I know more about my great-great grandmother. What a joy to be able to see what my great-great grandfather looked like. He looks to have been a good man. The couple went on to have two more children, another daughter and a son. Sadly, my great-great grandfather died when the children were still quite young. At that time, a woman could not own land in Florida, but she could in Texas, as long as she was not married. In pursuit of a better life for her family, this woman who had been left alone with four young children, packed her wagon, tied the cow to the back, and set off for Texas. What an incredibly brave woman. There were no conveniences along the way. They had to walk as the wagon carried their belongings. Nights were spent under the stars, all of their food cooked on a campfire. When it rained, they were wet. It was a very difficult journey. They did make it to Texas and she and all of her children lived out their lives there. My great-great grandmother died in 1961 at the age of 96.
At the time of this picture, there are three generations of women who had no voice, no rights, only obligations. 
Today, I will vote. My right to vote is very important to me. It's important to ensure the future of the women who are yet to come, and it's important as a sign of respect for all those who came before me who had no voice. As I walk into the polling place today, I will think of my great-great grandmother. Each step I take will be dedicated to all the steps she took to pursue a better life for her family. As I cast my vote, I will thank her for the life I have, the voice I have, the rights I have. 


The picture below is of my great grandmother, the same woman who was being held by her mother in the family picture above. Although you can't see me, I am there. She was making breakfast, and I was standing beside her, talking. The photograph was taken as she looked down to reply to me. This picture hangs in my kitchen. Alongside the picture is the spoon that she cooked with. It's quite worn, but such a treasure to me. 

So many of us tend to get caught up in the idea that the women who have really made a mark in this world are those who have fought, marched, bucked the system. While they are important, I think it's also important to remember those who came before us, who took chances, and created a better life for their families. Had my great-great grandmother not taken the chance to walk to Texas with her family, I would not be here today. 

I hope that you will take sometime today to reflect on all those who came before you, who struggled and paved the path for your life. 

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Life Gives Us a Present, and It's Called Today

Come to find out, the typical person wears 20% of their wardrobe, 80% of the time. 

Since last July, I have been on a journey to wear my handmade wardrobe each and everyday. There have been a few days here and there where I just didn't feel like dressing, stayed in my running pants, no shower, no makeup, just me in the raw ;) But, I think we all need a day like this from time to time. 

I have learned so much about myself, about my wardrobe, what I like, what don't like, and what I need. As extensive as my wardrobe is, I think most would wonder what I could possibly need, but by being so focused, I have seen the holes in the puzzle of my wardrobe. 

It's no secret that I absolutely LOVE Ted Talks.They inspire me, make me laugh, and give me so much to think about. I recently came across a talk that was done by an emergency room nurse. Her talk is entitled, "Change Your Closet, Change Your Life." She talks about how we "save" things for a day that may or may not come. There's a comment that she made that I so loved. She equates clothes, our good china, a special bottle of alcohol, even a candle as presents that we leave wrapped. But, what's on the inside is always better than the wrapping. In other words, using what we have is a better gift than saving it, and potentially never using it. If you have a few minutes, I invite you to grab a favorite cup of tea, or coffee, and enjoy her video.

With me posting my outfit of the day, each and everyday on Instagram, what I have found most interesting is that so many want to see inside my closet. I had forgotten that I did a video peek into my closet 4 years ago. In the video I talk about Jennifer Scott of  the Daily Connoisseur, and 3 of the books she wrote on living well. You can find her YouTube channel HERE. I also showcase a few of my favorite pieces from my wardrobe. If you missed it 4 years ago, or would just like to see it again, I have included it below. When you grab that cup of tea, make sure it's a big one ;)

Another "closet" video is in the works, so it should be up soon :)

What I have found interesting is that COVID is what inspired my journey, and it is what has prompted me to live as I really want to live. I do my best to dress each and everyday because I know all too well that this could easily be my last day. I have learned to focus on what I can do, and not on what I can't. Many or shocked when I saw that this past year has actually been one of the best years of my life. 

I love this quote from Gillian Dunn;

When we put excuses on hold, we find that the other side is joy, confidence, and freedom.  

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Languishing Project Finally Finished

I have been lazy!!! As my grandfather used to say, 

"Pure dee ol' lazy!" 

That just might be the worst kind of lazy!!! I just love when some of those old sayings come back to me :) Not so much though when they fit me to a tee :/

But, here I am, back once again :)

Back in January, I was doing a bit of cleaning in my studio, emphasis on "a bit." Trust me, it is FAR from clean. I came across a jacket that I would like to tell you how long ago I cut it out, but it was so long ago that I have absolutely no idea! So, a long time ago. But, the good news is that I finally got it together, and I actually wore it out to dinner last night. 

The fabric is a double-faced faux fur. I was actually able to make the jacket so that it's reversible. For the edging, I pulled away the faux fur and just used the wool. The seams were basically done the same way. I cut 1 side of the seam down to the stitching. On the other side of the seam, I pulled away the faux fur, cut it away, and then stitched down the wool so that it's similar to a flat-felled seam. The wool does not fray, so I didn't need to turn it under. 

I know that the pattern has to be long out of print. And no, I am not a size 18, but I liked the pattern, so I just cut it down to fit me.

I forgot to add that I made a loop and covered a button for a closure. You can see that in the video. I really didn't want a tie belt. It just seemed as though it would be too much.  

I had enough left over to cut a little pencil skirt. The pieces are so interchangeable with other pieces in my wardrobe. I keep kicking myself about allowing this to languish for so long. But, it's done now, and I guess that's what really counts :)

Hopefully I have inspired you to pull something out that is long overdue. It's just the greatest feeling when something old finally comes to life!

Have a wonderful day!

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Saturday, February 13, 2021

A New Writing Adventure!

Over the years that I have been writing this blog, I have shared that I am involved with the American Opera Society of Chicago. I was president for 6 years, the first in the history of the organization to hold that position for that length of time. And too, a position that I felt quite honored and humbled to have held as Mrs. Rockefeller McCormick was the first president. The organization has evolved over the years, but what has remained the same is the desire to promote young artists.

Each year, AOSC holds a scholarship competition in March, well sadly, except this year. In fact, when COVID raised its ugly head back in March, we had just completed our competition for 2020. So, we were quite fortunate to have gotten it in before everything shut down. 

Like everyone, figuring out how to function during COVID posed quite the challenge. Thanks to Zoom, we have continued to have board meetings. But sadly, we have not been able to hold any of our events, and showcase our scholarship winners. So, what to do?

The answer was to start a blog, and once again, I am quite honored to have been asked to write the blog. I love everything about music, so I see this as a wonderful addition to my creative life ;)

This past summer I had the opportunity to fly with and become friends with our top vocal award winner for 2020. He has an over the top personality that just draws one in, the kind of person that makes everyone in his presence feel special. The board felt that a video of the 2 of us talking about opera and what he has been doing during COVID would be especially interesting to our membership. 

So many of you have been so very kind to me over the almost 11 years that I have been writing this blog. You have stuck with me during the times when I just haven't felt like writing, and encouraged me to keep going. Don't worry, I am not abandoning this blog, but I wanted to share that I will be writing a weekly blog for the American Opera Society of Chicago. And, I felt that the best way to make the announcement would be to share the video that I made with the amazingly talented Christopher Kenney. The video is about 28 minutes long. Be sure to stay to the end as Chris will have you laughing...at me ;)       

I hope you enjoyed the video! 
If by chance you too love opera, and would like to follow my weekly posts, you can find the AOSC website HERE. The blog is entitled "Bravo," so just click on that link in the header. 

Before I go, I would just like to once more say thank you to all of you who have followed over the years. Your support has meant the world to me!


Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Friday, February 12, 2021

Fabulous Free Pattern Friday/The As You Choose Top, Wrap, Skirt

I can't remember the last time I did a Fabulous Free Pattern Friday post!!! At any rate, it's been quite some time, that's for sure :)

This is not a new post. I actually did this skirt 9 years ago :/ Wow, how could it be that long ago?!! I wore the skirt just a few days ago, posted it on Instagram, and a number of people commented on the shape, and loved it. So, I thought I would do a reminder post of the skirt. It is nothing more than a rectangle. It needs to be made in a knit. The end result is a piece that is quite versatile, and packs like a dream. And too, it's quite easy to wear.

Here's the picture I posted on Instagram. Since I originally made the skirt, I wear it with the drape on the side.   

Me 9 years ago ;) As you can see, I am wearing it with the drape in the back. 

I really like that I started doing videos to go along with my Instagram posts as it gives you a better idea of how the garment looks on the body, and how it moves.

And here's the magic of it all. It's just 2 rectangles with 2 ties. It cannot get any easier!!!

If by chance you would like to make 1 of your own, you can find my original post HERE.

Over this upcoming year, I am going to revisit a number of the pieces that I did for the Fabulous Free Pattern Friday series. It's been brought to my attention that they can be a bit difficult to find. In the event that you would like to take a look at some of the pieces I've done, you can find most of them HERE on my Pinterest page.  

What I love about this series is that it shows that fashion does not need to be complicated. Of course, complicated can be fun, but easy and fashionable is always a win, win situation in my book :)



Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Friday, January 29, 2021

Creatures Great and Small

Can you believe that January is almost over?!!! It seems like this month just started and now it's over!

Over the years, I have received some lovely messages about the little Christmas Creatures that I make each year for my husband. I absolutely love doing this, and he especially looks forward to what the new creature will be. So sweet. He now has quite the collection.

In the fall, while I'm out walking Berkley, I pick up seeds that catch my eye. When I get back home, I have a plate that I keep on my kitchen windowsill where I place my little treasures. They all sit there waiting for a couple of months. I usually put the little creature together on Christmas Eve. Talk about pressure!!! But, I have found that when I don't have time to think, the little creatures tell me who they want to be. I know that may sound silly, but that's how it seems to work.

This year I was determined to only use what I had picked up over the previous months. After years of collecting seed pods, I have quite the collection! So here's the little guy that came to life :)

His little furry tail came off of some sort of weed. 

He seems so happy :)

A few years ago, I found this old box. I had shelves and a glass front installed. So now all the creatures have a quirky place to live. The guy on top is just too large to live inside, so he keeps watch over everyone ;) 

I so enjoy looking at the collection!

I took all the creatures out of the cabinet and placed them on my mantle so that I could do a little video. 

All of the creatures seem to have a happiness about them. I think it's because of how I feel when I help them come to life. Who knows? ;)

I love sharing these fun little guys. Hope you've enjoyed seeing them!

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Sewing With Friends

With the pandemic looming large over our lives, we have had to figure out new ways to connect. Maybe I'm being a little too honest here, but I just don't like Zoom meetings. I know I am not alone as a friend of mine and I were talking about this and she too just doesn't like meeting via Zoom. It takes less time, true enough, but there's just something to be said for getting up, getting dressed, going to a meeting, and having physical contact with those you enjoy being with. 

Back in the late fall I returned home and found piles of fabric in my garage. At first, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was as if a fabric fairy had snuck into my garage and left me an incredible gift. Even the tooth fairy was never this generous!!! As I stood there dumbfounded, my mind began to race as to how the fabric could have gotten there. So, whoever did this had to have a key to my garage. There's only 1 person other than my husband and I who has access to the garage. I called my friend, and sure enough, he had been the fairy!

In the pile of fabric were 3 bolts of wool, beige, pink and a light blue. The beige/camel bolt had the most yardage. I divided the bolt into 5 yard increments and washed it. I even dried it! It felted a bit, but not so much, so I knew that it wasn't 100% wool. But, it is still lovely.

I gave 5 yards to a friend of mine so that she and I can do coats. Our coats will be similar, but different. In an upcoming post I'll share her coat pattern.

Since I have quite a bit of yardage, I decided that this was my opportunity to use a vintage pattern that I have had for quite some time.

The wool did not photograph all that well. I still need to steam it.

I absolutely love this pattern!!! I plan to extend the sleeves as I will not wear a short sleeved coat.

You can see from the pattern diagram that lengthening the sleeve will not be a problem.

My friend and I are talking once a week about our projects. Some of our conversations are face time, and others are just regular telephone conversations. The project gives us a great excuse to talk, and in the end, we'll have something fun that we worked on together whether we could meet in person or not. 

My friend who gave me the fabric is so excited about the project, and that I was able to find something fun to do with the wool. So, this is a win, win project all around :)

My friend with whom I am doing the project has an embroidery machine. She is making dragon flies for us to attach to our coats. The project just keeps getting better and better!!!

If you are missing having interaction with a friend, or friends, maybe you can take a little cue from us and do a project together. Like I said, just having an excuse to talk makes such a huge difference. 

Keep Sewing!!!


Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A Unique Vintage Opportunity

I received a message from a sewing friend who has decided to let go of a few of her vintage magazine treasures. Here's a sampling;  

The above photograph is from the book pictured below, an entire publication devoted to furs. While many no longer wear the real thing, I think the pictures provide inspiration for working with faux fur. 

The pictures below are from Les Parisiennes, such lovely French magazines.

The collection includes 8 magazines, including Vogue and Simplicity. Such a lovely opportunity to develop a library of vintage fashion.

You can find the Ebay listing HERE. If you go to the site, you'll see other pictures that I have not included. If you think you're interested, don't delay, the listing ends on Tuesday, January 19, 2021!!! 

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Keeping a Record

 A few years ago I started keeping a record of the books I read throughout the year. What prompted me to do it was while looking back over the year, my first thought was that I had not accomplished much, and that I had not read anything! :/ But, once I began to really think about the past year, I realized that I had done more than I gave myself credit for.  So, for the last few years, I have kept a record in my yearly planner. I also keep a record of what I've knitted. But, I have not kept a record of what I've sewn. Go figure!!!

So, this year I've decided to not only keep a record of my completed sewing projects, but I've decided to keep a lovely notebook with details about each garment. 

I went online and searched free sewing planners, and found a few that I really like.

The planner that I will most likely go with is from Simple Simon & Company. You can find it HERE.  I like that it's very clean, and detailed enough, but not overly so. 

So far this year, I have completed 3 projects. Trust me, they were all quite simple. I have the swatches on my pages, and I'll get the details filled in later today. I think it's best to do it right away while the project is still fresh in my mind.

Another planner that I found that is quite nice is from Sewing and Quilting Club. With this planner, they have included a notions and accents section where you can just circle rather than having to write out everything. You can find their planner HERE

I also found a wonderful planner from Seamwork,which is free. This planner is based on developing a collection rather than just 1 garment.

There are pages that can be used as a sewing record.

But, if you would like to actually plan a mini wardrobe capsule, the planner will walk you through the entire process. You can find the Seamwork planner HERE

I'm really excited about keeping a sewing diary of sorts. I have a feeling that I am in for a learning experience. We'll see!!! :)

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This