Sunday, September 2, 2012

Thank You

“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow”

~ Swedish Proverb

There are no words to express how much your kindness and concern have meant to me.  I can't tell you how many times, over these last few months, I've gone back and re-read your comments and emails and drawn strength from your words.  

All I can say is "Thank you!" and try to live my thanks by following your examples of friendship and caring.  

It's been a slow and halting climb out of the gloom that was threatening to consume me earlier this year.  But there is enough sun shining in my life now that I find myself missing blogging and, most of all, missing all of you.  :)

And so, I've been trying to decide whether or not to come back to blogging...  and, more specifically, whether or not I should come back to this blog.  

It seems like the blogging part of my life has been organized in stages around my friend Susan.  I started my first blog (The Wedding Dress Saga) to document the process of sewing her wedding dress.  That blog ended naturally when she and Matt were married on March 8, 2008.  

At that point, I wanted to keep blogging, so I started this blog (After the Dress) as a chronicle of my new sewing projects.  It was a wonderful 4 year run, with over 850 posts.  

And then, on March 3rd, 2012, Susan passed away after suffering a completely unexpected stroke several days earlier.  I tried to keep blogging for a while, but my sorrow from the loss of this beautiful young friend of mine - a wife and mother to a 2-year-old son - combined with other challenges in my life at the time, overwhelmed me and I had to cut down on the many commitments in my life while I tried to recover...  

Even though this blog wasn't dedicated specifically to her, it feels like it belongs to a time in my life when Susan was here on this earth - and I could call her up any time, we'd meet for lunch, laugh over toddler stories and share our excitement over new sewing projects...  Coming back here without her just didn't seem right.  

So, after a lot of thinking, I've decided to start a new blog.  

I hope you'll come visit my new blog - while it will be different in some ways from this blog, I'll still be posting about sewing and stories from my ESL classes - and I'll still have pictures of our cats and from our summer vacations.  :)

Regardless of whether or not you decide to join me on my new blog, I want you to know that you have doubled my joys and halved my sorrows over these last few years.  From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

White Flag

No man is defeated without until he is defeated within.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

With all due respect to Eleanor Roosevelt, I am defeated without and within.  A disastrous work trip last week was the final blow.  I know that my life is blessed and many people struggle with much more difficult challenges than I can even imagine, but, for the moment, as Ana sometimes says:

Siento que mi corazón no tiene fuerzas.

Right now, everything is too much for me - even those things that normally bring me joy and strength.  

I'm going to take a break from blogging for a while - hopefully not long, but we'll see...  

Please don't give up on me or forget about me - I know that each of you has a full life and reads lots of blogs and I am just a tiny drop in the bucket - but you are important to me and I don't want to lose you.  

Thank you.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday: Vicarious Vintage 1912

Today's vicarious vintage pattern is a blouse.  Here is the pattern illustration:  

People have had a lot of fun with this pattern.  Msaviano eschewed (woo hoo, big word points for me!) the contrasting fabric shown on the collar and cuffs, and went for binding the collar to make it stand out.  You can see more pictures and read about her version here.  

Karen thought it was the perfect pattern for some striped fabric - look at how she flipped the direction of the stripes on the cuffs.  More here...  

Lisa and Robin used wooden beads to decorate the collar overlay.  Lots more pictures here.  

And check out Theresa's beautiful fabric choices.  More here.

Isn't it amazing how one pattern can lead to such different blouses?  I'm going to do one more post with a skirt - then we'll have been through a whole outfit - slip, blouse, skirt and the option of a wrap or a coat...  ;)

Hopefully, I'll be getting some pictures of my own sewing up SOON!  :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday: Vicarious Vintage 1912

Today's vicarious vintage project is a coat - called a duster.  Here is the pattern illustration:  

Not so many people have finished their coats yet, but there are two to show you:  

Sharon used a raw silk for the coat and a crushed velvet for the trim.  You can see lots more pictures on her blog, here.  

Toby used a heavy cotton duck for his version.  Again, visit his blog, here, to see and read more...  

Oh man, I really wish I was at home sewing...  This weekend will be taken up by taxes, but hopefully I can at least put together the three, little 2T skirts I've got cut out - after all, two of those babies are due within a month!  ;)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday: Vicarious Vintage 1912

For today's Vicarious Vintage, I'm showing the wrap that Maddie should be wearing...  Here is the pattern cover illustration:  

Melodyejoy has finished this muslin of the pattern and provided detailed modifications to the 100-year-old pattern instructions here.  

ELMO made this gorgeous version - you should see how beautifully she matched the fabric designs on the back center seam!  And you can, here!  ;)

One more picture for you - take a look at Meredith's beautiful version of this wrap!  You can see more pictures and read about her experience here.  

These projects are really inspiring and the blog posts are full of helpful information - I can't wait to get to Maddie's wrap!  :)

Finally, if you want still more, check out the main page on the official project blog here.  

I hope everyone is having a good week with time for sewing!  :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday: Vicarious Vintage 1912

I spent the weekend on a family trip and am now off to San Diego for a work trip.  The cobwebs continue to multiply on my sewing machine and I am feeling more and more anxious to get back to it...  :(

In the meantime, I thought I'd share some of the Vintage 1912 projects that others have been working on.  (Poor Maddie is still in her modern, lilac linen shift...)

Today's vicarious vintage pattern is a Princess Slip from the March 24, 1912 issue of La Mode Illustree.  Here is the pattern illustration:

I've got three "teaser" shots of three versions of the pleated ruffle along the bottom for you.  First up, from CostumeDeeva:  

Next, a more minimalist pleat from Madame Mermet

Finally, a gloriously petite pleat from Chopkins:  

Follow any of the links above to see more about the construction of these three beautiful versions of the Princess Slip.  And, for even more slips, you can start on this page of the VPLL official blog

I'll try to get a Vicarious Vintage 1912 post up each day this week.  Hopefully, by next weekend, I can get back to my own sewing!  Until then, all my best for all of you!  :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Talk Back Thursday

Thank you so much to Elaina, Gwen, Becky, Mary, Linda, Carla and Shelia for talking back to my confession last week!  I confessed that I was teetering on the edge of purchasing a die cut machine - mainly to cut felt silhouettes to decorate my doll houses - and asked for advice.  

Let's see...  How do I summarize the comments?  A polarizing issue? Somewhat controversial?  Pistols at dawn?  

I'll just say that there didn't appear to be much middle ground.  ;)

(Okay, okay - that's probably my fault - it IS kind of a yes-or-no question...)  

Anyways, I got some very strong "walk away!" votes and some really enthusiastic "go for it!" votes.  

And, as always, I got some very thoughtful advice: Don't buy it unless and until I am sure that it's something I won't regret.  Some suggested that I make sure that I will have lots of uses for the machine - and not just a half dozen doll houses...  ;)

Others indicated that sometimes, even if you don't use something all the time, if it does something important and you love having that capability, it's worth having.  :)

Two specific machines were called out - Cricut and Silhouette - with positive reviews.  And one issue that was mentioned was making sure that you can create your own designs, and not being restricted to buying cartridges.  

So, you have given me lots of good things to think about!  Thanks so much!  I'll let you know what I decide after I obsess about it for a while...  ;)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In the Queue Wednesday

So much has been going on lately - some good things, some bad things - but I've been feeling like my life is out of control.  With the party behind us, the next thing in my queue is to have life settle back into its normal (albeit busy) routine...  Wish me luck!  ;)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Party Pictures!

Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave and impossible to forget.
~ Unknown

Sunday night was Ana's going-away party.  It was seven intense hours of setting up, partying, and cleaning up.  Here are some pictures for you:

We rented a beautiful room and decorated it in blues and pinks.  Half of the tables had balloon centerpieces.

And the other half had these (artificial) floral arrangements.

We hung accordion-style lanterns over the dance floor.

Here's a view of the room from the other side.

In the background of the picture above, you can make out this sign:

Notice the butterfly decals on the windows?

We also set up a special table for the children, with small toys, coloring books and crayons.

One of the main activities of the night was picture taking.  We set up a photo area (complete with butterflies) and most everyone had pictures taken with Ana.  We printed 2 copies of each picture - one for the guest and one for Ana's photo album.  People also wrote notes to Ana on colored index cards, which we included with their pictures in her album.

Here is a shot of Christine, our intrepid photographer, with Ana - Christine and her husband worked miracles to get the pictures taken, printed and distributed throughout all the chaos!

My picture with Ana:

My husband's picture with Ana:  

For the children's table, I printed a bunch of butterfly coloring pages onto pieces of card stock - we saved the pictures that the children colored to put in Ana's album too!

(I stood behind Christine when she was taking this picture and made faces and acted silly and put bunny ears on Christine - but I could not get that little girl to crack a smile for anything...  Apparently, in her world, picture-taking is a very serious business.)  

Ana didn't spend ALL of her night in front of the bed sheet - she was able to get around and talk with her guests.  You can also see here in the background that we had a D.J. - services volunteered for Ana.  :)

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the food - but there was a huge buffet table groaning with chicken and mole, tamales, rice and beans and other delicious foods.  All made by hand with love by Ana's friends.

And we had a cake for dessert.

It looks big, doesn't it?  By the end of the night there was not a single piece left!  ;)

Oh, and if you are wondering about her dress, she couldn't make up her mind between wearing her fuchsia dress or her blue dress, so she decided to change half-way through the party and wear them both!  ;)

Finally, my camera has about 80 shots like these:  

Pictures of Ana and the people who love her....  

It was a very special night for everyone!  :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend Project: The Party

I am thankful for the mess to clean after a party 
because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
~ Nancie J. Carmody

Tonight is Ana's "Vaya Con Dios" (going-away) party, and I'm expecting quite a mess to clean up afterwards!  We sent out about 60 of these invitations:

And based on our RSVP count, we're expecting about 150 people to show up!  Yikes!  

If I recall my wedding reception correctly, we also had a factor of 2 involved between invitees and attendees, but it was in the opposite direction!  ;)

The colors are pink (or, as Ana constantly corrects me, "fuchsia") and blue.  

The theme is butterflies.

After the New Year's Eve I-know-I'm-busy-but-I'll-still-be-able-to-sew-my-dress debacle, I sprung for a store-bought party dress this time.  ;)

I normally go for more color, but the party is about Ana.  So I'm happy to let her be in the spotlight.  :)

Throwing the party is a truly a team effort of love.  Scott and I are providing the room, the decorations and the cake - others are providing the music (2 volunteer D.J.s) and food.  I'm not sure if the group of 5 women knew what they were getting into when they agreed to make the food - I don't think anyone expected 150 guests!  

Luckily, no one was at home when I called with the final party count and I was able to just leave apologetic voice messages...  I know, I'm chicken!  ;)

Don't worry, I'll have tons of pictures for you next week!  

In the meantime, I hope everyone is having a wonderful sewing weekend.  :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Confession

I am considering doing something a bit crazy...  ("Not for the first time", her husband grumbles affectionately...)  

I'm considering buying a die cut machine (of some sort) to cut felt decorations for my fabric doll houses...  

What do you think?  Major overkill, right?  Does anyone out there have one?  Any advice for me?  (BTW, "Back away from the BUY NOW button" counts as advice!)  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In the Queue Wednesday

As you know, I've made a couple of doll houses using the pattern from the One Yard Wonders book and I offered up 5 custom-made doll houses for the silent auction that raised money for my friend Susan's husband and son.  

I was hoping for some fun, creative assignments, and I think I've got them!  

I do have a request for one relatively standard doll house - with a request for vibrant colors and two Labrador retrievers.  This will be fun and I'm going to focus on getting all the sides to line up perfectly!  

I have two requests for barns, which I plan to populate with these Fisher Price farm animals:  
I'm thinking to do bright red barns with black roofs, white doors, yellow haystacks and fun signs painted on the sides, like they used to do before bill boards.  Remember those?  

I have a request for a mail box similar to this existing product - this project will be the most creative in terms of modifying the pattern.  I've got some ideas for making the mail box shape and having little boxes that can open and close and are big enough to fit a couple of Hershey's kisses.  ;)

Finally, the project that will be most creative in the decorating component, is the Super Hero "lair" for Batgirl and Superman!  It's going to be a blast to decorate that one!  

It may be a couple of weeks, as all of my spare time right now is going towards Ana's party next Sunday, but don't worry, I'll get to these!  They're in the queue...  :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Weekend Project: Winners!

You'll have to excuse Oliver - he is beside himself with excitement over the announcement of the winners of my blog's 4th birthday give-away...  ;)

You know how cats can be...  ;)

As always, I find these give-aways bitter-sweet, because I read all the wonderful comments and wish that I could give something to every single one of you...  As soon as I win the lottery, I promise!  ;)

For now, I'm going to have to stick to 4 winners.  And those randomly drawn names are:

#2 - Vintagegal
#15 - Mimi O
#19 - SewSue
#30 - Simona

Congratulations!  Please email me at and we'll coordinate the details...  

Thank you again, to everyone for being supportive and patient - it means more to me than I can express...  


Saturday, March 17, 2012


I know I owe you some posts...  :(

There's a lot going on right now and some of it is pretty difficult, but don't give up on me.  

I'll announce the winners of my blog birthday give-away tomorrow and I'll get back on track soon.  

Major things on the horizon:
2) my silent auction items - so far, 1 doll house, 2 barns & 1 mail box
3) Ana's going away party (next weekend)

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a wonderful sewing weekend.  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In the Queue Wednesday

We are having a silent auction to raise money for Susan's family.  She was very active in a number of local communities that involved new mothers - including Get PUMPed, Mila Mommy, and ICAN of Orlando.  So, I figured that lots of people bidding in the auction are going to have small children.  And so I'm hopeful that my contribution - 5 custom-made doll houses (or similar) - will be popular and bring in a respectable amount of money.  

I'm also kind of looking forward to making some different ones - fingers crossed that some Mama will want a fire station or zoo for her toddler boy...  

I'll let you know what kind of requests I get and show you my progress.  Don't worry, I'll get to them!  They're in the queue...  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Morning Quarterback

The power of little things to give instruction and happiness should be the first lesson in life, and it should be inculcated deeply.  
~ Russell H. Conwell

I found the energy and spirit to do some sewing this weekend.  I stuck with something simple and joyful - pinafores for the daughters of my friends...  

Adalyn - the daughter of a big football fan...

The pinafore pattern comes from the One Yard Wonders book.  

Evie, the daughter of a Steeler's fan!  ;)

The pinafore is open in the back, except for the ribbon tie, and is meant to be worn over other clothes.  

And Lena, the daughter of a woman who loves penguins!  

Note that the pinafores are size 2T, and the girls are all younger than 8 months old, so you might say I'm jumping the gun a bit...  ;)

Given that the pattern is so simple, I tried to pay special attention to the details - french seams, 3 rows of basting stitches to gather the skirt, and careful stitching-in-the-ditch to attach the skirt to the bodice.  

It was peaceful and, as some of you have suggested, I found some comfort in immersing myself in the simple, well-known steps.  Thank you again for all the kind words and thoughts during these last difficult weeks.  

I hope you had a wonderful sewing weekend!