Friday, July 31, 2009

Even a Grandmaw Can Have a Broken Heart

I would like to introduce you to two of my beloved friends, Cheyenne (red paint) and Princess (appaloosa). I got Princess in 1984 when she was approximately 5 years old. I loved her from the moment I laid eyes on her. A horse trader had just purchased her from a friend in North Carolina and she was so beautiful. I told my friend if they ever decided to get rid of her - to please let me know. That took about a year when they called me one day to say if I wanted that horse she was up for sale. As was normal for us , we were short on money so my dear husband sold one of his guns to get the money. The morning we were leaving to go pick her up I was doing chores and I fell off the back of the truck throwing off hay and I cracked my ankle. I was in so much pain for the duration of the trip . When we arrived at our destination I was scanning the area looking for the face of the horse that had won my heart and I just could not see her anywhere on this man's property. There was a horse that looked like a mud statue standing up to her knees in mire and gone was her lovely mane - shaved off - gone, and she was so thin. I could not believe this was the same magical animal I had laid my eyes on a year past. I almost backed out of the deal, but we loaded her up and I covered her with a blanket so she would not get chilled and get sick on our 3 hour ride home. She was very happy to finally step off of the little horse trailer and into a pasture with a creek running through it. That night it rained and the next morning at least she was closer to the color I had remembered , but her mane never did grow back in full - it was always a skimpy little piece of hair here and there. After 4 months of nice pasture to graze on she filled back out and my main joy was watching her fly through the pasture with that lovely head up high and her tail in the breeze. She would come to a stop and rear and snort at imagined monsters and throw her tail up in the air and be off again - just so full of herself and enjoying life. I always loved to take her treats and just soak up the horsey smell that was like a perfume to me. Just looking at her made my heart beat with joy - she was so beautiful and so happy just being a horse.

I read the history of the appaloosa and discovered the Nez Perce people of the American Pacific Northwest developed the American breed.Then at the end of one of the Indian Wars the white man herded all they could find into a gully and shot them all to death.It absolutely broke my heart - yet here I had one of these magical creatures in my pasture - just making my life better by her presence.

Cheyenne came into our lives MANY years later when Princess was an elderly horse . I ran into a young lady who had rescued her from a "wantabe" cowboy who had abused her-broken her spirit and her body. From some injuries she sustained she could not raise her head up straight - only half way up. Nickie was looking for a home to retire her in since she was 29 when we got her.She and Princess became fast friends and when Princess lost the sight in one of her eyes - Cheyenne took over and became her "guide" leading her away from dangers. They were the best of buds as they roamed the pasture and drank clean water from the free flowing creek.

This went on for 7 years and then last February Princess started going down hill and in a weeks time she was gone from me. I was so devasted and I cried for weeks on end. My beloved dream come true was gone. Then Cheyenne started grieving also and she lost weight. It was horrible. I thought when the green grass came in maybe she would do better and she did for a while. But then this week we had some torrential rains and one night she slipped and fell , ending up where she could not right herself. We found her that morning and we got her turned , but she was too stiff to get to her feet. I checked her mouth to see if she was going into shock and that was when I discovered that she had lost most of her teeth during the Winter and Spring - so I knew it was a hopeless battle , no reason to put her through anymore. I called the vet and a wonderful lady vet came to set her spirit free.

Once again my heart was broken. When you have had animals in your life that long -they become a part of you. I was already in counseling because of post tramatic stress from a car accident where a teenager had hit hubby and I head on - And - this couselor introduced me to "The Rainbow Bridege" , where animals go to be in perfect health to wait to be reunited with human friends and that helped to ease my broken heart. They were my beloved friends and my tears still fall for them, but I was so lucky to have their love in my life. It is just hard for us that are left behind - whether from 4 legged or 2 legged loves gone on.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The budding designer in me skins her knees!

You know how those "wild ideas" can be??? Well, I had seen a shirt that I liked instantly, but of course I could not find a pattern. So, I came up with the wild idea -how hard can it be to make your own???? I carefully drawed out what I thought looked right and then cut it out of fleece. Thinking that some snowflakes would make it look kind of snuggly warm for wintertime I played around with some thread I had found , which was not embroidery thread - but got it to work. My other challenge was making that round neck and trying to keep it straight and not do some of my "wild driving" and have curves all over the place. I was getting pretty excited to try on my very first creation! I liked the way it slide over my head and was feeling -proud as punch - UNTIL I sat down and then the creature pulled back against my throat and tried to strangle me to death! I would pull it forward and it would pull itself BACKWARDS - we were having a regular see-saw act going on with neither one of us winning . We finally called it a "draw" and I said my designer days were not quiet there yet! But gosh, we all have to start somewhere - don't we????????????? LOL

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Next Turn in The Road

Since I was now visiting in the world of "antique fabrics" and Christmas was around the corner, I decided my fabric could come to a good use. My beloved , Ruth - had a beautiful young daughter who was a dedicated drama teacher and the two sisters used to say that the stork got mixed up coming to their houses because the two girls acted more like their Aunt's rather than their Mom's. Ruth was frantically looking for some kind of a gift for her daughter and I remembered the fabric I had- had come from Nancy's aunt - whom she loved and I knew that would make the gift more important to her. Since she was a drama teacher I hunted for embroidery designs related to drama and I got lucky. After I finished off the drama projects I ran across a design with pansies and Ruth adores pansies - so I did a towel for her. I am not for sure which she was more pleased with - the gift for her daughter or a gift for her kitchen that tied the memories of her entire family which she loved so much.

I was beginning to feel like a "warrior princess" now discovering the power that fabrics enabled you to comfort others and enrich their lives.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Step Back in History.

Life can be such a funny adventure as the road twists and turns. I had a very dear friend who introduced me to two sisters who needed help cleaning a little cabin on the lake. My first friend told me that she was afraid to mention it to me because you never know how people will hit it off and if it went wrong she did not want me upset at her. Well, that would never happen because by the end of that day - I was madly in love with these two sisters who were both in their 80's and two of the most wonderful gals I had ever met, honest , generous and hard working with hearts of gold. By the end of the day I was exhausted and had done my best , and I had made wonderful new friends.

About a week later Helen called me and asked if I could consider cleaning house for her. I told her we would try it and see if I made her happy. It ended up being a 3 year friendship that enriched my life more than words could ever say as Helen opened up her heart and let me step in.

One day we were cleaning in her attic and there was a very old metal drum which had fabrics in it. One the top were upholstery fabrics from the past and on the bottom was linen kitchen towels from a college that Helen's father had worked at in the 1930's. Just handling these beautiful antique fabrics made my mind run helter skelter with what life must have been like back then -and here they were -stored safe in a metal drum. Helen told me to grab a handful . I asked her if she was sure and she said yes. I was totally thrilled and I took them home and store them in my "stash" - happy just to pull them out and look and feel them when ever I went looking at fabrics for projects.

After 3 years I lost my beloved Helen at age 87 and it left a hole in my heart as big as a football field. Some friends are just too special and I cried for weeks until I could not cry anymore. Now , I had the younger sister, Ruth who was left and devasted by the loss also. They did have a younger sister who lived in another state and after a while she decided to move to be closer to the brother and sister who were left. Ruth was trying to figure out a Christmas present for her sister and it was the first Christmas they had been close to each other in years ? I remembered my hidden stash of the kitchen towels brought home by THEIR Father all those years past ! The new sister had been a nurse all her life so I found the nurse embroidery designs and worked them on the antique fabrics - trying to make them special - just for her. I hoped that it would be like her family had reached through the years and was still sending her love and welcoming her home!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to the knit world

I just cannot help myself - I love the world of knits. All those beautiful colors and degrees of softness that tempt me . I was getting to be best friends by now with the "oversized tee shirts pattern. My sister-in-law is named Katherine, but I call her Kat and when she was a little girl they called her Kat-bird so when I ran across the design with the feisty little blue-bird - I just knew that it would have to be a "Kat-bird" ! I really enjoyed this shirt , the knit had a lot of "give " to it and made it very comfortable for her.

The eagle shirt I did for my brother-in-law because he served in the army . Really I did two shirts - one for him and one for her -since they have always been a team. But the pattern I used for him was a Butterick men's tee shirt and after I saw it on him - I did not like it at all. It just did not hang right or something. The one I did for my sister-in-law I put on the oversized tee shirt pattern and it turned out nice and she got a lot of compliments on it.

That is one of the things that stumped me - until you make one - you never really know how something will turn out and each piece of fabric is so different - it can cause tremendous differences in the project. I do not like for them to have that "home sewn" feel to them - I dream of them having a professional feel to them.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hoping to test a new fabric and Pattern??

I had run across a new pattern that made me think of a poncho and I found some cheap fabric that was silky that I could practice on? I did discover "chasing" slick fabric was going to be a challenge. I started with the pink fabric first for a granddaughter and I was amazed at the process of cutting what resembled a rectangle and turning it into a shirt. Then after I "chased" the fabric for a while and pinned a gazllion times and pressed I finally had the resemblance of a poncho shirt so I added some beaded trim around the neck of that one because she was a young person and her favorite color was pink.

Then I moved on to the pale green one that shimmers and I tackled the same problems - learning how to make "PINS" my best friend and also learn Patience for another granddaughter.

The third dark green one was for my daughter-in-law because she loved green and at the time she was in college and I thought she could wear a turtle neck shirt under it .

It was an interesting lesson - both about the fabric and the pattern. I did learn to have great "respect" for silky fabrics because sometimes - they can move faster than I can!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Have you ever heard of digitizing?

This was am interesting project for me. I was telling Lynne about wanting to do a project for a granddaughter that would have something to do with horses . Lynne said IF I could draw a horse picture then she would show me how to digitize it so I could use my embroidery machine to embroidery it on the tee shirt I wanted to make . So I sat down and did a simple horse head and watched in amazement as Lynne digitized the picture and watching her was like watching a fabric artist - only she was painting the picture with stitches of colors Instead of a paint brush and paints. It was an amazing process and one that I wished I could learn. But the programs I checked into were bigger bucks than I could swing and I was still having problems with my learning capabilities so that wish has gone on the back burner for now. I wondered , it is just aging that causes my learning disabilities??? I don't know yet, but I know the process was amazing and having a finished design that you had hand drawn was so neat. Instead of your art hanging on someone's wall - it was out walking around in the world?? That was a first for me and that would not have been possible without Lynne's kindness and generosity. I will always think that "Friends" are our greatest gift of all. ~smile~

Friday, July 24, 2009

Next event - Happy Birthday

Every day is a day to celebrate and my youngest adult son was having a birthday, so that was a "double " reason to celebrate. I was still learning so much , between different patterns and different knits and different embroidery designs that I was intimidated to try to sew something for my son. But I hoped that even if I goofed up bigtime, he would know that is was out of love and he could still use them to at least work in as he worked construction and could always use shirts.

One of the lessons I learned was that - depending on the stretchiness of the knit - it could change the size of the shirt and also the neck. Very much give would allow the neck to "sag" and I did not like that at all - But - if it did not have much give - then the neck would "choke" you????? I was beginning to think that "sewing" was a lot like - LIFE- every day is something new to learn and challenge yourself on. I was beginning to just wish for a project that would JUST co-operate and Flow like it was suppose to!

I was starting to wish that we humans could "just be born with the knowledge" that we would need and not have to "work so hard " to latch onto it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sounds like I am wishing for "A Gift" instead of a skill???? I am not for sure - but I definitely am WISHING! ~smile~

How do your all manage to "get over the humps???"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Almost school-time

It was almost time for school to start again and none of us had much money for school clothes - but I had a fabric stash from being in the right place at the right time, so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to learn some more lessons. I had found this knit fabric with the shooting stars on it and I thought the girls might enjoy some tee-shirts. This was also a pattern that I had not used before - I had caught it at Jo-Ann's when they have their patterns for .99 each. The one thing I did not like about this pattern was the neck-line. All they told you to do was to turn it under a 1/4 of an inch , but I did not like the finished result. It did give me an opportunity to practice more ways of trying to sew straighter lines?????

I also learned when you did not have enough of one color you could always accent by using your small pieces to do the arms and add more color. I was still amazed at how different pieces of knit all had different properties, some just made a sharper looking garment than other pieces. I sure wish I had somebody in my life who had done this before me and could explain all these tricks to me and tell me what to look for and what to expect! But I was not lucky enough to have a "Fabric Fairy" in my life !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DO YOU??????????????????

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Me, Me, Me!

Now it was time to tackle me a project once again. I needed shirts badly too and I had run across a bargain piece of knit which just seemed to have my name on it. I chose the fish design because I had dug my very own pond and had fish that I loved too. This knit was kind of a medium weight fabric with nice "give " to it. It always seemed to disappoint me that when I would run across a piece of knit fabric - that there was never any information on the package to tell me any thing about it - so it was very difficult for me to figure out how many different kinds of knit there were and how all their properties were so different?

I did pretty good on this experiment and since it was MY project I got to play some more with that lettuce edging on the sleeves and the tail and the neck-band went pretty good for me , with some holding my breath! I really loved that "shirt tail" because it helps cover my hips and my tummy and seems to give me a little more height.

Still not perfect, still learning and still SO proud to have something that came from my very own hands.
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The more people you have in your life to sew for - the more you can learn, I had decided. My sister-in-law was now full time care-giver to her Mom and had little time to go to town unless it was for doctor visits or groceries and she was in a different state than we were. She had no time for shopping for clothes and she used men's white tee shirts just because they were easier to come by. I wanted to surprise her with something different.

It is amazing how much difference there is in Knits. The yellow piece is softer with a lot more "give" to it. The lavendar is the more course with very little give to it and a little more weight to it. Plus, this time I practiced making the neck-bands different sizes to see if it would help me any?The yellow one is more wide and the lavendar is more narrow and I tried REALLY hard to get my seams as straight as I could - Plus - this time I practiced top-stitching around to make that seam lay down nice and flat.

The fish was because they have a small pond in their back yard and the American colored heart is because they were in the Army.
My sister-in-law does not like "frilly" - so this time I Had to pin and do a tradition hem in the sleeves and the tail - which I hated. That was another thing that was hard for me - to make my hem nice and neat - no matter how hard I ironed that stubborn thing - I still had to fight with it. I was Just not Born with a "Gift" - just born Stubborn and not know when to quit!
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Sleepy Time

From the moment I started this shirt it just had a peaceful , sleepy-time feeling to me. Probably because I love butterflies and they are a creature of transformation - just as our sleep is suppose to transform our bodies from energy drained to become energy - driven. The soft blue color soothed my soul and blue is suppose to be very calming. I had discovered the lettuce edging that you can do with Mr. Serger and I practiced for the first time on the sleeves and the bottom edges. I not only loved working with that stitch , but I also loved the fact that you did not have to now PIN a hem in to sew - it was a finished edging. Of course me and the "NECK- BAND " were still enemies. I would work SO hard dividing that neck and then the band to get them to fit perfectly - BUT- then I would get in that "drunk-driving" seam as I worked my way around the neck and OF COURSE - it would show. I tried so HARD! But was still weaving and bobbing for some reason? But even then - I was thrilled to make my very own shirt. I wonder if knowing how hard I had worked on it - OR - if it was the peaceful colors ????? No matter which it was - I did sleep like a baby in my very own creation for a year and a half before it fell apart on me. Why is it - when It is something you love - that it Never lasts as long as you want it too?????????????????????????????
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I know Lynne would love to shoot me.

Because I am always dragging some project in????????????
One day in class I drug in a new book I had bought from the Singer Sewing Reference library called Quick & Easy Sewing Projects and the chapter was titled EASY CLOTHES. They tell you if you want a lightweight jacket you can make one from a reversible cotton throw blanket. They say you will need one or two woven cotton throw blankets , a commercial patttern for a single-breasted V-necked cardigan jacket with dropped shoulders .Depending on the size of the blanket - the jacket may or may not overlap in the front.

It was a very interesting project and it did look really nice when we finished. I made one for my daughter-in-law and one for my granddaughter for Christmas and told them that since they were made from blankets that they could store them in the car just in case they ever broke down, but they decided to wear them long enough to wash them the first time and then told me that they both shrank up so small neither one of them could wear them again!!!!!!!!!! And this was AFTER I had prewashed the blankets to start with??????? So , I guess I learned that SOME fabrics are IFY?????????????????

Another hard learned lesson.
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mr. Brother 1034D serger can create?

My first project that I knew I would TEST on Mr. Serger was another tee-shirt style gown for my Mother-in-law and I KNEW red was her favorite color.

I carefully cut out all the pieces , including where I had lengthened the gown , as she was a very modest lady and then I picked out another angel and embroidered that on the front - FIRST.

One thing I had learned now , about embroidery, was that IF your project took a wild turn - the machine could "EAT" holes in your project- making your eyes turn red and your face turn BLUE!!!!!!!

Then I lined up my front and back pieces and STARED at Mr. Serger?????? Was this going to be a friend OR a foe??? The way you lined your project up to gauge your seam looked very tricky to me - AND - with my "drunk drivers" way of sewing a seam - it looked like I might be in trouble? I lined it up so carefully and was TOO scared to touch the foot-pedal - so I decided to GENTLY turn the hand-wheel and I watched in amazement as the little knife rose up and down , yet at the same time the needles and thread whirled back and forth - all working in unison - making me think there were a whole crew of magic elves hiding in there , running back and forth - running this "factory" to create your project!

But , you just had to be careful in the direction you told them to go. Finally I got brave and pushed down on the foot pedal - SLOWLY- until this new feeling of CAUTION eased and then I held on tight to the fabric and pressed down and felt like a race car driver heading down home stretch!

I still had many lessons to learn, but Mr. Serger seemed more forgiving in my efforts. I still had that dang gum NECK- BAND staring me in the face - taunting me. So this time I used the regular sewing machine to stitch that band EVER so carefully and then I used the serger to go back and trim all the edges to make it look so much cleaner.

I had watched Lynne serge the edges of the bottom and then fold that up - so I followed in her foot-steps - ERRR - serger tracks and then when it came time to put a hem in the bottom - it made it so much easier for me to get it straighter.

I was finally making wee bits of progress and my mother-in-law had a new gown for the effort

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Have you ever met , Mr. Serger?

I now had a couple of tee shirts under my belt , acknowledged that "NECKBANDS" despised my existence and reconciled that I Adored knits. As I sat pondering all these new facts - I was studying the tee shirt envelope and noticed at the bottom it said - OVERLOCK/serger ??????????????????? My wee brain was trying to clear the cobwebs long enough to turn to my beloved mentor with that "deer in the headlight" look I know she was learning to dread - AND - she introduced me to her - MR. SERGER!!!!!!!!!!!!! AWWWW - new magics made my heart pound once again and the things she could make Mr. Serger do - and FLY was one of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Like a race car heading down home stretch - trimming all those lovely edges as she went flying by. UTTTTT OOOOO - I was getting that "feeling" once again - and I knew I would have to figure a way to pull this off???? I mean, I was not getting ANY younger and time was flying by~

Watching Lynne I now was in "WATCH and LEARN " mode! Trying to take it all in - once again I was way out in "left field" and watching a "Mistress of the sewing magic" - the things she could do? I tried to pay close attention and hope some of "her" would drip off on me - I discovered a "Free Arm" was a detail that I liked- enabling me to work on sleeves and pants legs more easily. I loved the differential feed because I thought that would help me work with different types of fabrics and I HOPED to be able to work with "fancy threads" in the future???? Now I was armed with my search list and off I went. You know that saying , " a little knowledge is a dangerous thing"?????? Well, I was definitely a "dangerous thing" !

My trek took me back to Alpine to search the prices . Of course the new machines were out of my league and I asked that brave question once again - DO YOU HAVE ANY USED SERGERS? The did have one and it was a beauty and it would do EVERYTHING I desired and it was only $400.00. Not much - if you say it FAST????? My desire would have to wait a while.

Now my haunts turned to E-bay???? I watched and studied and did check all the other online stores.. Then one night my hubby was surfing the tv channels and on a home shopping network they showed a Brother 1034D, and when they mentioned that it even sewed with normal sewing machine needles - I thought that would be wonderful so I would not forget to keep the right needles - like icing on the cake !!!!

Now my hunt was on in serious and I was like a passionate ghost on E-bay Until one day I was at the right place at the right time and my bid landed me my very own Brother1034D serger for just over a hundred hard earned dollars from cleaning for a friend. Thank goodness for friends!!!!

The day Mr. Serger arrived I just could not believe it. I sat and stared at the box - afraid of this new "creature" inside the box. I finally decided IF I ever hoped to pull off some of these future dreams and do anything like Lynne could do - that I would Have to open the box - which I did - CAREFULLY!

I pulled my new baby out and sat and read the manual. Thank goodness that Lynne had taught me how important these manuals are - not just to be tossed aside , but to be guarded and referred to often. This day began a new chapter in this "sewing granny's life"!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My Tee Shirt Voyage

At the time I was learning how to communicate with over sized tee shirts my mother-in-law had moved in with my sister-in-law , in weak health. When my hubby and I were first married 30 years earlier his Mom worked in a sewing factory. Out of the blue one day she made me a red , white and blue tank style top out of polyester. I Loved that shirt so much that I wore it till it looked like it was a "grass skirt". It was cool and comfortable and it came from my "Mother-in-law's " hands, just for me . How much more special could it be???? I "hinted" for more, But when you worked long hard hours like she did - that left little time for other things , other than survival. I just cherished that little shirt the rest of my life - UNTIL NOW! I was learning and Mom was needing some new gowns! Every gal likes new clothes to lift their spirits and so I modified the shirt pattern and lengthened it to be a "night shirt gown".

With my new friend , Bernina Deco - embroidery machine - I embroidered an angel on the front - and told her that we all need a few angels to watch over us.

Patterns Can Be Your Best Friend or Worst Enemy?

One thing I had learned so far about patterns was that "They scared me to death! Since I had not created them - it was difficult for me to "wrap my brain" around somebody Else's' way of doing things. Then one day while I was "on a fabric search" we passed a little country fabric store , mainly devoted to all you lovely Quilters. Fabrics of all colors , so beautiful and "so cotton" ! I was also scared of cottons - I had not yet heard the call of the cotton - I had to have "somebody" more forgiving and I had discovered KNITS! Aww - the new love in my life - all colors and so forgiving with Stretch!!!!!!!!!!! Now, to nail down a pattern to "test out the waters" ???? I had already checked the normal stores and nothing had "Called " to me- but then while I was strolling around this little store I discovered a back room with a big box of USED patterns. Well, you know the ole saying about "curiosity" and what it can do - so I disappeared into that box for at least an hour and when I bobbed to the surface this little Simplicity pattern was my new adventure?

I studied the envelope , got the knit and Lynne guided me through my first shirt. I loved the feel of the knit and I discovered that I loved a "shirt tail" design - I did not like a regular square tee shirt bottom - for me ! I believe because I am a little "Hippie" and with this design it helped to hide my hips some. I worked really hard on this shirt and my main "boo-boo" that would end up haunting me is "NECKBANDS"!!!!!!!!!!! I declare I know all of them Hate me. I did manage to listen to Lynne and learn to get them pretty balanced all around the neck , But getting my seam to run nice and straight???????????? I was beginning to think that I did not have a straight bone in my body??????????????? And it had no sympathy on me if I went VERY slow - OR - if I speeded up and tried to run faster than the boo-boo could sew??? I would still get it crooked - AND- of course with it around your neck - it had to show up - like a Black-eye! GRRRRR! I was on a determined course - to figure out how to "straighten up a crooked person????"

My next lesson was SIZE????????????? I was a XL and that was the size I was working on. I was so excited to have a finished shirt in hand and excitedly climbed in it - only to have it TOO Big for me. But , I am so lucky to have different size people in my life and my "XL" shirt went to my sister-in-law who was a XXXL and it fit her perfectly! I discovered that the XXL size fit a dear buddy who was a XXXXL and the Large fit a friend who was a XXL and my size turned out to be the SMALL - which I had not been in for years - so - one way to look at that was WONDERFUL! I now wore a size small for the first time in 30 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!lol

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Since I was still tromping around in Fleece

Fleece was definitely a new love in my life and Christmas was still heading my way, so I decided to see what I could pull off for "One of the World's Greatest daughter-in-laws". I was trying to come up with ways to help keep them warm in the winter - time and Tracy was driving a dump truck at the time and I was worried about her being warm in the truck. I find fleece to be light enough to maneuver in and also very warm - especially if layered. I had run across some metallic thread that I wanted to play with and I used it to accent Tracy's shirt with snowflakes. I really did not like any of the collars in the layout - so , with Lynne's help - we modified it somewhat - and a new Christmas present was born - and I actually did not make too many mistakes on this one. (Other than breaking that metallic thread about a thousand times)! ~smile~

While working with so much fleece I was having "leftovers" and I ran across this project - just in case any of you have pooch family members? If you have "fur babies" - you can never have too many toys. lol

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blood , Sweat, and Tears

My struggle with my new "pride and joy " was kinda like - "birthing a baby"! High expectations gave way to research, study , Praying and a lot of begging and long hard hours as I struggled to grasp how this new world worked.

My first "test sample" gave way to an abundance of "bird nests" and no project. I called Alpine in desperation - because I HATE to bother anybody - but they told me to bring my baby and come back in. Sure enough - it was my ignorance - I had to learn to be sure to raise the pressure foot as I threaded each new color and somewhere in my "exuberance"I had neglected to trap that lesson in my wee little brain. After that - life started to look much better and Bernina and I were on a new adventure .

Since I had some of the fleece jackets in my learning list and Christmas was still coming I ventured a new pattern: Simplicity 4324.It was a fun project and along the way I had met a lady who digitized designs and she did me a Pit Bull dog as a gift while she was learning. I wish I could remember her name but I lost it , yet I have not forgot her kindness because I could not find this design anywhere in my searching and my youngest son has a pit bull named Cain , so I was able to put this design on Emmett's shirt and really surprise him . I am still amazed at the kindness of the sewing world and how open they are to helping others accomplish their goals. Christmas was starting to look more exciting to me as each day passed. My children and friends would certainly be knowing I thought of them in great detail this year. I was so excited I could barely contain myself.

I was lurking on a sewing group and they were having conversations about how their families and friends reacted to their sewing, and it was VERY educational to me. It really tore my heart out to learn that others were having their feelings hurt by people making them feel like if it was a handmade gift - then it must not be valuable!!!!!!!!!! I pondered HOW in the WORLD could people even think that way??? Did they not realize when they were of enough importance to receive a "gift of the heart" that all those stitches of love centered around them? Did they not realize that not everybody in the world has a gift like that in their life???? I really think I was "in shock"! I wondered how anybody could be so cruel?

A New Love Dances Into My life!

One day while I was working my my jackets and Lynne was keeping an eye on me - I noticed Lynne was pulling out a NEW TOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At first glance I noticed it was some kind of Bernina with what looked to me to have a clear plastic mini table attached to it to work on, but she pulled that off and attached another unit that had something that looked like an old time Embroidery Hoop????? My interest peeked and drew me to see what this new fangled creation was and what magic she was about to conjure up! I discovered she was making flags for a friend of hers who had a business making custom fitting bras and on these flags she was "Embroidering" a bra design. O MY STARS!!!!!!!!!!! I fell Madly in love and was consumed to learn more. I never even paused to consider with this "learning handicap" I was having that I was indeed venturing into deep waters. My main thought was with this ability I could add unique touches on all of my hard worked gifts to make each gift special and relate to each person. Lynne had lite a "fire" under my furnace - ONCE AGAIN - and it would not be denied - only problem was - MONEY! I might have had "Great Taste" - But a paupers pocketbook??? But you remember the old saying, "where there is a will - there is a way"????? That has always been my motto.

I did a LOT of dreaming and a lot of research and then one day we had to visit a bigger town from our house and I spotted a neat little sewing shop I had never seen before. It was called Alpine Sewing Machine:

Alpine Sewing Machine Co

3609 Brambleton Ave. SW Roanoke, VA 24018. (540) 989-4412 M-F 9-6 Sat 9-4. Picture. Alpine offers a unique place to shop for the finest sewing machines, ... -

I knew this was a deeper chapter in my life than I had ever ventured and it took all my courage to go through those doors. You should have seen the beauty I saw - threads of every color, machines of every use and the most beautiful projects displayed on the walls. Yep, I had landed in a sewing Heaven. I gave a quick look at the prices and felt my heart stop. I knew there was no way, but it doesn't cost anything to just look and dream - and Dream I did. The owners were so kind and when they came out to offer help - I pumped up my courage and asked if they had a "Used embroidery machine?" I almost fell out of my shoes when she came back and said yes, ONE! Well - ONE - was the perfect number for me. She let me sit down in front of this baby and showed me the designs the machine contained and my mind was already putting a design on Christmas presents. She started her up and let it run a simple design and I Knew that I had to find a way to "adopt " that wondrous machine. So, when she said the magic number - I whipped out that "magic credit card" and the new machine and I were going home together as my heart pounded so hard I thought it would break free of my chest. If I was going to die - I certainly was going to die happy.

Little did I know - there were MANY hard lessons ahead of me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Easy Stitch M4639

After we had finished our pillows and caps I asked Lynne if we could make something that we could use and we voted on a jacket. This McCall's pattern is the one we agreed on. Again we would be working with fleece and I loved that. It was time for Fun once again and picking out the fabric is the highlight of the project to me. Do you all Love having a good excuse to go stroke all the beautiful fabrics??? I rubbed and loved until I finally decided on a pale green with little embroidered bears on it. I took it home and washed it and ran it through the dryer. I followed this policy for the last 3 years and then last year when I did that on a piece of fleece - it came out looking like it was ruined??? Made you think someone had held a match to it and it had melted and ran in small areas. So, then I read you do not Have to Prewash fleece - I would love to hear from you guys - if you have any experience in this ??????

But , my first green piece came out beautiful - nice and soft and enticing. Then came the part I did not enjoy at all - laying that pattern out and picking the pieces that went with the view I had chosen , which was C - with a hood. As we laid out the views I felt that same vague feeling overwhelming me. I wondered if it was because I was scared , but that did not make sense. Everything seemed to swirl around my head, but Lynne laid it all out and showed me how to pick out the pieces. After that initial freeze - the rest of the project was fun - especially with Lynne leading the way. She is so knowledgeable and so kind and made the project have the same feeling of being a little girl and playing with your best friend. What better way could there be to spend an evening????????? We finished the project and I wore it all that winter , so very proud of my accomplishment and then I started the dream that I wanted to work towards the goal of wearing only the clothing that I had made for myself. I learned a funny lesson along the way - when I was searching for clothing in the stores - IF - I found something that I liked the style - it was ALWAYS a color I did not like . I had thought IF I could sew my own clothes I would have an easier time finding the colors I wanted- but I was wrong again. Just because I was into creating my own - did not guarantee I would find the perfect colors I wanted. (Live and Learn Again)

I was still wearing my jacket into the early Spring and had met Lynne one day at class and found myself STUCK in my jacket ! The zipper had jammed and Lynne had to get me out of it. I ended up buying a new zipper , but just did not find the time to put the new zipper in that Spring. Then last Christmas when I wanted to wear my jacket and realized it needed the zipper put in - I DISCOVERED I had used the Zipper in a camouflage jacket I had made my husband for Christmas! SO, I am still needing a zipper. LOL

I did discover that I had a problem making the pockets line up right? It seems that on each project I attempt I usually end up with some little Quirk that gives me a fit. DO you guys have that problem too - even if not working on clothing - ON YOUR QUILTS - is there certain things that always seem to haunt you??????????????

I ended up making my oldest son a fleece jacket for his Christmas present and it was out of even heavier fleece and Lynne was surprised that my little Brother machine did just fine sewing that heavy fabric. Cory was driving a tractor trailer that winter and I thought it would be nice to keep him warm , but not so bulky to carry around in a tractor trailer. Then I made my youngest son a camouflage jacket also. I was continually fighting with those pockets though. ~smile~

Look Of Surprise

I thought you might get a big kick out of my lesson . After I left the post last night about the magic apron - I got up from the computer and did the dishes and just as I washed my hands and turned around to go to bed I noticed my beloved apron was now sliding around my ankles????? AND that was when I remembered why it was in the drawer - IF you are the large size and it is stretched out - it will collapse and fall off of you, but IF you are skinny - like the apron -when you pull the ribbons taunt - it will stay up on you. And I am a long way from my size at age 8. LOL

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Little Piece of History?

Look what I ran across today , hidden in a drawer? I know it looks like a wore out apron - but to me this is a magic apron and it is 51 years old! Can you guys remember when you were 8 years old? I can remember this and still feel so much pride and Amazement. I had joined the Brownies and we were making aprons as a project. I could feel the magic ripple through my being as the anticipation of this project filled me with excitement. I wish I could remember the leaders name so I could tell her today how much I appreciated her . She had selected the fabric for us and laid it out. It has selvage edges on the sides so we did not have to sew that. The reason it was magic to me is because we sewed the ribbon to each end of the band and then threaded it back through the casing and when you pull on the white ribbon it would move in like an accordian, then you would grab each end of the band and pull and it would expand back out as wide as the piece of fabric was. We hand sewed the casing and the hem and she topstitched the band. I look at those little hand stitches and am amazed as I remember holding my breath and trying to take as small a stitch as I could so it would almost not be seen on the other side. Another amazing thing to me is that I have EXPANDED a lot in 51 years and yet it still fits me because of this adjustment! The reason I do not remember her name is that I was only allowed into a very few of the meetings because I could not come up with the .20 cents that was required for the dues. I ended up with this apron and ONE SLEEVE of a sweather where she had started to teach us to knit. I still wish I could have finished that project. I guess she will never know how much she impacted my life, but I still send her wishes of love for the effort she put into a troop of little girls.
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Friday, July 10, 2009

A Business Flag

Remember when I had mentioned my friend , Harley - the shoe cobbler who is deaf from birth? I decided to surprise him because he loves surprises - so I designed this flag to display at the front of his cobbler shop . He was overwhelmed with surprise and was SO pleased that he would not put the flag outdoors, he hung it in the picture window of his shop. Harley was one of the kindest, most hard working gentlemen I had ever met. Here he was 82 years of age and still going to his shoe shop every morning to greet his customers and he lived in a busy college town of Blacksburg , Va. where the college of Virginia Tech is located. He was so happy. But then one day - doom descended on this sweet, kind man's life. He got a note from his landlord telling him that he was being kicked out - so the phone company - Verizon could have his small space. After spending his entire life - taking care of the shoes of his community - he was literally a piece of history - just being tossed in the garbage. The man cried like a baby and it almost BROKE my heart. Here it is a year later and Harley is a broken man - if it were not for his dog, I really do not think he would still be with us. He has lost his life purpose and he does not laugh and smile like he used to. When so many people are always trying to get out of work - all Harley wanted to do was still go to his "shoe shop" and have a purpose. Sometimes big business can be so cruel.


I was now learning something new each day and that was one of my Reasons for wanting to learn to sew - I was so scared of some form of dementia and I had read that learning new things constantly challenges your mind - AND- to me sewing was like a puzzle . I was never good at puzzles my whole life and yet here I was tackling some of the biggest puzzles in my lifetime??? I was beginning to think that the "crochet world " had spoiled me - everywhere you look in the world of crochet there are places to find inspiration. I had discovered forums online and there were a million patters , there were crochet magazines of all styles and I had my secret stash of 30 years with patterns of things I had created, plus now you had yarns of all different textures . It was a blast - but with crochet , my shoulder had given up the ghost. I had discovered that I loved to create items for people that they could use and enjoy - so how was I going to pull that off? There were a few magazines, but they talked the lingo way over my head , plus there were no articles about items you could make that people could actually use and be practical. My first thoughts were to just go in a store and LOOK at all the things that others purchase and what they use on a daily basis? I scoured the internet and one of the sites I discovered was called: and the lady who writes for it is named Debbie Colgrove and she is such a nice lady. I wrote to her and she answered me back - here again I almost fell out of my chair! Sewing people were REALLY nice. She had this project for a flag and of course I fell in love. I had always wanted a flag of my own to wave in the breeze at home , so I made a copy of the flag and took it to Lynne and asked her how hard it would be to pull it off. She took me under her wing and she had some beautiful flag fabric and away we went. With her guidance I came out with a beautiful red flag with white hearts on it for Valentines. Then I was inspired and I created twomore of my own designs, one with birds and one with a butterfly. The birds I gave to a friend who lived in a college town and she loved to feed the birds- that made her happy and me happy and my butterfly one I have wore out watching it flap in the breeze - lol.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Some information

Remember when I said I had researched online and run across the site that had the information leading me to my Teacher? I believe that organization ceased to exit, but now there is a group , and this is the address that will take any of you others , searching as I was - for a teacher in your area. I deeply appreciate this group of dedicated folks helping any of us find our way to our dreams.

Now that I had found a dedicated sewing teacher - it felt like my life was being reborn. I was on the right track and that first class was already beyond my wildest dreams. We had studied our machines and I was already amazed. We moved on and did a sampler of all the different stitches our machines could do and instead of a mixture of stitches - I saw a work of art? I was amazed that some human before me had come up with the knowledge to make a machine that could do SO many different things that used to be done entirely by hand!

Our next class was about Learning to Read a pattern - O Man- I do believe that they could write encyclopedias on this subject! Even just the envelope contained a map of future events and if you misread it - as I did - I had to go back and buy Another pattern because I had got the wrong size! As usual - if I did not do it wrong the first time - it would be hard to believe I had tackled a project! But, now at least - I had a guiding light - to shine some insight into my dark creative spot and I would not give up in discouragement.

Then with pattern in hand , Lynne explained how you lay out your pattern and you check the piece numbers against the "view" that you have chosen. I was looking and trying to absorb how this process was going to work and I felt completely overwhelmed - kinda like when my son was a little boy trying to learn T-ball and looked at me and said , " I can Never learn how to do this"! I knew exactly how he felt all those years now past. It felt like my mind was captured in a "brain fog" and the pieces of my puzzle were not falling in place and here was this wonderful teacher and I did not want her to know just how dumb her new student was - considering how smart I had been in school - what had happened to me ???? I was really scared Because I wanted this so badly. But Lynne had patience and I could see her angel wings peek out from behind her back - Very Frequently"!!!!!!!!!!!!! Solid and dotted lines, notches, circles , squares , triangles and X's all swooped before my eyes like a imposing army determined to keep me from my goal! Still we marched on!

Finally we finally tackled our first project - a nice simple fleece pillow . What a relief to my over swollen mind! I LOVED picking out that first fabric - after our discussions on Fabrics- That was my first introduction to the lovely world of fleece. All different colors and all so soft and warm and inviting me to love them all , plus an introduction to pillow forms - which I had never met. Class was a mystic experience of cutting the pieces of the puzzle and letting the machine run those magic threads through that wondrous fabric and turn flat pieces of fabric into something that my family and I could lay our heads on! Wow! Of course we made one in class , but I made 10 at home for Christmas presents for all my children and grandchildren. While we were on the subject of fleece our next project was a fleece hat! Can you imagine taking little triangles and sewing them together , adding a band and having a hat! No more going to the store to grab a hat to keep your head warm in the winter! Whoopee! One of my granddaughters was into the black and white racing Nascar flags , so I made her a black and white hat and she was so thrilled because NONE of her school buddies had one like it - it was a one of a kind and I was hoping she realized that it came from a Granny that loved her and thought of her with every stitch that little Brother machine made, hoping to share a part of me with her. I loved the fleece because it was so forgiving with its ability to stretch as you worked the pieces together! I was amazed when I read that fleece was manufactured from plastic bottles that had been recaptured into a new life - how in the world could something so hard - turn into something so soft and enticing?????????

Just Had to Share With You.

I was visiting a wonderful friends blog , who is an answer to a dream of mine! American girl gone Irish. ! She has allowed me to post a button to her blog and she is having a "give away", so if any of you are as in love with anything Irish as I am I would love to share with you her post:

My Irish Giveaway

It has been a year since I began my blog, and I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people. To celebrate my anniversary, and also passing 10000 hits on my blog, I will be having an Irish Giveaway.

I am giving away:

1. An Irish Tea Cloth that has the Irish blessing on it

2.An Irish Bag with cute sheep on it called a "Rush Hour Bag"

3. A handmade lace embroidered Irish Ornament made by me

4. A FQ Bundle of Irish Tweed Fabrics

5. A Stuffed Sheep with a shamrock on it

6.A FQ of sheep fabric

7. A Classic Quilt Double Irish Chain Pattern

8. An Irish Quilt and Craft Magazine
My givewaway is open to everyone with a blog. It will close on July 21st, and we will have a drawing of the lucky winner on that day. That gives you two weeks to sign up for the giveaway.

How to Play:

1. If you grab my Irish Muses button and put it on your blog, you will get one entry.

2. Then if you tell about my giveaway in a post, you will get another entry.

3. A comment left here will get you another entry.( It must be left here in this post)

4. If you are a follower of my blog already or become a follower of my blog, you will get two extra entries as a thank you for following me.

That means that you can get 5 entries total.

If you can, email me at and tell me how many entries you have gained total, so it makes it easier for me to know how many to submit for you.

Good luck and have fun!

And here is the link to her blog:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Life Waits for Nobody

The years roll by whether you are going "with the flow" or "against the currant". They just don't sit there and wait for you to make up your mind which path you will take. Sometimes it seems like the currents of life just take you along with them and you bob to the surface enough times to keep you surviving. I made a few car seat covers for family members and a by now my baby girl was a young woman who wanted curtains for her first nest . She picked out the fabric and I let the needle and thread do the work and we came out with a set of those curtains that puff up and we stuffed them with newspapers and they looked lovely. (At least to us they did - lol )

Years went by and I took a job working for a paper plant and with my First paycheck I hit the Wal-mart store and laid away a little Brother sewing machine. I did not even take it out of the box - it was like an insurance policy to me! Finally I was free from that monster machine in my past!It had tormented me for almost 30 years! I was determined to see if EVERY sewing machine in the world created "bird nests" on the back of the fabric! But there was not enough time and energy in my life right then - so I hide my new treasure in the closet and waited and waited for what turned out to be two years later.

Time rolled by and brought Helen Compton into my life. She was one of the greatest ladies that I know God ever put on the face of the earth and with her came her brother, Harley. They were in their 80's and Harley still was working Everyday in his little shoe shop that he had worked in ever since he was about 16 - when he was apprenticed to learn the trade, since he was deaf from birth and his father wanted a way his son could survive and support himself. One day Harley had a break down , it was a giant vacuum in his shop that sucked up all the debris from the processes. . It had a giant bag to contain all the mess and it had blowed up. When he checked on how much a new one would be - it was ridiculous ! I pulled out my little sewing machine and Harley and I took sheets and we made him a new Giant bag. What a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, and I discovered that NOT ALL sewing machines Hate you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a wonderful feeling - like I had found my new best friend???????????

This was just about the time that I had met the world of computers! O MY - what an eye-opening experience. My first little computer was like my first sewing machine - very Used and I think it hated me! So, we had many disagreements and Many learning experiences along the way. I don't know if I killed it OR if it just gave up the ghost , But I moved onto my very first New computer - which was like my very first - NEW sewing machine - a dream come true - as far as things working and co-operating with you! As I was surfing the net one night I accidentally ran across a sewing site. UTT - OOO - I was a captive audience as I devoured every detail and finally in little print it talked about sewing teachers and you could click on your state to see if any were available. SURE ENOUGH - a miracle - a teacher about 15 miles from my home????????

I was terrified to send that first e-mail. Thinking I would never have enough money and if she knew what a failure I was - she would boot me out the door. But , you can never know - if you do not try and I was not getting any younger as I was searching - so I pushed that button and sent that little message on its way, while I resigned myself to the thought that I would probably never get a return. Well, as you know - life is just too darn busy for all of us each day - and who in the world would have time to share their knowledge ?????? After all, if they know enough to teach - then they have worked hard to gain what they know - right. Plus, you would have to care about others and also about this craft - we call sewing????

About a day later I opened the computer and low and behold I had a reply! My heart was jumping out of my body - joy flooded right in. This Goddess of Sewing said that we should meet and talk and we planned it for the weekend. By the weekend she had a new gal who had contacted her also and we three met and we two students bought our sewing machine for the first free lesson . My sewing angel introduced us to our Machine! Now for the first time I REALLY got to know my little "insurance policy" and appreciate her. I know she is not worth a million bucks - but to me she was because she worked Perfectly! I believe each machine has her own domain that she rules from. I appreciate Brother for letting me afford a wonderful piece of equipment to learn on and I received much JOY from her. From top to bottom and the ins and outs and my mind could not believe all this new Basic knowledge - but - she topped it off - like icing on a cake with a display of garments she had made in her sewing career . This included all different types of garments with all different types of fabrics - O MY! Fabrics I had never heard of and they all had different properties and I thought my poor little mind would explode with this new knowledge. She had brought us a manual with the layout of her lessons and made it affordable!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could not believe it. She was opening up this Magic World that I had Always wanted to pry open - she was my magic key. I could hardly contain myself with JOY. She was indeed - My Mentor! If only she would let me share in this magic and some of her talents would rub off on me?

I will Never be able to tell you how blessed it is to have a Knowledgeable teacher and a teacher I had found. She was an angel - a perfectionist and when someone like this agrees to share with you - it is a Gift indeed. There is NO WAY I will ever be able to repay her for what she has shared with me. You can say, "Thank you" - but thank you does not even touch base with the gratitude I was feeling in my heart. She was sharing a part of her and my "sewing soul" was being nurtured.