It’s the in-between of reality and a finished basement.
And one of these days, real soon we’re hoping, there will be dry wall and paint and cabinets and flooring and all sorts of classy things that add up to a finished basement.
Until then, this Mama is so very grateful for a young college man who sees the bigger picture of things and doesn’t complain. Though he has been known to swipe some of his Mama’s favorite fur blankets. But she has chosen to classify that as a small indiscretion, it’s the least she could do, right?
I picked up this little J Crew chambray number several months ago.
The armholes were too big, it was entirely too long for what I was wanting and I really didn’t care for the buttoned tabs at the shoulder. But hey, for $3, I figured I was worth a shot at tweaking it a bit.
There really is no pattern to follow when altering clothing. It’s more of a method that involves lots of tweaking, trying on, pinning, basting, re-pinning, ripping, stitching … you get the picture, right?
A few of the rules I have learned:
– Try clothes on inside out, it’s much easier to pin
– Use lots of pins
– Use a basting stitch and try it on again, right side out and adjust as needed
– Finish with a regular length stitch – ask me how I know that one – oops!
The first thing I did on this shirt was to take in the sides several inches. I knew I would wear a tank of some sort under it, but those arm holes were ginormous! Then the buttons and shoulder tabs just had to go.
The next step was to split the bottom of the shirt straight up the middle so it could be tied at the waist. You’ll notice a small triangle I left at the bottom of the existing placket. That was so I could turn it under and stitch the edge so it would be finished.
I double-hemmed the edges (turned them under 1/4″ and 1/4″ again) and stitched them.
And then. Well. That was pretty much it. I may decide to go back and restitch some of the buttons a little neater, or I may decide that it really doesn’t have to be perfect.
I just paired down my summer wardrobe and this one made the cut. It works great over a tank or bandeau top when we head out for church or a date night. It was definitely worth the $3 to have a fun little summer shirt. That, and the knowing that it’s worth taking the chance that it may or may not work.
As far as the last rule I’ve learned about doing alterations? It’s worth it to experiment and try redeeming that old shirt / skirt / dress before you drop it off at the local thrift shop. What do you have to lose?
This little gem is a favorite piece in my sewing studio.
It’s a commissioned piece.
Dad was commissioned to build it years ago. That was shortly after mom found the baskets that would be perfect for her quilting projects. I’ve only made wall quilts, so now they hold other sewing projects. Sounds fun, right?
It is! Except that for now they are holding alteration and repair projects. That’s a good thing. Right?
Absolutely! Most of the time. It’s those other moments when I find myself focusing on..
… baskets full of chores, instead of possibilities
… the undone, instead of the done
… how long ago it should have been done, instead of the potential of the day before me.
That’s how the story of redemption feels sometimes…
What if it doesn’t work anyway?
Will it really be worth it?
What if I’m just wasting my time?
Why didn’t I work on it sooner?
Why does it seem to take so very long to come?
Perhaps that’s part of it’s beauty…
The fact that it is a bit of a risk.
The fact that it’s always worth the effort.
The fact that the time required is the very thing that makes it so priceless.
The fact that today always holds the possibility of being the first day.
The fact that in the end, it doesn’t really matter as much if it took a week or a month, what matters is that it happened.
Perhaps if I choose to focus on the possibilities, then today can be the first day. And along the way I get the chance to be part of refining a masterpiece.
Whether it’s a scrap of fabric or the scraps of those tattered days in life.
With our oldest daughter married, our son off working at summer camp and our middle girl away for the week, the youngest and I have lots of time together. Just the right time for a little project…
First step? Remove Mason from said project.
then start pulling..
and generally deconstructing…
Until you’re left with an almost nicked chair. On it’s side. Because it turns out that after all that removing, pulling, prying, ripping and deconstructing, you’re pretty okay with it living on it’s side for the evening.
When we get to share a bit more mama-girl bonding time.
What fun I have had sprucing up the front porch this past month…and then some. I have enjoyed so many steps of the process, but I think this final layer is one of my favorites.
The first thing I do whenever we have moved into a new home is to replace all the mini-blinds with curtains. I find them easier to clean, impossible to break, and much cozier than blinds. I’ve always loved curtains fluttering in the breeze of an open window. So naturally, the front porch couldn’t possibly be complete without some curtains to strengthen that invitation to sit a spell and savor the moments of life.
I had originally wanted to use a pece of black pipe for the rod, but we had to change that to a silver cable from IKEA. We had used them in ours previous home, so that made it economical too! Bonus! Both our corner post and the facia against the brick are metal with some dead space between it and the brick, hence the change of plans. My hubby used three eye hooks and some anchors into the brick and the post, to leave the least amounts of damage. We then attached the cable to the eye hooks and we used clips to attach the fabric panels to the cable. When they get soiled, then all I have to do is throw them in the wash. It’ll be grand!
I chose a crinkled white sheer fabric for the curtains. It’s light and airy and, as with many of my projects, it was in my closet as part of my acquired collection of fabrics from my mom’s stash. Her piece was enough for the two panels on the front of the porch and I had an almost identical piece for the side panel.
The porch measures about 8 1/2′ across the front, about 5′ deep and 10′ high. The fabric was crazy wide and I don’t plan to actually close the curtains so I split it down the middle leaving just over 50″ width for each panel. I then cut it the height from the hanging cable to the porch “floor” and added 11″, 5″ for the top hem and 6″ for the bottom hem. I used the same measurements for the side panel.
The first step was to hem the sides of each panel. On the selvaged edges I simply turned the fabric under once and straight stitched it. For the raw edges, where I had ripped the fabric in half, I used a 1″ double hem. When sewing a hem like this I usually use a 1/8″ a 1/4″ stitch closest to the “raw” edge.
Next I cut a 5″ wide strip of interfacing, folded it in the middle, the long way, and ironed it to itself. I notched the ends as I was ironing it to make a long 2 1/2″ wide strip . I used the strip inside the top hem to provide some stability and keep the sheers from ripping because they are so lightweight.
This strip was then added to the 2 1/2″ double hem at the top of the curtains. Usually it’s easiest to iron a double hem first, but that didn’t work this time, because of the fabric content. So, I pinned the fabric along the edge of the interfacing strip, and then folded it again.
With LOTS more pins than I usually use, it worked just fine. I added a row of stitching to the top of the panels, in addition to the stitching at the “raw” edge, to reinforce where the clips would be placed and prevent ripping.
I wanted the bottom hem to be less structured, so I didn’t add interfacing to it. It’s also a little bit deeper than the top hem. I have found that I like a deeper hem at the bottom of curtains. These are 3″ (double hemmed) and about the narrowest I would use for long curtains.
The top of the panel is shown at left, with the clip used to attach it to the cable. The bottom of the panel is on the right. The last step was dragging out the behemoth of a ladder that we have to clip the curtains to the cable way up at the top of the space.
I opted for a double strand of jute rope to tie them back, because it’s such a completely different texture than the curtain themselves. Somehow, completely different textures make a space even cozier. We still need to add a tie back hook for one side, and I think I found the perfect one the other day. That will be on the hubby’s “to do” list for this week. I love that list and the fact that he asks me what he can do every week.
The total cost for this project, including new plants for the bed leading to the porch, was less than $100. Needless to say, it has gone a long way to create an inviting first impression. Even better than a first impression, is the retreat that it has been, whether it’s the few minutes of daily watering or lingering a little longer with a glass of blueberry tea and a good book.
It’s funny how layers of texture, color and different elements can help us peel back the layers of to do lists, frustrations and the stresses of the day. May your day be filled with such moments, regardless of the chaos swirling about.
I think it’s the different shapes in the mountains and the stream.
Or maybe it’s the textures from smooth rocks to rugged branches, from prickly pine needles to soft leaves.
Actually, it’s probably the colors from blues and browns to more hues of green than one can count.
Honestly, it’s the layers upon layers of each of these things. And so many more. It’s what draws us in to pause and savor the moment.
The same concept applies to so many situations. Layering accessories can take the classic little black dress from typical to stunning. Layering paints can bring depth and richness to a piece. Layering cheese upon cheese on a pizza …well, that’s another post. Layering shapes, textures, colors, sizes … It creates a cozy atmosphere in a room. It’s what makes you want to pause and linger awhile.
Last month I started working on sprucing up our front porch, to take it from builder-grade-acceptable to inviting and cozy.
First layer: a complete overhaul of the narrow bed between the garage and sidewalk leading to the porch. That space is now filled with several favorites: hydrangeas, hostas and classic spring favorites tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.
Next layer: some more potted plants to scatter about, a table lamp and some thrifted plaid galoshes.
Third layer: Fabrics! That one is always a favorite for me! After some input from my girls (always a good idea when I want them to enjoy our family space as much as I do) I found a colorful piece of duck cloth. I made an envelope pillow by cutting a long strip of fabric, from selvage to selvage, as wide as the pillow along with and extra inch for seams on both sides. I wrapped the fabric around the pillow to determine where to fold and overlap the fabric, then stitched up the sides (right sides together). Since the selvages were finished and they were going to be covered with a band of another fabric, there was no need to stitch the edges.
Just in case that wasn’t colorful enough, I decided to add two bands, because how could I possibly go wrong with another layer, right?!
The first one is a coordinating print with some chunky ric rac trim. You can see the narrow hem and single row of stitching down the center of the ric rac, I finished the long edges first, then wrapped it around the pillow to get the right measurement (adding 1″ for the seam) and stitched the short ends, right sides together.
The next layer was the same process, after I stamped and wrote a fun little phrase on it. Maybe next time I will print it in a fun subway art style. Time will tell! I like using the bands because they are so easy to switch out for different seasons, or when one starts looking a little tired.
A little waterproof spray to help it hold up a little better and it’s done.
All told it took about an hour or so and I have another colorful layer to add to the porch and soften the concrete and brick. There’s still one more layer to add this week.
And with each new layer the invitation to pause beckons louder. As does the need to accept that call and savor the moments.
If you live anywhere in the US, save South Florida, you’ve had a bit of snow this year. Having grown up in the Midwest, moving to South Florida was quite a shock to my system. The lack of snow and winter coats, bulky sweaters and fall leaves was quite a jolt for this four-season girl. Being closer to my geographical roots has been great fun, especially watching snow fall, but it has also required a bit of fine-tuning, on many levels. From wardrobe to home decor. Oddly enough the Caribbean decor doesn’t quite seem to fit here in the heart of the Bluegrass. Who knew?
So you will understand my excitement when I came across this sweater that had been my Mama’s.
Having lost Mom 5 years ago, I find comfort in having things scattered about our home that remind us of her. She was an extremely creative soul who loved sewing, decorating & finding great bargains. Some of those bargains included clothes that fit her personality perfectly, reminded me of her, but would never work for me… as a wardrobe item at least. Enter a little outside the box thinking, and you have this..
It was a perfect Sunday afternoon project. They are simple envelope pillows with a soft fleece envelope style opening in the back. Turns out, it’s a quick project for one of those snow days when it’s just too cold to head outside for one more round of sledding.
The first step was to square up the sweater to accommodate for my pillow forms and get the most use of the sweater. I cut up both side seams from the hem to the bottom of the arm piece.
To keep it straight, I used my rotary cutter and ruler to finish cutting the arm edge.
And again across the top of the sweater.
Because I had removed some of the knots from the heavier white yarn that ran through the design, I flipped the sweater over to the wrong side and tied off those loose strands. I didn’t want to finish the pillow just to have it start unraveling.
I chose some soft grey fleece to use for the back of the pillow. Why? It has a great body and texture to it and it’s soft and fuzzy, which is always a nice option for a pillow. But mostly, because it was in my fabric closet, and that’s just how I roll on this sort of a project.
I cut the fleece into two pieces for each pillow. When determining the measurements for your pillow back, just use the same width as your front piece and 1/2 the height + 3” to 4” per piece. This allows for a 1″ hem on the raw edge of the envelope back and a deep enough pocket for your pillow cover to fit your pillow form. The amount of fabric you add to that measurement depends on how deep you want your pocket to be. I have learned to make the pockets deeper than I think they need to be
I typically finish the edge with a 1/2″ double hem. To do that I fold the fabric under 1″ and press, then fold the raw edge under again and press. The result is two 1/2″ folds of fabric with no raw edge. I usually stitch this from the wrong side of the fabric 1/4″ away from the folded edge, so I can make sure I don’t miss the edge of the hem. Once one long edge of each back piece is hemmed, the pillow backs can be pinned to the front.
With the pillow front laying right side up, place the pillow backs, right side down, on the pillow front. Line up the raw edges of the front and back, overlapping the hemmed edges in the middle of the pillow. It should look like this.
Stitch along all four edges with a 1/2″ seam. At this point, you can add another row of straight or zig zag stitching to reinforce the seam, or enclose it in bias tape so seam tape if you are concerned about raveling. Turn your pillow cover right side out and insert your pillow form and you’re done. I love being able to quickly remove pillow covers to wash them and freshen them up with little effort. It’s as simple as that.
Our winter pillows have been a perfect way for us to enjoy snow this winter. And we don’t have to shovel it or tromp through it to get the mail. It also serves as a great diversion when your week has been chock full of snow days.
Years ago, Steve was pastoring a small church and we decided that we wanted to give every family a gift for Christmas.
Hmm… I was homeschooling our four little ones at the time, to be read “not a lot of extra time or money from an extra income to work with here”.
Hmm… We wanted something that would involve the kids help to, so it could truly be from all of us.
Hmm… After some deliberation, and a bit of panic, we finally came up with an idea that we thought would work. We had so much fun with it that it is one we have continued with for years.
We loved baking Christmas cookies & hosted a huge cookie decorating party every year for lots of friends (more on that later). We decided to make up a cookie mix and slip it into some fabric gift bags. I found some fabric that first year when the Christmas prints went on sale and got to work. A 12″ x 12″ square seemed to be the perfect size. With a straight stitch down the side & bottom, and pinking shears across the top, they were cut & stitched up in one evening. As I recall it felt like quite an accomplishment at the time, since there were about 60 of them, between church, neighbors, family, co-op teachers …. Steve designed the tags that year on the computer, but at some point I started doing those, with his input and assistance as needed.
We made snicker doodles that year. One of Steve’s favorites. It was a recipe that would fit in the bag, didn’t set us back too much financially and the kids could help. We set up an assembly line with each person adding a specific ingredient. We also decided that it would be in the best interest of our gift-receivers to have a bit of “quality control” for the youngest ones, naturally. There were a few stressful moments, but we deemed it such a success that we stuck with that main idea for years. Other recipes included: sugar cookies tied with cookie cutters, French breakfast puffs, berry cream muffins, biscuits and banana chip muffins.
Last summer I found a great price on strawberries and blueberries and decided it was the perfect time to start canning. Hours later, this was the result..
Well, technically, this was the next day, when we unanimously decided that all that jam called for some of Grandma’s biscuits. Guess what went in the bags? And what was delivered beside each bag?
May you enjoy your day, and find time for a fresh baked treat in the midst of it!
With a polar front sweeping across much of the US this week, here’s a throwback from last fall. Here’s to fleece, football, frothy mugs of hot chocolate and all things fall!
I love fall!
The leaves floating gently down
The crisp in the air.
The crunch of leaves underfoot.
The Friday night lights.
The families & friends rooting wildly for the home team.
The bundling up under blankets as we cheer on our favorite D-end.
I try really hard not to be “that Mom”. You know her. The one who screams like a banshee when her child does something on the field (court, mat, stage…) Somehow, I can reign it in for basketball & wrestling.
But, football? Nah! Never gonna happen. Out there in the open air, surrounded by the other Mamas, and Dads and siblings and girlfriends and … Nah! There’s no reigning it in when our guys take the field. We love our football family!
But there is that one particular #23 who stands a little taller in this Mama’s heart. Not because of his athletic prowess, though that is there.. but because he’s ours.
Of all the dreadful things to do, showing up at a game without the school colors ranks right up there near the top. It’s right behind showing up in the other teams colors. Gasp! My solution, you ask?
Why stitching up a little team spirit, of course. With a slightly larger focus on my guy. A main requirement of this football fleece? That it be unique & a little more meaningful than the usual tied fleece. Apparently, I was rather caught up in the excitement of the process and didn’t take many pictures along the way. I’ll share the few I have & try to talk you through the rest…
There are loads of tutorials on how to print on fabric. My favorite method is cheap & easy, because that’s just how we roll around here. I have a big roll of freezer paper in my drawer & I started by cutting off an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece. For most of the projects I have done I either used a white broadcloth or even an old sheet. I want to branch out into some more textured fabrics, but that’s an adventure for another day. I ironed the sticky side of the freezer paper to what would become the backside of my white fabric. Be sure to use high heat and no steam for the best results. Then I trimmed the fabric to 8 1/2″ x 11″.
Next step? I selected, edited and sized my pictures to fit the freezer-papered fabric (I think I just coined a new adjective there!) I then inserted my freezer-papered fabric, with the appropriate side up, into my printer and pressed print. Voila! That’s it! Tough, huh?
Here is the collection of pictures I used for my boy. It includes some of his memorable tackles & QB sacks *insert “Go Nate” squeal*, some team shots, and some wrestling pins & a trophy *insert a more socially-acceptable-we-were-inside-the-gym “Go Nate” squeal*.
After I printed them out, I trimmed them all up to the same height, spaced them evenly, overlapped the sides edges and ran a wide zig zag stitch between them to make a long strip. I found some great black ribbon with white stitching on the edges that almost made the collection look like an old-school strip of negatives. I stitched that ribbon down one side of each photo, separating them from each other.
I made this blanket double thickness and extra large, big enough to cover a twin bed & keep both my hubby and I warm at the games. The next step was to lay it out on the bed and find where to place the picture strip so it would land at the foot of the bed, and not down near the floor. I pinned the strip in place and stitched the other side of the ribbon on each picture to the fleece. Now they were secured on the blanket where I wanted them. At this point I added the ribbon all around the edge, folding creatively at each corner to get the mitered look I wanted.
To finish the blanket I laid the second piece of fleece right side down and centered the picture fleece right side up over it. I wanted the edges finished so I had cut the picture piece (the front of the blanket) a few inches larger all the way around, so I could fold it over and stitch. So, I pinned and stitched the front & back together.
I laid the finished product out to inspect it and found myself doing a little happy dance. It was not completely unlike the post touchdown / post wrestling pin / post swoosh shot dance that I have been known to do. I love it when a project turns out to be as great, or even better, than the one I started with in my head. It’s not a luxury I always enjoy. Smile
This little blanket has proven itself to be very helpful in keeping my hubby and I warm this season, except for those times when we leap up, dance about & scream wildly because our guys scored another touchdown. But hey, we scoop it up off the bleachers & I can just toss it in the wash and we’re ready for the next game. This week happens to be round three of the state play-offs. Guess where we will be? Let’s go!
* If you’re not up for such an undertaking, you can always print off a picture of your pride-and-joy and add it to an already finished blanket, or pillow, or…. the possibilities are endless.
**We ended up losing to the team that took states last year. But as @HCHSDevilsFB tweeted, “That was maybe the most gutty performance I have ever seen from a high school football team. No one gave us a chance but we made em sweat! Only 1 team will win their last game but if you gotta lose, you lose while playing your guts out and leaving it all out on the field!”