Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Return to Rochester

Those of you who have read my blog for awhile, are familiar with the above photograph.
I originally posted it here, when I first learned of serious problems with my vision, and later in several follow-up posts.

Well, here it is again.

My husband and I will be returning to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota this week.
Recently, periods of double vision have been creeping back.

While not as severe as previously, it is enough to be bothersome.
Before it worsens, we are visiting my wonderful surgeon to seek his opinion and advice.

We were relieved that Minnesota was experiencing a mild winter this year.
As usual, just as we are to arrive, winter storms and winds are beginning to howl!
Coats, sweaters, gloves and boots are now packed.

Once again, my prayer is to gracefully accept any limitations and the path my life follows. 
Even with wonky eyes, I will be OK!
I truly believe that.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monster Tooth Pillow

Isn't he cute, in a monster sort of way?
I adore this guy-friendly design for a tooth fairy pillow!
I happened to discover it while browsing Suzanne's blog, Just Another Hangup.

I used a medium weight twill for the pillow front and a quilting cotton for the back.
Applique pieces are a mixture of quilting cottons and craft felt.
I used a buttonhole stitch to applique the fabric pieces, and a zig zag stitch for the felt eyes and teeth.

I added a fabric loop at the pillow's top.
It may be hung on a door knob, drawer pull or wall hook, making it a little easier for the Tooth Fairy to find in the dark!
Finished size is approximately 10" square, and it is lightly stuffed with polyfil.

The lower part of his funny face makes a pocket for the surprises and treats
left behind by the Tooth Fairy!

Be sure to visit Suzanne's blog for other creative and fun ideas!
A link to the pattern and instructions for the monster tooth pillow, and a tutorial for applique by machine, may be found in the sidebar of her blog.

And now this little monster pillow is on its way to a special little boy!

Hope everyone's week is off to a great start!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear;
rather look to them with full hope that, as they arise,
God, whose you are,
will deliver you out of them.
He is your keeper.
He has kept you hitherto.
Do you but hold fast to his dear hand,
and he will lead you safely through all things;
and, when you cannot stand,
he will bear you in his arms.
Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow.
Our Father will either shield you from suffering,
or he will give you strength to bear it.
~St. Frances de Sales~

Friday, February 24, 2012

Shortcake Romper and Dress

A fun little romper for Spring!

I used this pattern, Shortcake Reversible Romper & Dress
by The Cottage Mama.  It includes Sizes 6 Months to 6 Years.
Designer, Lindsay Wilkes, has recently started marketing her cute patterns.
She also has a fun blog, The Cottage Home, filled with scrumptious recipes, tales of being a young mother, and examples of her creative sewing.
Her patterns include excellent instructions, complete with photographs of each step of construction.
This pattern also included a recipe for Lemon Blueberry Shortcake Muffins!

My version of the romper used Freckles in blue by FreeSpirit Fabrics and
Treetop in pink from an Oliver + S collection for Moda Fabrics.
This is a Size 3T.

This is a very easy and simple pattern, perfect for beginners, or if you just want to whip up something really, really quickly!  There is no hand sewing at all.  It is all completed by machine.

It probably took me longer to decide on fabrics and trace the pattern, than it did to actually stitch.
The romper is completely reversible, making it two outfits in one!

Both romper and dress tie at the shoulders.

I did add a sweet applique monogram to the blue side.
This is the Rick Rack Monogram from DigiStitches.

I alternated the fabrics for the leg bands, to add a little more contrast and interest to the finished project.  I also applied a lightweight woven fusible interfacing to each  leg band piece.  I believe this added a little stability and gave a more finished appearance.

In all honesty, I thought about adding the interfacing while tracing and preparing the pattern.
In my haste to get to the fun part of stitching, I forgot to cut out the interfacing.
Again, I decided to try and follow the pattern instructions for this first time use.
However, after attaching one leg band, I could tell interfacing would really help.
So, my trusty seam ripper was put into action!
After a few minutes of cutting and applying interfacing, I was stitching again and more pleased with the outcome.

For the dress version, I selected Half Moon Modern Big Dots in Steel by Moda.
I used a solid pink broadcloth for the lining.  While the dress is still reversible, I made it mostly to be worn with the dots as the outer fabric.

The hem is edged with pink rick rack.
The dress is Size 4T.
I really love the more full swing style of this little dress -- perfect for running, skipping and twirling!

I also monogrammed the dress in pale pink to match the rick rack and lining.
The font is Empire, one of my all-time favorites, from Embroidery Arts.

I am cleaning up my sewing room to prepare for a few more projects.
First, I am off to pamper myself with a much needed manicure!

Happy Friday to all!

All fabric and patterns available at BessieMary.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The First Day of Lent

The last couple of days, I have read or listened to sacrifices that friends are making for Lent.
I have pondered what I could do.
Honestly, I have never been too successful at giving something up for the duration of the season.

I could, and probably should, give up the massive amount of Diet Coke I consume.
It would make me a healthier person in the long run, but most likely a very unhappy person
for the next forty days.  I would probably only substitute its absence with milkshakes or sweet tea.
 I do not think that is such a wise thing.

I could also give up chocolate and all sweets.
But, that would probably also make me grumpy.

It is a little difficult for me to give up the computer or internet, since it is the basis of my
business.  It is also the only way I am sometimes able to stay in touch with our son.
As I prepare to travel for a few days, my computer and cell phone become even more important for safety and communication purposes.

Somehow, I don't think God really cares if I indulge in soft drinks and sweets, or if I depend on modern technology.
I do think He objects if those things become the most important things in my life, decreasing the amount of time and attention I devote to Him.

As I sat in the darkened sanctuary today, the preacher shared that this season is not so much about changing habits, as it is about changing hearts.
I can do that.

Today, there is a cross-shaped smudge on my forehead.
It is an outward symbol of my faith and God's love for me.
Later tonight, it will be washed away.
It then becomes my responsibility, over the next forty days and beyond, to outwardly show
God's grace and love in all that I say and do.
That will, in some cases, require sacrifices and a change of heart on my part.

To those of you who are also observing Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent,
I wish you a blessed, peaceful, and reflective journey during these forty days.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


My Valentine's Day orchid.

It is no unworthy thing to wish to count for something
and to do a great work in the world;
but we shall count in the final audit
not by the measure of our capacity, our business, our energy,
but of the tenacity and vitality of our faith and our love.
~Richard Roberts~

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bunny's Knit Nightie

This is Bunny's Knit Nightie by Children's Corner.
I love that it makes a useful, but still sweet, gift!

I can just imagine cute little baby feet curled up inside the elasticized hem.
The hem may also simply be hemmed, and left completely open.

The shoulders overlap, creating the neck opening.
This allows for easy construction, with no plackets or openings.
It also means ease of dressing baby, and no lumps or bumps to irritate soft skin.

I used an Oliver + S knit by Moda Fabrics.
The print is larger in scale, but still delicate.

Another feature of the pattern that I appreciate, is construction with a regular sewing machine.  No need for a serger.
Pattern instructions include suggested settings for stitch length and width.
The seams are stitched with a narrow and elongated zig zag, allowing them to stretch with the knit fabric.
Seam edges are then finished with a zig zag, too.

Neck and sleeve edges are turned under and zig zagged.
The folded edge is also zig zagged, creating little scallops.
This is one place where I do usually deviate slightly from the printed instructions.

The instructions suggest using an overcast foot, such as the one on the right, for the decorative edge stitching.  For my Viking machine, the "J" foot on the right is the overcast foot.
When used, the fabric edge is usually lined up with the thin vertical wire.  The needle will then zig zag back and forth across this wire.  The purpose of the wire, is to prevent the edge of the fabric from tunneling or rolling during stitching.

My experience has been that it also seems to prevent the little scallop from forming.
I use a regular sewing foot, such as the "A" foot pictured on the left.  This is also the foot I use to stitch the seams.
I often find that I need to increase my tension, as well.  I then use a zig zag lenth of 3.0 and a width of 4.5.  The zig needs to be on the fabric, and the zag just off the edge, to create the little scallop.

I do use the overcast foot to zig zag the gown's seam allowances to finish them.

Every machine is a little different, so testing stitch settings and different feet is a good thing!

The pattern also includes a little hat, knotted at the top, and a bib, booties and blanket.

I am off to the dentist again today.
It seems to be a weekly thing around here lately!

Fabric and pattern available at BessieMary.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Heart Day!

Wishing you a sweet, fluffy pink icing, topped with sprinkles kind of day!
May your heart always know the happiness of loving and being loved.
Happy Valentine's!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Whoso draws nigh to God one step through doubtings dim,
God will advance a mile in blazing light to him.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Yesterday's agenda included embellishing and monogramming a few burp cloths for a sweet new baby.  As the day unfolded, it became the only thing on the agenda.  During several moments, I was the one doing some serious spitting, sputtering and fuming!

It has been awhile since I used the embroidery feature of my sewing machine, and it evidently decided to teach me a thing or two.  Or, at least test my patience.
I am not one to upgrade each time a new machine is introduced.  My Husqvarna Viking Designer I still uses those obsolete things called floppy disks to transfer the design from the computer to the machine.  That means plugging an external disk drive into the computer, since my computer no longer even accepts floppy disks.  We evidently replace computers more often than sewing machines around here!

After finally getting everything set up, or so I thought, all I received were error messages. 
The thought occurred to read the instructions.  Maybe I had forgotten some important step.
After digging through my sewing room, finding many other treasures in the process, I ultimately found the user's guide to my embroidery software. 
No enlightment there.

A call to my dealer provided no clues, either.
Except to shell out several hundred dollars for new software.
No, I don't think so.

The search for the user's guide also provided the embroidery software CD.
At that point, what did I have to lose?
I decided to remove the software from my computer, and reinstall it.
Don't ask me why, but it worked!
It only took six hours, five cans of Diet Coke (the sixth drink, if needed, would definitely have been something much stronger), one bag of Ghirardelli Sea Salt Soiree dark chocolate squares, and two broken fingernails.
But, the monogram was finally transferred to a floppy and headed toward my machine!

In the end, there are three monogrammed burp cloths!

Today, I am off to one of my least favorite destinations:  the dentist.
I actually like my dentist and all his office staff.  They are almost like family. 
I am just not fond of the pain sometimes incurred.
After yesterday, I am thinking a day of drilling is nothing.
I am pretty sure no fingernails will be broken while sitting in a chair.
And please, let's just keep my Diet Coke and chocolate addiction between us.
That is not something he really needs to hear.
May your Wednesday be wonderful!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Football and Smocking

The sports world is buzzing with commentary on last night's Super Bowl.
The smocking world is celebrating the joy of seeing Eli's daughter dressed in a smocked bishop, complete with red Mary Janes and hairbow!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


When your own burden is heaviest,
you can always lighten a little some other burden.
At the times when you cannot see God,
there is still open to you this sacred possibility to show God;
for it is the love and kindness of human hearts through which the divine reality comes home to men,
whether they name it or not.
Let this thought, then, stay with you:
there may be times when you cannot find help,
but there is no time when you cannot give help.
~George S. Merriam~

Thursday, February 2, 2012


This is Lizzy, a new pattern from Bonnie Blue Designs.
I used a raspberry and pink floral from Fabric Finders.
While I love this fabric, it does make the design features of the pattern a little more difficult to discern in the photographs.  They are more visible in real life!

This is the dress with sleeves version.  I love the little gathered cap sleeves!

There is also a sleeveless version that may be worn as a jumper or dress.

I planned on using white pique for the yoke.
However, by the time I cut it out, I must have forgotten!
When I finally made it to my sewing machine with the pieces, I had cut them all from the floral fabric.  So, I plowed ahead!

Beneath the narrow yoke, is a center box pleat with two more pleats on either side.  These are all topstitched for a few inches, before releasing into soft gathers.
Again, the busier floral print does not allow all the details to be seen.
This style is great for those who are not crazy about full gathered skirts.
The pattern is sized to 8 years, and the pleated skirt is a more contemporary silhouette the older girls would probably like.

The dress buttons down the full length of the back, making it very simple to sew.
There are two pleats, repeating those of the front, on each side of the back.
I used floral shaped raspberry buttons, which seem to almost disappear in these photographs.

When I am sewing a pattern for the first time, I tend to sew it as the pattern shows.
In my personal sewing, that is probably not what I would do.  I would be adding my own mark to it with favorite techniques or embellishments.
However, many of my customers will stitch it as the pattern shows.
I believe I must have had that experience also, in order to better assist them.
As I was constructing this little dress, I thought of things I would probably do differently.

I do believe the addition of piping along the yoke and skirt seam would help to create a more finished look.  With this type of print, it would also help to break some of the busy floral design.
I might also add piping to highlight the square neckline.
As part of the general instructions included in most Bonnie Blue Designs patterns, there are excellent instructions on how to make and apply piping.  So it is something that any seamstress could easily attempt with this pattern.

The pattern illustration does show ribbon applied across the yoke of the jumper, with a bow at center front.  That would be another option for adding embellishment and a dressmaker touch.
However, in the smaller sizes, the yoke is 2" or less.
Adding ribbon to this size 2, seemed to take too much room on the yoke and throw things a little out of proportion.  I think piping or another small trim along the seamline would be better for the smallest sizes.
When using a light to medium weight fabric, I would also add a lightweight interfacing to the yoke.  The interfacing might not be as necessary if corduroy, denim or a heavier twill was used.

I did topstitch around the neckline.  I felt it would help reinforce the square corners and the overall finished look.

I do really love the sleeve!
This style is also a little more contemporary, and may appeal to more people than a traditional puffed sleeve.
I also appreciate the fact that it is lined, lending to a very finished look.

One fun thing, which the pattern suggests, is using a coordinating print for the lining. 
With so much white background in this print, the ginghams, plaids or stripes that I auditioned for lining shadowed through too much.  So, I just used white broadcloth.

By the time I was constructing the sleeves, I did decide the dress needed a little something extra.  So, I added green rick rack at the edge of the sleeves.

The pattern instructions have the sleeves applied flat, before stitching the underarm and sides seams.  I prefer to attach my sleeves in the round.
After applying the rick rack, and stitching the lining and outer sleeve together along the bottom edge, I flattened the lining and outer sleeve.  The underarm seam was stitched in one pass, beginning at the lining underarm seam and ending at the outer sleeve underarm seam.  I then folded the lining to the inside, exposing the rick rack and pressed.  Gathering stitches were stitched along the upper edges and the sleeve was applied to the dress in the round, with the skirt side seams already finished in tiny french seams.  This results in no visible raw edges of the underam seam within the sleeve.  With the french seams in the skirt, there are no exposed raw edges there, either.  Especially since the sleeve is lined, I feel this step makes them look even better.

Overall, I really like this pattern.  Next time, I will probably add piping and maybe a few other touches to add even more to the sweet design features.  I also think it would be fun to try an all white heirloom version, maybe with softly gathered lace around the neck and armholes.  It could be sweet for Easter or summer beach portraits! 

Linking to Sew Darn Crafty at Sew Many Ways!

Fabric, pattern and trim available at BessieMary.

Related Posts with Thumbnails