Wrapping Up 2017 – The Unposted Bits and New Plans

Welcome All and Happy New Year!

Here you’ll find some bits from unfinished posts, tidied up, and combined into what I hope will be an interesting wrap-up to close out a difficult and heartbreaking, yet ultimately joyful year.

We celebrated Thanksgiving in the US a month before Christmas, and I was overjoyed and thankful to have my grandson “C” here to share his week off from school with us. This was his first visit here in NY and there was much to do in a short time. We showed him around our neighborhood and surrounds. We drove him to two major colleges (certainly not an attempt to entice him to the East Coast for college, right?). We went out to eat. Again and again. We went to the Rochester Museum and Science Center, and enjoyed a fascinating exhibition at the Planetarium.  Hubby showed him a nice necktie from the science-themed offerings in the gift shop, which featured the periodic table. C thought it was cool, but said he “could never wear it.” Why?, we asked. “That table is outdated,” he said, as if we should have known better. Oh how I laughed. [Aside: hubby of course, new about this. Three of the elements had been renamed.]

We drove to Niagara Falls (the US side) and marveled at the scenery, all the while shivering in spite of brilliant sunshine, and bracing against the icy wind which nearly knocked us off our feet.

Back home again, we stopped in at Stever’s Candy. C bought a package of chocolates for his mom and promised he would try to save some for her. Later she said “he told me in his Forrest Gump voice ‘I brought you a box of chocolates….I ate some of them.'” That’s my grandson. He’s a keeper.

Christmas holidays we spent with my kids in California! What could be better? Handmade gifts were started but sadly not completed, and Gran’s recipes were gathered together, but not used. It seems we are still a little too raw from Mom (Gran) recent passing, and adult children have lives and jobs and such, and plans just didn’t quite come together in every instance. As I was in a wounded state, being together helped. Tears were shed, funny stories were shared, and bit by bit the holiday became what it was supposed to be. A lovely series of events and quiet moments, surrounded by loved ones. Those times combined with the warm, sunny beach just steps from our hotel room was positively curative. Oddly, I took no pictures of family activities, but here are some from the beach. In lieu of family, here’s a new friend….he walked along the shore for a bit at sunset with hubby and me.

Now for a bit of sewing news. My finished Linden. Who doesn’t love a Linden? That would be me. Well, this particular Linden, that is. It was actually a muslin, made from remnants in the sale bin, purchased nearly two ago years in England. As it happened, there was not enough of either fabric to complete the long-sleeve version, so I used a bit of each. The result was a nice-looking combination that seemed like it might actually be wearable. Now, I’m not overly fond of the 12-year-old boy baseball shirt that resulted, but beyond appearance, the fabrics really didn’t play well together. They didn’t really play well individually either, as one had about 200% stretch (give or take), and the other had edges that rolled beyond description. And the neckline is far too wide, perhaps due to the unruly fabrics’ unnecessary stretch. Additionally, during the making of this very easy garment, my sewing machine failed me a couple of times, my own lack of attention created a “catching up of fabric in the seam” moment with stitches that could not be  found, and the whole experience was just a bit taxing. Does it need to be said that this garment is a total wadder? It will never be worn. But, it fits without modifications, and the pattern is lovely, so as a muslin it worked and I’ll soon make another.

This pic shows that the unhemmed  sleeves are nearly long enough without cuffs, I’ll need to add a few inches to the body length because I don’t want the band, and just look at that neck opening. Admittedly, I haven’t attached the neckline yet, but boy is it sloppy. And see how much the pink edges are rolling? grrr.

The ultimate result? In the bin. Or if I can stomach it, I’ll rescue and finish it for a painting top.

My hubby does zazen meditation and was in need of more support cushions for an upcoming retreat (I’ve done a little zazen and it’s very hard on the knees and back). The cushions must be brown, so while on our holiday we sought out an appropriate brown material, and came upon a likely one at a little fabric shop in California. With no pattern or measurements to hand, he made a guess as to required length to buy, and I increased that by about 1/2 yard. Upon our return home, he trimmed and tidied the foam pieces and I set about making simple pillow cases as a trial. If they’re successful, I’ll try to box the corners (see the nicely finished professional pillow on top of stack), and finesse the opening a bit (they do need to be removable for cleaning). And the yardage? There was less than 1/4 yd left over, so it was close. Whew!

Dots are in my immediate future.

My next sewing project will be my dotted Grainline Farrow. Then I have an adorable top that needs finishing, a fleecy Linden to sew, a muslin for an open jacket whose pattern should be in my mailbox very soon and cozy fabric to purchase for it, and a few lovely pieces of fabric begging to finally be made into something wonderful.

My life has settled down a bit now, and thankfully I can devote more time to sewing. My wardrobe needs a complete overhaul, and I’m also including non-garments in my sewing plans. As of this writing, my desired makes include dresses, some crafty projects, pants (jeans perhaps??), cozy comfy tops for winter, some pj’s, Christmas items, and curtains for my kitchen. That should keep me busy, wouldn’t you think?

But at this moment, I need a bit of stress-free pleasure and this little lap blanket from FinchBox is just the ticket. Everything I need is right here, including the prettiest, softest flannel ever.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, Stitch On Everyone!









Stitching Santa 2017 – Happy Stitching New Year (ooops)

Sheila of Sewchet again sponsored her StitchingSanta, a secret gift exchange. Once more, I signed on, and eagerly gathered sewing goodies for my recipient. Truth be told, however, I was slightly reticent, since after so recently losing my mother, my heart just wasn’t in the holidays this year. I was rather worried that my partner would receive short shrift.

I needn’t have worried however, because of the neatest little twist of fate. You see, last year my recipient was a quilter and I am not. What in the world does one give to a quilter? I scrolled through the US participants and discovered, tra-la!, a quilter. I emailed her straight away and she was so kind to respond with a massive list of possibilities that any quilter would love at any time. I purchased or “found” items working almost exclusively from that list, and my recipient Susan, of Desert Sky Quilting,was pleased with everything! Do you know where this is leading? To my 2017 recipient! The very quilter who so kindly helped me out last year! Becky, of Power Tools with Thread, had given me a list of the items I needed to make her Christmas a quilters’ delight.

Per her list, I included some Clover wonder clips, a blue disappearing marking pen, some adhesive sandpaper dots, and some quilter’s pins. I also included some items from stash – seam tape, variegated blue thread, and a “deluxe” needle threader, which she loved and needed badly! And a cute little homespun candy cane ornament, which I just couldn’t resist. They all fit into this little handmade fabric bag.

Also to be included were two more items from her list which I ordered in plenty of time for delivery. Sadly, the company had a major snafu with their holiday mailings and mine was among the many not delivered in time. I received it Dec 29, the day we returned from California, and I had to wait till after New Year’s Day to get it into the mail. And so Part 2 of her parcel, now dubbed Happy Stitching New Year, is on its way to her at last.


Thanks for your patience, Becky, and may 2018 be snafu-free for all of us!






Stitching Santa 2017 – My Santa is a Sweet, Sneaky Genius

Thank you to Sheila for hosting another year of #StitchingSanta, a secret Santa gift exchange open to all stitchers, knitters, and crafters.

The backstory. I discovered Danielle otherwise known as @Nell1120 on Instagram. She recently posted her participation in Stitching Santa with a sneak peek at what her recipient was getting. One of the items was a little handmade fabric basket, the very one I was making for my own partner. I commented on the post saying my recipient was getting one, too, and she slyly replied “too funny! They’re so useful, aren’t they?” I secretly hoped that Danielle was my Santa. And she was! (Oh, and I just learned she blogs at Enchanted by Books, you’ll want to go that it out.)

My package arrived just as we were leaving for a Christmas visit with my kids on the Central California coast. My conundrum – do I open now? Or wait till we return on the 29th? Of course I wanted to open immediately, but I deferred to the community who would all be opening on Christmas Day. Waiting was the proper response. Curses.

We returned on Friday morning Dec 29 and as soon as we were in the door, I opened my parcel.

Oooh, my box is stuffed with this….


Unwrapping revealed…more unwrapping!


And after all the unwrapping, look at this haul!


Danielle sent a most eclectic assortment.  A pack of five Christmas fabrics, a pack of white lace seam tape, a cute monogrammed tea towel and spatula, a little jar of pretty buttons (who doesn’t love buttons!), a tiny little ice cream charm, a chunky Christmassy coffee cup, and two handmade items – the cute little fabric basket and an adorable stripey pin cushion.  You won’t see the assortment pack of hand needles because they were apparently camera-shy.

Here is a close up of the pattern: it’s Butterick which has always been a favorite, and I just might have the perfect fabric already in my stash.


Special closeup:


I wanted to be sure you all can see what this is. It’s just a little charm. But in her card, Danielle said she included it hoping to bring a smile, as she knew I’d still be sad over my mom’s recent passing. Mint chip was Mama’s favorite (and mine) and this was such a sweet gesture. It did bring a smile, and will go onto my key ring.

So after all, it was best to open my gifts after our Christmas holiday. It prolonged a little bit of joy for another day.

Thank you Danielle! I love it all, such thoughtful and kind gifts!




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.


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.


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).


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!


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!