My dear, beloved grandmother will celebrate her 92nd birthday in a couple of weeks. My husband always tells me that I’m not my mother’s child but my grandmother’s child – which might be one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said to me!
I was the first grandchild born to both my maternal and paternal grandparents which set me up to be pretty dang special! I freely and happily admit that I have reaped some tremendous perks as the first grandchild. I was also fortunate to have known all four of my grandparents for many, many years. It is a lovely relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild, in my opinion.
My grandmother who will be 92 was always so hands on with us. She let us play beauty parlor with her as our loyal customer! If there had been smart phones and Instagram back in the 70’s, I imagine the pictures of our ideas of gorgeous hairdos and pretty make up would not seem so gorgeous as much as garish now. No matter, she gamely sat patiently while we put extremely generous amount of Dippity Do (remember that!) in her hair and rolled and teased her coif until I imagine her head ached! Then on to the make up application – I wouldn’t be surprised if the final result was more kabuki than anything else.
She also let us play dress up in her closet. In her REAL closet with her REAL dresses and shoes. And boy, did she have some gorgeous clothes! My grandfather would go to town (Memphis, TN) and buy her complete outfits to wear to the Rooftop Parties at the Peabody Hotel back in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s. He brought boxes home with dresses, slips, matching bras and underwear, stockings, hats, and shoes – from head to toe. Everything matched! An ivory brocade dress and jacket had ivory foundation garments and an ivory hat and matching shoes. Same for a red chiffon dress – red foundation garments and a matching red had and shoes. Oh, and matching jewelry, too! She let us play in all those exquisite, expensive clothes! What a trooper! For our part, I don’t recall us ever damaging her pretty things.
Some years ago, it may have been on the occasion of her 80th birthday, I took her to town (Memphis is still the “town”) for High Tea at the Peabody Hotel. True to form, she went to the beauty parlor and got her hair done and wore one of her best dresses. She looked beautiful and we had a fantastic afternoon sitting in the luxurious lobby, eating petit fours and drinking tea while watching the Peabody’s ducks swimming in the marble fountain carved from a single enormous piece of travertine, an impressive piece of Italian workmanship in its own right.
As she gets older, her passions include shoes, fine china teacups, and handbags. I am neither a cobbler nor a potter, so I decided to make her a handbag. Here is the final result:
The exterior of Mammaw’s birthday present
My cousin, Capt. Raymond C Stacks, was declared MIA on 30 November 1968 when his helicopter was shot down in Laos. No evidence of Raymond or his remains have ever been recovered although there is a marker for him in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
I was not yet born when Raymond was lost, but I knew about him as I grew up from my grandmother. His parents tried many times to find Raymond or evidence of him to no avail.
I have thought of him and his family often, especially on the days when we remember and honor those who serve and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our Country’s ideals.
You can see more images of this on my Craftsy.com projects page: All Gave Some, Some Gave All.
Raymond, I remember you and I am thankful for your sacrifice and for the sacrifice of your parents and sisters.
I put together a muslin yesterday for a really cute top that I hope will be flattering and comfortable while being very versatile. I used Vogue 8815 and attempted view C. This is a Very Easy Vogue pattern and it is very easy. Just a few simple pieces and it sews up quickly.
The issue is not with Vogue. If you know the acronym PEBKAC, you know what happened here.
Problem Exists Between Cutting Mat and Scissors
So, there you go. I basted everything together in just a few minutes and attempted to put it on.
Muslin FAIL. The arms are way too tight. The front piece is so tight it looks like I’m trying to bind my chest. The waist is a good 3 inches or more too high in the front.
I almost had to Hulk-out to get the thing off!
Cutting corners, being lazy or undisciplined, or just slacking doesn’t yield good results when sewing.
Today I cut out 3 patterns. One I cut out on my Swedish pattern paper because I expect to need to make some changes. The other two are both stretch fabrics – my first stretch fabric attempts. I will say that the serrated Gingher scissors I bought upon the advice of Susan Khalje were a great investment. They grip slippery fabrics so you can cut two layers easier.
I must decide how to get an appropriate cutting table. Bending over the dining room table does not make my arthritic back happy. I think I could put bed risers under the table legs which would make it pretty much perfect until we tried to sit down to dinner. I’ll have to think of a more practical solution.
It took several hours to prep, layout, pin, then cut out. I believe that prepping before sewing is the bulk of the “heavy lifting” in sewing. For me, it is the most physically uncomfortable part. However, once it is done, the rest of the process is cake!
So, next step is to sew up the pieces!
For a quick win and because we had enough fleece left-over, Skippy made a small envelope back pillow cover for a 12″ x 12″ pillow insert. This lesson involved more about placement of fabrics with defined patterns and also matching patterns or lines in a pattern to keep the finished product looking nice and neat.
Take a look!
He used the Baby Lock Elizabeth for the envelope back seams and the Baby Lock Audrey serger to finish out the pillow cover. He says the serger is not his friend but since it was the better tool for the project, he bravely used it anyway. Since the pillow cover may be used quite a bit and spend plenty of time being washed and dried, he wanted the most stable seams possible.
Another excellent sewing project from Skippy!
My 14 year old stepson asked if “we” could make his new (and first) niece a baby blanket. I said, “Sure, you can do that!” I showed him my stash of pink flannel and other girly fabrics. He was not inspired. We went to the local fabric store and he picked out University of Alabama fleece for the backing then a black/red/white flannel plaid, and a solid red flannel for the quilt top. This tiny little girl will have her first and very own ‘Bama Blanket – Roll Tide! (Apparently, his mom and her entire family are rabid ‘Bama fans.)
As you may know, determining how many squares and of what size requires – wait for it – MATH! Gasp! The horror! Now, Skippy is not a huge fan of the math. I feel his pain since it wasn’t my best subject, either. But we sat down and drew some pictures and used some graph paper and a calculator to come up with the correct numbers. He decided on a 24″ x 24″ quilt so he needed 9 squares that were 8″ x 8″. Of course, we had to discuss seam allowance, so he ended up cutting out 9 squares that were 9″ x 9″. I thought a generous seam allowance would be a safe decision for this first project.
We pinned the squares together and he sewed the first 3 strips. Then we pinned the strips together and he sewed those together to get the quilt top.
Although he had a general idea of how the top would look, the concept of how it would actually come together wasn’t there until he finished the last stitch and held up the finished top. I must say that he was pretty danged impressed with himself and for good reason! Take a look at this –
He put the fleece on the back and we talked about placement of fabric with a design so it doesn’t look wonky. After pinning the front to the back, he learned how to “stitch in the ditch” and sewed two seams across his rows to add stability to the blanket when it is washed and used. I am going to finish the binding for him with a pretty black satin blanket binding ‘cuz I’m a nice Evil Stepmom like that.
The embroidery you see is the little girl’s name with her first inital “A” in a style that is similar to the University of Alabama “A”.
I think Skippy did a great job and his niece is a lucky little girl!
A pillow made in my Stitch & Slash online class at Craftsy.com. Four layers of fabric are sewn together. The layers are then removed, one at a time, to reveal the bottom layer. Additonal decorative sewing elements are added. I stuffed each “pouch” to create additional interest before adding a red twill back and a final loose stuffing.
I have a very nice Baby Lock sewing machine – the Elizabeth model. The machine comes loaded with all types of utility, quilting, and decorative stitches. I have only used about 5 of the 100+ options.
Craftsy.com offers many online, take-at-your-leisure crafting, sewing, knitting, etc classes. I have purchased four and gotten two at no charge. If you are interested in learning a new skill or technique, I highly recommend the Craftsy platform!
One of the classes I am currently working on is called Stupendous Stitching. This class teaches sewing, couching, and related techniques for creating fabric art. As part of the learning process, the students are asked to create a “Stitch Bible” of all the stitches on their personal sewing machines. By actually stitching out every option and assembling the “pages” in a “book” we will have the opportunity to learn more about our machines.
Our instructor, Carol Ann Waugh, advises to alter the stitch properties on each stitch to discover even more options than you see in the manual. A machine with 10 stitch options can have so many more options than just 10. By changing the stitch properties to make the stitch sorted, smaller, longer, taller the possibilities are amazing! Ten stitches quickly becomes 20 and then 30 and so on.
My machine has 4 groups of stitches. The image above shows the first four “pages” of my stitch library. I have completed the first group, which is mostly utility stitches, and am little over half way through the second group of stitches. I have already learned a few things about my machine and discovered a few stitches that I will definitely want to use in the future! It feels really good to take the time to do this exercise because I paid a nice chunk of change for a good machine, so I really should learn all I can about what it will and won’t do, what it can and can’t do. Also, the more I use my machine, the better I become at using it.
Practice, practice, practice!
p.s. You can check out some of Carol Ann Waugh’s work on her Pinterest page!