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!  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blog Birthday - Four Years Old Today

To celebrate the 4th anniversary of my blog AND my participation in the 1912 Titanic sewing project at the same time, I will be giving away:

(a) 4 year-long memberships to the Vintage Pattern Lending Library - so that you can try some of the 1912 patterns for yourself!  


(b) 4 books on historical fashion sewing.  And not just any books - but books by Frances Grimble, a leading author in this area.  Here are just some of her covers:  

You can read more about these books at the Lavolta Press website...

 or even on (cue gasp)!  ;)

Each of the four, randomly drawn winners will get an annual membership to the Vintage Pattern Lending Library AND be able to select the Frances Grimble book of her (or his) choice.  

To enter, just leave a comment on this post with your name, before midnight EST on 17 March 2012 (next Saturday).  

Good luck to everyone!  

And extra special thanks to those of you who have been with me since the beginning...  :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Story of Susan

Written for Andrew

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess named Susan.  Everyone in the Kingdom loved Princess Susan, because not only was she beautiful, but she was also strong and brave, smart, loving and – sometimes – just a tiny bit silly!  Everywhere she went she brought sunshine and laughter.  Everyone she met became a friend. 

Now, there are lots of stories about princesses out there and they all say that their princesses are special.  But Princess Susan was the most special of them all.  What made Princess Susan so special? 

Well, for one thing, she was strong and brave.  She could ride her Royal Bicycle through the Royal Forest as fast as the wind – and she wasn’t even afraid of the wolves.  She could climb the tallest mountains and touch the clouds – and she wasn’t afraid of falling.  She could ride the wild waves of the ocean on her Royal Surfboard - and she wasn’t afraid of the sharks.  And she kept her body strong by lifting weights and doing yoga in the Royal Gym. 

For another thing, she loved animals.  She had two Royal Kitty Cats, named Teva and Ziggy.  I’ll tell you a secret – sometimes Princess Susan spoiled those kitty cats, but they were good cats and they loved her very much. 

And everything that Princess Susan did, she did well.  Princess Susan was so smart that she went to the Royal University and became a Royal Engineer.  She loved reading and kept her Royal Car, named Bunny, full of books from the Royal Library.  And she was so good with computers that soon everyone in the Kingdom knew about her Royal Spreadsheets and the Royal Websites that she made. 

Princess Susan also loved to sew, and she made lots of wonderful things with her Royal Sewing Machine.  She could make magic things – she made magic quilted bags for her friends and family that were always full of love.  And she made magic shirts for the knights who were fighting in a war far away.  The shirts helped keep them cool in the hot desert sun and protected them from harm. 

Now, one day, when Princess Susan was practicing her mountain climbing in the Royal Gym, she met a knight, named Sir Matthew.  Sir Matthew was a very special knight in the Kingdom.  He didn’t have a horse – instead, he had a Royal Hound, named Brix.  And every day and every night, Sir Matthew and Brix would patrol the Kingdom, looking for bad guys.  When they found a bad guy, they would put him in jail, so that everyone in the Kingdom could be safe and happy.  It was a dangerous job, but Sir Matthew and Brix were very strong and very brave and they kept the people of the Kingdom safe. 

Of course, Sir Matthew took one look at the beautiful Princess Susan and immediately fell under her magic spell.  And, of course, Princess Susan took one look at the strong, handsome and brave Sir Matthew and immediately fell in love with him.  So, it was no surprise to anyone, when Sir Matthew asked Princess Susan to marry him, and she said yes. 

The wedding of Princess Susan and Sir Matthew was the biggest and most wonderful event in the whole Kingdom.  Everyone came to celebrate and there was joy and happiness throughout the land as they became King Matthew and Queen Susan. 

But the joy of the wedding was nothing compared to the joy when Queen Susan and King Matthew welcomed their baby boy, Prince Andrew, into the world.  And while Queen Susan was good at everything that she had done in her whole life, when she had her baby boy, Prince Andrew, she found her most special passion – being a mama.  And every minute that she wasn’t taking care of her husband, King Matthew, or her baby, Prince Andrew, she spent helping other mamas and their babies in her Kingdom. 

Queen Susan and Prince Andrew went everywhere together and did everything together.  They went to a magic land called Amaya Papaya, where everything was small, just the right size for Prince Andrew to play with.  They had play dates at the Royal Park with Princess Lyla and the Princess Sisters CeCe and Frannie.  They went to the Royal Zoo and played in the Royal Water Fountains and fed the Royal Goats.  They played in the Royal Chik-Fil-A Playground where everyone has to take off their shoes – and sometimes Prince Andrew tried to put on other children’s shoes!  And they went to another magic land called the Grow and Sing Studio, where Prince Andrew learned to play music and dance and sing.  And everywhere they went, they smiled and laughed and had fun together. 

And Prince Andrew grew, tall and strong and brave like his father, King Matthew; with a warm, open and loving spirit – and just a tiny bit silly! – like his mother, Queen Susan.  And Queen Susan and King Matthew and the Royal Hound, Brix, and the Royal Kitty Cats, Teva and Ziggy – they all loved their Prince Andrew with all their hearts. 

One day, God realized that there were a lot of babies up in Heaven who needed a mama to take care of them.  And He searched the entire world for the very best mama that he could find.  Of course, Queen Susan was the best mama, with the biggest heart and the most love, so God decided to bring her to Heaven to care for those babies. 

Queen Susan didn't want to go.  She wanted to stay with King Matthew and Prince Andrew.  But God said that they were strong and had each other, and He promised Queen Susan that she could become an angel and watch over them and take care of them from Heaven. 

And so now, Queen Susan is up in heaven, taking care of all those babies that don’t have their mamas with them – but she still loves her King Matthew and her Prince Andrew best of all.  And she watches over them and takes care of them and sends good things and good people into their lives every chance she gets.  And she will be with them forever and she will never stop loving them.  Her love is forever and ever. 

The End.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Confession

As I mentioned in my post on Wednesday, I offered to make Andrew a quilt from some of his Mother's clothes.  

My confession - I've never made a quilt.  :(

So, what about you?  Do you quilt?  If not, why not?  If yes, I'd love to hear about your quilting experiences - especially any "first timer" stories.  Finally, have you ever made a memorial quilt?  I'd really appreciate any advice.  Thank you!  :)

Photo credit: Quilting

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Talk Back Thursday

Duck Tape Prom Outfit!
Thanks for the link, Sarah!  :)

Photo Credit: Stuck-At-Prom

Thank you so much to BConky, Shannon, Patsijean, Debbie, Katie, Sarah, Becky, Elaina and CostumeDeeva for talking back to my confession last week!  I've decided to try to make some bloomers out of bed sheets, and asked what other unusual materials people have used in their sewing.

Reader's Digest Condensed Version of the responses: You guys are one creative bunch.  ;)

The most popular non-standard materials called out were curtains (and the legacy of Scarlett O'Hara lives on...), table cloths and bed sheets.  A few people mentioned using these items to create regular, everyday clothes.  For example, Patsijean recently made her grandson a nice, casual shirt out of a curtain - she said it was a loose, nubby cotton - really nice, but prone to unraveling.  

Many of the stories of creative sewing with creative materials had to do with costumes or unusual garments.  

Believe it or not, there were two stories associated with religious clothing!  BConky made real vestments for a friend of hers who is a priest, and Shannon made this costume priest's shawl with cross-stitched pictures of Dean Stockwell with a halo!  

Becky made this gypsy costume for a Renaissance Fair from an eclectic collection of thrift store finds, including a bed sheet, tablecloth AND curtain panel.  You can see more pictures on her blog, here.  

Sarah also used a table cloth as part of a Renaissance dress.  (And now I'm just showing off that I can spell the word "renaissance")  

One of Katie's favorite costumes was made from a super soft sheet, and BConky always smiles when she thinks of the Glenda costume (the good witch from the Wizard of OZ) that she made for a 6' 3" XXL man!  

Other unusual sewing projects mentioned included:

Becky tried to recycle a leather trench coat into a bag - but her sewing machine wasn't very cooperative...

Debbie repaired a friend's vinyl camper awning - she said that she had to set up her sewing machine in the driveway and it took 6 extra people to help her control the awning as she sewed, because it was so heavy - yikes, that's friendship!  

And Elaina used 4 Army sand bags (at $0.50 each!) to stitch up a tarp for her Mom's ferret cage - Army sand bags are a Project Runway challenge-worthy material!  ;)

Finally, CostumeDeeva - a new FL friend from the 1912 project - created a corset from an old t-shirt, and old dress shirt, shoe laces and aluminum pop tops!  Is this amazing, or what?  

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to leave an example - I really enjoyed reading your stories and seeing your pictures.

And special thanks for all the kind words about Susan and her family.  It may seem like only a little thing to you, but it actually makes a difference and means a lot to me.  Thank you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In the Queue Wednesday

Tonight is Susan's Memorial Service.  When someone you love dies, you search for things to do, for ways to help...  I offered to make Andrew a quilt from some of his Mom's clothes, so that he could feel wrapped in her arms each night in his bed.  Matt is going to get me some of the clothes that she wore when she was pregnant with him.  This project will be on par with sewing her wedding dress four years ago - far from perfection, but full to the brim with love...

Photo Credit: Orlando Sentinel

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weekend Project: The World Keeps Turning...

...whether we want it to or not.  :(

It was so odd to see that my pre-written, scheduled posts came up during this past week - I had completely forgotten about them...  

A week ago I would have been thrilled to receive my first assignment for the 1912 Titanic Sewing Project.    While I was in the hospital, sitting by Susan's bedside, I received this "Afternoon Wrap".  

It's a good first assignment for me - only a couple of pattern pieces and probably not that fit-critical.  

Of course, Mattie is going to look silly with a 1912 wrap over her current simple, modern shift dress.  But eventually she'll have a complete 1912 wardrobe...  

Just like, eventually, I'll find the energy and the spirit to join the world as it keeps turning.  

Thank you to everyone for your kind words over these last few days - please keep Susan's family in your thoughts and prayers.  

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Here is one of the worst things about having someone you love die: 
it happens again every single morning.  
~ Anna Quindlen

Susan, Andrew and Matt

Photo credit: Cristy Nielsen

You can read the photographer's tribute to Susan here.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Confession

Photo credit: Costumes of Nashua

Remember this classic Carol Burnett spoof on the Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara dress made from curtains?  

I've never made clothes out of curtains, but I've made a purse out of juice bags and I'm getting ready to make bloomers out of bed sheets!  

And that leads me to my question for this week: What is the most unusual thing that you have ever sewn with?  I'd love to see pictures, if you can leave a link!  :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Special Request

Years ago, we became friends with an amazing young woman, Susan.  We met at a rock climbing gym and played a significant role in her meeting Matt.  (Now, the falling in love part is all HIS doing!)  

Here are the 4 of us, and a friend from Italy, at our climbing gym.  Susan and Matt are on your left.  

Susan and Matt fell in love and got married...  

And Susan paid me the most singular honor of trusting me to make her wedding dress.  

A couple of years later, they were joined by the most adorable young man, Andrew.  Here he is at his first birthday party:  

You may have been able to predict where the story was going up until now.  But no one could have predicted what happened on Monday.  Out of the blue, Susan suffered a massive stroke.  To date, neither medication nor surgery to remove a piece of her skull have been able to prevent the swelling from impacting other areas of her brain, including her brain stem.  

She is currently lying in a hospital bed, unresponsive, with medicines controlling her blood pressure, a machine controlling her breathing, and a special type of blanket controlling her body temperature - while her husband keeps vigil, holding her hand, and her two-year old son plays with toys in the children's waiting room...  

Her friends have set up a website where you can leave a message of love and support or read stories about Susan written by just some of the many people who love her.  Every day, her husband reads those messages and those stories to her, believing that she can hear them and will feel the strength and outpouring of love traveling through the internet.  

Here is the website:

Please keep this family in your hearts, your thoughts and your prayers.  If you feel moved to do so, please leave them a message - every single message speaks to their hearts and gives them strength.  And don't forget to kiss your husband, your parents, your children, and tell them that you love them.  Thank you.