12.07.2017

A little update

Sometimes it's a good thing to be quiet on social media.....
Table Rock Mountain, with smaller Stool Mtn. to right
looking across Pinnacle Lake
Table Rock State Park, South Carolina
  To take long walks with a sweet friend.....
Lakeside Trail with Suzi
Table Rock State Park, South Carolina
To sort of re-group...
Table Rock Mountain
looking across Lake Oolenoy
South Carolina
Say good-bye to a sweet pup.....
Who was a model for my entries to Lily Pad Quilting's 'Pets on Quilts Show' for a couple of years.... We  won a sponsored gift in 2014!
She was Melissa's dog.  All 6 pounds of her held her own on the trails well.  Most folks around here hike with labradors and large dogs.
Our family 2010 Christmas card.  Standing on the Natural Bridge in Keowee-Toxaway State Park on a c-c-c-cold winter's day.
Biking the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, SC, 2013.  Towa created such attention it was hard to actually ride our bikes!!  Melissa is very sad right now as she'd had Towa almost half her own life.  Towa was 11, completely blind with a collapsed trachea and tumor growing on her heart and stomach.  So very hard to say good-bye, but it was time to love her enough to let her go.
There's also been the obligatory annual cold that tends to knock one's feet out from under them, as well as simply a lot of family responsibilities needing to be managed.  So this morning, knowing I wanted to walk Suzi on the Doodle Trail..... my own little town's Rail-to-Trails project.... I sort of struggled with the thought of capturing a photo to re-enter the IG world.  For me, once you are out of the 'loop' of IG, it's sort of hard to jump back in.  Anyway, it was determined today would be a photo day which meant tripod and Nikon D3300.  As Suzi and I walked to this pretty spot on this very gray, cloudy, misty, moisty morning, we passed a couple of very nice women who were walking together.  All said 'hello' to each other and kept walking.  As I was setting up the tripod/camera they had turned around and were walking back my way when seeing the camera they stopped and asked me what I was doing.  As you all know by now, I am so NOT comfortable taking photographs in public around other people, but in this case I smiled and told them I sewed my clothes and had a blog and IG account that linked me with the international sewing community that I love.  With that one of the ladies said she sewed and boy oh boy did that trigger about an hour's conversation and exchange of phone numbers!!  And it gets even better...... turns out she's my neighbor, 2 'doors' down my very street!!!  Seriously!!!  Living in the country on larger tracts of land, one doesn't always know their immediate neighbors, particularly like us as we were not born and raised here.   I've been wishing for a walk/hike/sewing friend and feel God blessed me this day.  And all because I set my tripod/camera up for a photo because I'd been missing my international sewing friends!!
Now I feel re-energized and ready to sew some of the items on my list.  So very far behind in my Fall/Winter sewing, but shall not let that deter me.  Will share more next post.  It feels great to be back!

Happy Sewing Everyone!  :)

10.20.2017

State Fair Blue Ribbon Winners

Have you ever thought about entering your handmade garments in your local and/or state fair?  It wasn't until an IG friend attended her state fair photographing and discussing some of the exhibits that a lightbulb moment went off in my head and by the end of that day I'd registered 3 of my best works in our South Carolina State Fair.
After reviewing the Fair's "Criteria for Judging Sewing", below, it was interesting to sort through my wardrobe to choose what I thought might be 'worthy of competition'.

CRITERIA FOR JUDGING SEWING 
Overall beauty (coordination of color and accessories such as buttons, plaid matching, trims) 
Creativity (pattern changes and originality) 
Stitching (machine and hand) Seam finishes 
Construction techniques (buttonholes, zippers, fastenings, sleeve set, collar and neckline details,hem details) 
Lining and interfacings

The Pilvi Jacket, with its hong kong and enclosed seams, striking yellow gingham handmade bias tape to complement the golden dandelions, top-stitching, mitered front corners..... immediately came to mind.  There's really quite of lot going on in this simple unlined jacket.
The next garment chosen was another recent make McCall's 7509 lyocell fabric top with its lovely shawl collar, invisibly finished hand-sewn interior shoulder seam closures and those simple pearl buttons that finishes this little top perfectly.
Carolyn's Dress Newlook 6261 was my final choice as this dress was also finished with extra care.  Custom fitted to my body shape, lined with Bemberg lining from Japan, covered hem seams, blind-hem stitched on the machine and of course the beautiful fabric from Carolyn this dress is well-made.  Even though I've made quite a few garments in this past year, (the time frame for qualifying for entry), I just did not feel there was anything else at the skill level I wanted to show for competition.  So these were what I entered.
Our South Carolina State Fair is held in our state's capital city, Columbia, a 2 1/2 hour drive one-way from where I live in the mountainous northwest corner......
Photo Credit
.....so my sweet husband took the day off work to drive me down on the day the Fair required the entries.  He was also nice enough to snap this photo as we were leaving so I could show you the garment bag I made to transport my entries.  A fun project that took about an afternoon's time, I'll write a blog post soon sharing more details.
A few days after the items were received, they were judged.  Also I need to add that the items were judged on their own merits according to the standards laid out in the Criteria above.  No photographs of them being worn, no information about them in any way other than fabric content..... it was simply a number on a ticket and that was it.  Anyway, all this takes place before the Fair begins, because once the Fair begins all items are considered exhibits and are displayed as such and cannot be removed.   You sign an agreement stating that items entered will not be picked up until after the fair is over.  Thankfully the Fair posts the judging results on their website so imagine my delight to see all three items placed First!  The numbers to the far right denote the prize monies awarded too.  :)
It was important to me to see how the items were displayed at the Fair, as well as see what others had entered in the same categories, so this past weekend my sweet husband drove us back to the Fairgrounds while it was in full swing.  Oh what a fun day we had!  So many people having a good time, so many rides and games, so much yummy food, barns full of animals and a building full of textiles, woodworking, artwork and other craft items.  This is how they had the Pilvi Jacket and Carolyn's Dress displayed.

It took me a while to find the top as it was tucked away in a glass display case.  As we walked every inch of the building housing the textiles, it was clear there were not many items entered in the Garment categories.  Lots of quilts, knitted and crochet items like afghans and throws...... but all the garment categories had weak participation.  Though disappointed, I was not surprised.  In my area of the state, quilting is VERY popular.... with garment sewing almost nil.  This sentiment must run statewide.
The Palmetto Tree is our state tree and it was fun to see those trees growing in the middle of all the Fair Fun!
Though this has been an extraordinarily fun experience for me, I have to admit it's been a LOT of driving back and forth.  My sweet husband has even taken another day off this upcoming week to take me back down to pick up my garments.  There's no problem my driving myself, it's just nice to be with him.  Meanwhile I'm looking forward to getting my garments back as I've been wanting to wear them!!!

Happy Sewing All!  :)

10.13.2017

Yellow Brick Road to Oklahoma Baby Quilt

Ye olde' blog may have been a bit quiet, but there's been a whole lot of sewing going on!

A recent addition of a sweet baby girl to the family prompted the making of a couple of things so we'll begin with the quilt.

The family lives in Oklahoma, so the historic Road to Oklahoma quilt block seemed perfect.   I've made this block before and it's a fun block to not only make, but see the visuals as it begins to come together.
As the quilt began to take shape..... as the quilt's story began to unfold..... it became clear this was no ordinary Road to Oklahoma.... it would be the Yellow Brick Road to Oklahoma.  Do you see 'Oz' there in the middle?  I used different fabrics in those half square triangles with white in the center for embroidering birth info.  This is a photo below of the quilt top.... before sandwiching and quilting.  I decided to embroider the baby's name, birthdate and that I loved her in that center area using the fonts on my Bernina.  It's not the prettiest embroidery, but I'm glad to have that capability.  I did the embroidery before sandwiching everything together as I did not want the backside of the embroidery to show through on the quilt's finished back.
You can see a little of the embroidery here, below, though for privacy purposes I've pretty much blocked it out!  Sorry!  Anyway, this is how I set the quilt up for quilting after all was sandwiched together.  This time I wanted my quilting lines to go diagonally.
Love, love, love the gently curving elongated stitch I used on this quilt.  Easy to line up with each square's corners and I didn't stress about exactness as the curves are very forgiving.
Took a quick photo of the settings of my machine to show you how I set this stitch up and Oops!  forgot to show the actual stitch.....
 .....but found an old photograph for the Settings for the Baby Boy 'Bugs' Quilt that are quite similar.  Looks like I just shortened the zigzag width for this quilt.
Finished quilt measured a little less than 36" x 36" as it shrunk considerably after washing and drying.  I always wash and dry my quilts before gifting because not only does it bring out all the quilting goodness, but I want to catch any problems before giving away.
Wanting soft pink, whites and golden yellow, my stash did not produce enough scraps so all the golden yellow, whites and most of the pinks are the Waverly fabric brand from Wal-Mart.  This was my first time using this brand of 100% cotton and have to say it turned out quite nice.
The back was a bit of Classic Pooh I picked up at a local textile outlet store and I loved it! 
The baby's sweet mother had picked out Classic Pooh for the nursery, and even though this is not what she had chosen, thought it might go well with the whole Pooh theme.
And tried a new-technique-to-me by self-binding this quilt.  Completely by accident, as I was beginning to trim the backing back to bias tape bind the quilt, I realized I had prepped enough of a hang-over to self-bound.  A quick Google search of 'how-to' and within minutes it was done.
Love it!  So, so easy and you don't have to worry about catching the back of the bias-tape binding on the back with your stitching or taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r to set all that up.
Item #2 was a Baby Blanket.  I'd picked up this fun flannel print of ice-skating polar bears because the baby's father is a big hockey player.  My sweet cousin led me in the direction of Missouri Star Quilting Company's video of self-bound baby blanket using minky fabric..... though mine is a pure white fuzzy furry-ish fleece again from WalMart.  Living in a small, rural town I very much appreciate that my local Wal-Mart has a fabric department!!  And yes, I am on first-name basis with the lady who runs the fabric department.  She is oh-so-nice and we always visit a little while having fabric cut.  Back to the blanket construction..... let me warn you this is a pain to get everything all lined up nice and neat.  My furry fleece wanted to move and slink all over the place.  The instructions were easy to follow..... it was more my slinky fabric that was the problem.  There is where the perfectionist me had to step back and say it was 'good enough'.
Thought it'd be easier to embed the video I used here because Jenny with Missouri Star Quilt Co. has actually done 2 different versions of a self-binding baby blanket and the one I used was her second, updated one.  I love her videos!!!

So the baby now has ice-skating polar bears along with the Yellow Brick Road to Oklahoma.  Hope they might keep her warm and know that her family members in South Carolina love her.
Happy Sewing All!  :)

9.06.2017

Nancy Zieman writes a personal Goodbye note to us

Tears are flowing as I write this post.  Behind in reading my favorite blogs, I just found out today Nancy Zieman has written a Time to Say Goodbye - a Personal Note from Nancy.  She explains that she has recently found out the cancer that was detected in 2015 has spread and is untreatable.  Please take the time and stop by the link above and leave a note to her.  We are losing a classy, intelligent, talented member of our sewing community.  I've learned so much from her and been inspired from the way she has chosen to live her life and run her business.  Her autobiography 'Seams Unlikely' is worth purchasing and reading.  I treasure my copy.
I love you Nancy and am praying for you and your family.

8.21.2017

Lyocell White Top | McCall's Vintage Pattern 7509

Having wanted a new white top for what seems like aaaaages, it may be the end of summer but am loving this one to pieces! 
A simple little thing really, but checks off all the boxes of a classic top to me.
Before we talk patterns and fabric, first let me share the story behind this cute top, as every handmade garment seems to have a story to tell.  The Upstate South Carolina county where I live, has a lot of needs.  A few years ago a group of Christians felt led to form a non-profit faith-based group called The Dream Center to do something to help the homeless by giving them a 'hand-up', not a 'hand-out'.  Their methods have shown success, and they have recently built a small subdivision of tiny houses called Opportunity Village where the homeless, and people in need, can live while they take classes to learn necessary 'life' skills, find employment and get on their feet.  They are funded by donations and their Resale Centers, i.e. thrift stores,  one of which opened up in my little town recently.  A few weeks ago I decided to stop in and check it out..... and boy am I glad I did!
You know how there are great thrift stores, and not-so-great thrift stores?  This is a good one and I lucked out and found the vintage pattern McCall's 7509 in my size for all of 10 cents!  Thrill!  For 10 cents I did not take the time to check out the pattern tissue until I got home, and incredibly all the pieces were there and in great condition.  Someone had already carefully cut them out, so this top swept to the top of the queue and was started that very same day. Not sure about the 'Make it Tonight, Wear it Tomorrow' slogan there, but it was done in a couple of days which is pretty quick for me.  I made a size 10 with no modifications other than sewing 3/8" seam allowances at the side seams.  As a note... the markings were made with tracing wheel and yellow marking paper which did leave marking lines on the fabric that thankfully all washed out.  As soon as I finished the top it went in the washing machine and I held my breath!
Here's a better view of the line drawings.  The description reads "Buttoned blouse A, B or C has extended shoulders forming cap sleeves.  Blouse with revers and C with shawl collar have slit in sleeve seam."  Oooookay, what in the world is 'revers'?  Thinking it was some sort of typo it was interesting to learn Google defines it as meaning 'the turned back edge of a garment revealing the undersurface, especially at the lapel'.  Initially cut out View B with the revers collar and no slits in the sleeve seams, then changed my mind and found it ever so easy to cut out the shawl collar from view c.  The 2 front and back darts are optional, but that was a big draw for me.  My waist is small and these darts help tremendously with a good fit for me.
With a 1981 copyright date, it reminded me of some favorite tops I wore back then.  At the same time it also gave me pause because I didn't want to wear a top that looked 'dated'.  In the end decided it had a classic vibe and was delighted to find it made up as such. 
Wearing it untucked here to show you how the top lays and found I really like wearing it this way!  Love those front and back darts!  When I make this again am thinking to add a small slit at the bottom of the side seams.
This collar is a great collar.  It is a flattering design and lays not too high, nor too low.
The pearl buttons came from the stash and it wasn't until I was searching through the mountains of buttons I've inherited from my mother and grandmothers that I realized this is the first garment I've ever made that incorporated buttons and buttonholes.  This shirt requires four 3/8" buttons and can you believe there was nary a flat white or clear 3/8" button to be found.  I wanted a casual look and initially was afraid the pearl buttons would be too 'dressy' but now think there are perfectly perfect.  Love 'em!   Interior seams are serged.
The fabric was purchased in June 2017 when I was on a mission to sew all new white tops for summer (of which I am woefully behind!) and purchased 4 different white fabrics from JoAnn's.  All were different blends and all were white and I fretted about remembering which was which, so when I took my perfunctory photo of the end of bolts for future reference, I carefully stacked the white fabric cuts in the same order.  These quick photos of the bolt ends have come in so handy to refer back to of fabric content and care.
Ummmm, like in this case I remembered this was White Chambray so in my mind, as I was sewing it up, I thought I would be wearing 100% cotton.  It wasn't until I was really 'feeling' the fiber of the fabric and had worn the top for the first time I thought this does not 'feel' like cotton.  When I looked back at my photo, which I've isolated the bolt end here below, I realized it wasn't cotton at all.  It was 100% Lyocell.  Whuuuttt??!!!   Another new word!   Simplifi Fabric defines Lyocell as 'eco-friendly', 'from nature to your closet', 'a natural man-made fiber from wood pulp'.  I'm wearing wood pulp?!  Oookay.  Reading on.... Lyocell is more moisture absorbent than cotton, has natural breathability, is 100% biodegradeable with beautiful drape and great for sensitive skin.  The drape was what drew me to this fabric.  Wikipedia has a more technical description if you are interested in more info.  It is also known as Tencel.  After learning about Lyocell I am amazed it's not more widely available, or known, here.  This was a big first for me.  Anyway, I probably had some sort of coupon and paid less than $12.99/yard but it is still available at JoAnn's and on sale for $6.49/yard and you can see it here.  This top takes @1 3/8 yards.
One more thought about this vintage pattern.... it was nice only dealing with the one-size printed tissue pattern with well written instructions in large step-by-step order.  Overall, thoroughly enjoyed the process of making this top and it has triggered an interest in vintage patterns, as I've not sewn from them before.  Wearing it with the floral linen Belize shorts
Also wanted to show how nice it looks all tucked in with the Alabama Chanin modified 6-panel skirt.  The top's front and back darts line up nicely with the skirt's front and back panel seams, as well as helps keep everything nice and neat and tucked in and not all blousy at the waistline.  The only drawback to wearing it tucked in is the bottom pearl button sometimes shows through if the skirt is more fitted there.  This skirt works fine.
Today was the Solar Eclipse event day.   We were located in the 'totality' path, so it was interesting to see the gorgeous blue sky this morning......
.......turn to dark for a couple of minutes this afternoon as the Moon blocked the Sun's rays in full.  My daughter, Melissa, and I enjoyed the moment together at the top of one of our deck stairwells where she snapped this photo of our automatic lights that came on in the darkness.  We've had such a flock of visitors to our area for this event it has caused gas shortages and certain food product shortages, like bread, in our grocery stores.  Hotels have been sold out for weeks, schools and lots of businesses were closed.  Am so thankful to have experienced this once-in-a-lifetime event with my sweet daughter. 
Happy Sewing Everyone!  :)
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