About jendavismiller

Lover of home and family, four-legged buddies, writing, sewing, coffee, walking, life!

Picking up the Pieces – A Tribute

Hello all. Most of you know that my mother has been living with us and we have watched her slow decline over the last year suddenly become so rapid. Her journey is now over. Mom passed away peacefully August 25, and my heart is broken. It’s still so new, so raw, but I know that time will heal all sorrow….or so they say. However, having lost grandparents, my father and stepmother, stepfather, and stepson, my heart knows that time really doesn’t heal, the pain just moves a bit away from the very forefront allowing us to move ahead.

Fortunately, mom was never hospitalized. Hospice workers came to the house to care for her (and us). Her voice weakened until we could barely make out her whispers, but she was aware till the end. She loved to sit on the porch and listen to the birds until she was unable to get out of bed. She also loved ice cream (a lot!) and when her lack of appetite permitted only one or two bites a day, those bites were mint chocolate chip ice cream. My sister and all of my children were able to come from the west coast to visit in her last couple of weeks. Their visits brought her such joy. My husband and I are comforted to have been with her, holding her hands, as she took her last breath.

My mother was a little woman, packed with strength, courage, stubbornness, resilience, charisma, compassion, laughter, talent, grace and more love than should have fit into her mini-sized body. She instilled in me a love of nature and music (sadly, not her singing voice), a bit of goofiness, a love of family, unwavering devotion to my children, a love for all people and animals, a need to serve, and a need to create.

My father’s mother taught her to sew, and Mama taught me. So as I grieve, I know there is a way to continue her legacy. I’ll pursue more charitable giving and work, speak up for those who have no voice, love my family with abandon, and I will sew. Remembering her fastidious garment sewing over the years will remain an inspiration to me.

And in her honor, after I finish a work-in-progress, my first new project will involve dots! Why dots? Just have a look.

Dots for birthday baking….…and dots (might they be red?) in the park with a gorgeous coat. Perhaps a need to conceal her secret prompted me to edit out the reason for mama’s silly expression – her hand is deep in a bag of potato chips! Methinks that as I’m in her belly in this photo, she may have contributed to my love of salty snacks. Thanks Mom.

So now I must begin to pick up the pieces. I will keep her always in my heart, and I’ll cry. But I’ll carry on. As she did through many challenges and many losses. As we all must.

 

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Riddle Me This

For my next project I have 3 yards of this fabulous Atelier Brunette Tabby, a lovely lighter weight cotton woven, purchased from Finch Knitting + Sewing Studio originally to make a shirt dress. Sadly, the reality is that I’d likely never wear such a dress. All the pretty, shapely dresses all over the internet are so lovely, but frankly, just not me. Now, I still want to make a dress, but with certain requirements: sleeves, waistless (because I have no waistline), and hitting just below the knee (because they must not be seen). And it must have some interesting character, and must not be frumpy – not easy to accomplish when one is only 5’4″ on the best of days. Realizing that is a tall order (no pun intended), I’m turning to you, dear readers for some advice. At the moment, I’m waffling (oh waffles, I do love a waffle now and again, that could be problematic) between these patterns.

If you follow me, you might recall that I’ve joined the 2017 MakeNine project. None of these dresses is on my list, but that fabric is so gorgeous I just can’t wait! And I promise to work on another one of the list items next…..perhaps the Linden? Or the Morris Jacket? A bright, flowery blouse? Besides, surely I can swap out my project list items – it is my list after all, right?

Atelier Brunette Tabby

The following are my top three pattern choices: cocoon, trapeze, and swingy (?). Given the above requirements, what would you choose? And oh yes, if you’d like to further complicate matters, you could even offer up a different pattern if it would suit the fabric and the requirements! Yikes. Pattern art from the respective websites.

Style Arc – Adeline

Merchant & Mills – Trapeze

Grainline Studio – Farrow

So what’s the verdict everyone? I’m anxious to get sewing again.

A brief update on our household – the tiny bundle of strength that is my sweet mother is still hanging on(!), although she slips a little more each day. In the meantime, I begin outpatient physical therapy on my left knee this afternoon. Very soon I’ll be able to sit at my machine long enough to sew, and to hop up and down to ironing board, etc.

Soon I’ll join in as you …. Stitch On, Everyone!

Buck up, little soldier…

Hello all!

It’s been an age since I’ve made a post, hasn’t it. My blog reading and commenting have been pretty lean, too. Many of my favorite bloggers are on IG, but even though that’s so fast and easy, I haven’t commented much there either. But I digress…

My world has been rocked a bit lately. I hadn’t planned to share, but since I always appreciate hearing everyone else’s back stories and knowing that they’re ok when absent for a while, it seemed the logical step.

So here we go. You likely know that my 91-year mother lives with us. Mom lost a kidney a few years ago due to sepsis from a hospital visit while she still lived in California. Her remaining kidney had very little functionality, and it was declared that she probably would be with us only a “few more months, certainly not a year”. She lived on another three years there, and has been here with us over a year and a half – I’d say she has definitely beat the odds on that one!

During the last few weeks, however, there’s been a decline in her general well being. I’ve been doing more for her and watching her become increasingly dependent. My normally chipper mother has lost some of her sparkle. She has more aches and pains, sleeps more, eats less and has lost a little weight (we rejoiced to see her finally reach 105 lbs, so this loss is not welcome). Her kidney function has fluctuated, other key lab tests have been wonky, and she’s had a bout of dehydration. It’s a delicate and difficult balancing act.

To bring a long story short, her doctor believes she has turned a corner in her life, and it may be time to consider hospice services. Not because she is actively dying (isn’t that the oddest expression), but to keep her comfortable, and most important, keep her here at home. And yet again, we hear the prognosis of “months, certainly not a year”. That may be the case, or she may surprise us once again! How I’d love to be surprised, in spite of what my eyes are trying to tell me.

So why did I decide to share this? As a means of explaining my absence, of course, since some have inquired, but also to begin my own healing. A way of forcing myself to push through. My sewing blog buddy, soon to be in-person buddy, someone a lot of you know (… it’s Del!! …) sent an email that inspired me. “Saw your sweet list on IG a few days ago… ” 

I had to go back and read my “sweet” list. It was a tad maudlin. I was obviously missing my children, worried about my mom, perhaps having just a bit of a pity party, certainly not the light-hearted post I intended. One listed item was that Mom taught me to sew on her Bernina. Now I have my own Bernina, and would like Mom to see that those long-ago lessons were not wasted. So as she takes more and longer naps, I’ll have some time to myself and intend to use at least part of it to do some sewing again! I have one project nearly finished and a few lined up. More on that in the next post.

That’s it for today, friends, thanks for reading … and Stitch On, Everyone!

 

 

 

1, 2, 3, 4….

Four fabric squares, each with four seams and four corners. Now that is some advanced sewing, wouldn’t you say? And all these “fours” rolled together in my brain, and came out as 1, 2, 3, 4 … can I have a little more … a dandy little ditty by my four favorite guys.

So after this little digression, let’s get on with the post.

While on vacation last September I bought 4 cotton fat quarters (2 in Brecon and 2 in Chester) to make bandanas for my dear hubby. There couldn’t be a simpler project and as it is now April, he has waited long enough, wouldn’t you agree?

I zipped through the first one, but didn’t turn the corners properly.

Even though they are not terribly bulky, I needed to make better corners with the next one. Unfortunately, the next one was a very lightweight fabric that hubby had chosen himself. Now, who can worry about proper corners when one can’t even keep the feed dogs from chomping up the teeny tiny hems? And of course, this was the smallest of the pieces so making wider hems posed a problem. (Hmm, shouldn’t fat quarters be fairly uniform in size?)  So I did some troubleshooting. I cleaned and dusted my machine, grabbed a new needle, rethreaded both top and bobbin thread. I changed from the lightweight transparent foot (which I had just bought, and love!) to a heavier edge foot and checked the foot tension. The only thing left for me to do was buck up and start again. Starting with great trepidation on the flimsy little square, I happily discovered my machine just whirred right along, and no more hungry feed dogs! And look, my corners have improved!

Rather blurry photo, my apologies.

Here is the completed stack. A grand total of 16 corners and 16 hemmed sides to create four workout/running bandanas for himself. I don’t know which is his favorite, but I’ll just bet you can guess which one is mine!

Somehow, the color is a bit off on just one of these bandanas – the plain green one is a nice, bright green. Won’t he be a big hit at the gym?

And next to come, my new True Bias Hudson pants! And could it be? A dress!

Excuses, it’s the end of the road!

My sewing has been going sooo slowly. I’ve made a few garments (and got in some good practice time and a little skill learning) and have created a plan to make nine garments this year. Of those nine, I’ve finished one top, and really like it! Have a pair of pants and a few more little projects already started, but not worthy of posting as yet. (I do, however, have about a gazillion ideas for fabrics, patterns, etc needing to be ordered from absolutely everywhere! I’ll need to find a job … and a place to store everything …)

But you may wonder what I mean by the end of the road for excuses. I’ll explain. If you’ve followed me for the nearly two years of my blog (amazing!) you’ll recall that my sewing machine initially resided on the little-used dining room table. The table height wasn’t perfect for my back, and I had to run upstairs to the laundry room every time pressing was needed, but it sufficed well. But when my mother moved here with us, we converted hubby’s office to her suite, moving his office furniture into the dining room. Stella the sewing machine was banished to the laundry room, convenient now to the ironing station, but squeezed into a tiny corner. We purchased 2 utility tables, strapped them together, and the resultant 48″ square table is perfect for cutting fabric and folding laundry (and storing everything left over from remodeling) in this tiny room. To further complicate the situation, after my recent knee surgery, the dining room is now the dining room/office/infirmary. So, no more room at all for sewing (although I have been printing and cutting out some pdf patterns in there.)

You also know that our old house always has projects; the latest were the master bedroom and an emergency bathroom repair. With those completed, the sewing room arrived at the top of the list! And now it’s up to me to make all requests for my perfect sewing space. Soon. Like today or sooner.

And as is my wont, I’m turning to my knowledgeable sewing friends for some advice.

Here’s a little description for you. We are working with a 14′ x 10′ 6″ space with 3 doors and 2 windows and one overhead light/fan fixture. The little closet in the second picture will be for hubby’s clothes storage (after all, I have both tiny closets in the MBR).

Mr LTSB is crafty and has offered to build shelves, tables, storage, update electrical – you name it. (Yes, I’m the lucky one, that is for certain.) What I’ve come up with so far is a 48′ x 60″ cutting table with storage underneath. It would probably be in or near the center of the room. The sewing machine will go just to the left the window on the longer wall. The ironing board will stay in the laundry room, which is just steps away.

My general questions to you – what storage is best for what purpose? open shelves? closed shelves? drawers? what size cutting table works best? should it be against a wall or in the open? TV? lighting? I’ve seen lovely pics of sewing rooms (so many pictures my head spins) with threads, scissors, etc on display – very pretty, but don’t they get dusty? Think I’d like mine enclosed. Fancy sewing machine cabinet or just a table? This will be a simple, functional space.

And the most basic question – what is your number one must-have in an efficient sewing workspace?

I’d appreciate any advice. And when this is all finished, I solemnly promise a flurry of fabulously finished sewing projects!!

Stitch on, everyone!

Just the top, ma’am…

This was supposed to be a post about a pajama/lounging outfit, but I’m so happy with the top, I couldn’t wait to show you.

Working on my #2017makenine, I hit a snag right from the outset. It seems all the materials I had on hand were of the stretchy variety, which I’ve never sewn, even back in the old days when I made most of my wardrobe. (oh wait, there was a pink textured polyester shorts & tank set – ack! I’d forgotten about that gem – wore it proudly, but  in retrospect, it was an absolute horror)

Anyway….I decided to  toile my first planned make, pajamas, sewing the top from the Simple Sew Shannon Collection, a pattern gifted to me by Ali of THIMBERLINA fame. I would be using a beautiful piece of Art Gallery stretch jersey, purchased at Akhaban in Chester, when I met Ali and her mum.

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Thanks to all your good advice, see previous post, the neckline was stretched into submission and sewed to near perfection (although still a bit puckery).

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I tried on the top again; the fit was right, but something was not right with the sleeves. Were they too long? Maybe. Too tight? Not really. They just weren’t right. So how did I resolve this issue? Ditch the cuffs! So, with sleeves hemmed without cuffs, the length is perfect and the top is great! I love this cheery fabric.  For my next version, I’ll most likely make wrist length, snuggly sleeves.

Truth be told, the sleeve hems are not perfectly done; I turned them under twice so they’re a tad thick. I wanted to do a better job on the hem, so I searched the internet for tutorials and tips for sewing knits without a serger/overlocker. It seemed rather hopeless, as all the examples looked so nice and mine looked so …. well, not nice.  So I procrastinated, and tidied my sewing area instead. Lo and behold, I found some hem tape! I made a couple of sample runs to get the desired width, and with the hem finally sewn, this top is finished!

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Not the best hairdo for this picture, as it reveals that something is askew with the shoulder/neckline. The neckline isn’t so pointy when my shoulders are in a normal position, not up in a funny how-does-one-pose-for-a-selfie shot.

I love this happy little top so much, it might be allowed out in public after all.

Next up, to complete the outfit, my Hudson pants in a luscious black double knit. They just might have a little contrast trim in a familiar print.

Watch this space.

 

We’ve had MAN FLU around here…

Curses. My sewing has fallen off the shelf. Or more to the point, my photographing has fallen off the shelf. Hubby has been down with a severe cold (fever and bronchitis) for several days and now that he is very nearly recovered, I’ve succumbed. However, with only a low fever and no bronchitis for me, I expect to be up and around in a day or so.

The first day of his affliction, hubby found this video and shared it with me. And I’m passing it along to you, as anyone who’s had a sick man around the house can probably relate. Enjoy!

A real sewing post with pictures to come tomorrow or the next day.

Stitch on and stay healthy, everyone!

Sewing along, singing a song……

Sewing is happening here, and the following is a little progress report. A little report on a little bit of progress. But, even small progress is progress, right? And I may or may not be singing along, and there just may be a curse now and again.

I’m excited to be working toward my #2017makenine goal, see post here. I’m combining four elements of my plan to create my first make; pajamas, tee shirt, pants and some fun printed knit fabric. The knit fabric was destined to be pjs – but I was unsettled on the pattern, and apprehensive about sewing with knits. On the advice of dear Ali, I’m using the printed fabric to make a muslin of my Shannon tee pattern. This will be the new pj’s top. I’ve purchased a solid black double knit for a muslin of the Hudson pant, which will be the pj’s bottom. Very soon I’ll have a great pair of comfy pj’s (or lounging about outfit), and know that two of my new pieces will fit! (Not certain where the jams will fit into the original plan……..perhaps they will be Number 10!)

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How is it going? Well, the top fits! I’ve added 5 inches to the sleeves, and the sleeve bands are just right. The neckband? Not so perfect. I believe there is nearly an inch of extra fabric around the neckline than on the band. Good thing I elected to use the same fabric to make the bands instead of the black, as it has far less stretch.

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After doing a little research, I tried steaming the neckline to shrink it, and that didn’t work. So as I see it, these are my options; stretch the band to fit the neckline, attach it as is and try to smooth out any gathers or bunches, or recut the neckband to fit (there is plenty of leftover fabric). Any advice?

Hoping to finish the top (a super simple pattern, that should have taken about an hour to sew) and cut out the pants this afternoon, if all goes as planned.

Stitch on, everyone!

Blogiversary Textile Giveaway!

Hi everyone, I’m reposting this Giveaway offer from Sheila of LaCartera. Good luck to all!

I’m celebrating my 4 year Blogiversary and I wouldn’t have anything to celebrate if it wasn’t for YOU!

So I decided to share my love of textiles with one lucky follower!

textile-giveaway

You decide which fabrics, Wallpaper or gift wrap designs you want from my Spoonflower shop and I will have it shipped to you.

International and U.S. participants are welcome!

(Note: Spoonflower will ship to locations all over the world except Belarus, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Somalia, Yemen, Cuba, Iran, and Syria.)

mix-or-match

Here are your options to mix textile designs or match one single design (Kona Cotton Fabric, and Satin Gift Wrap valued at $55 :

  • 5 Fat Quarters (Mix or Match designs )
  •  3 Yards of Fabric (Mix or Match designs )
  • 2 Yards of Fabric and 2 Fat Quarters (Mix or Match designs)
  • 1 Roll of Wallpaper
  • 4 Rolls of Gift Wrap (Mix or Match designs)
  • 2 Rolls of  Gift Wrap &…

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No resolutions, just a plan – #2017MakeNine

Through Rochelle’s blog, LuckyLucille, I learned about the #2017MakeNine. Since I’m not “doing resolutions” for 2017, but want to ramp up my sewing and need some accountability, I’ve decided to join the MakeNine group.

So in no particular order, these are my chosen patterns.

  • The True Bias Hudson Pant – because it seems like a fairly easy make, and looks so comfy! This will be my first pair of pants to make since 1970. Those were green/beige plaid wool lined with something slinky. Oh and they may have had cuffs. Yikes.

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  • Grainline Morris – because I’m possibly the only person alive who hasn’t made one and it will go with nearly anything! Perhaps in a lightweight wool? My last jacket was a close-fitting floral blazer in hideous shades of red and blue, if memory serves. And giant buttons.

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  • Simplicity 2208, Version C in fleece – because it has a hood, and great lines. It will be a great cozy jacket for those days when the big, puffy down coat isn’t necessary. I might even match the pattern photo, if I can find dotted fleece.

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  • Merchant & Mills Ellie and Hattie dress – because it looks terribly comfy, has nice, roomy pockets, and look at those interesting darts with contrast thread! Do you think this could this work in a knit?

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  • Sewaholic Patterns, Gabriola Skirt – because of the pretty yoke detail, and the long lines. Will likely made up in the white polyester I received from Carmen, my StitchingSanta.

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  • Grainline Linden – because it’s a sweatshirt, which is perfect for fall, winter, and spring around here. And that comfort factor again.

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And these patterns have fabric purchased already, set to cut out and go!

  • I bought loads of this cotton jersey at Abakhan in Chester, and it seems perfect for jammies. On the fence, though, about the pattern, which I bought for $1 at a Joanne’s super sale.

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  • The same Abakhan shopping trip resulted in this oh-so-soft gray jersey, which I’ll use to make up this tee shirt pattern, a gift from Ali. Can the sleeves be lengthened without spoiling the look?

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  • And last but not least, this pussy bow blouse (also from Ali) will be made up from this fabulous polyester print (gifted from Del, Curls n Skirls).

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It’s a good plan, wouldn’t you agree?  Mostly simple and comfortable, and I’m ready to sew!!

Stitch on in the New Year everyone!