Friday, December 21, 2012

Wisconsin Weather

Yesterday I had my work computer at home and worked from the kitchen table.  Fun, right?

Ha!  No hot filtered water for my tea, no M&Ms in the desk drawer, no one with which to chat about stuff after the grands went to school, and no big snowstorm!! 

The weather people said we were supposed to be getting somewhere between 6 and 12 inches of blowing, drifting snow, and blizzard conditions, some time on Thursday.  The portion of Southeast Wisconsin below the I94 freeway had a weather watch or whatever starting Wednesday night.  So some of us who could work from home took our computers and lugged them out to the cars, and had our phonecalls transferred to our cell phones, etc.  We made lots of arrangements.

Because, after all, the Weather People said don't travel if you don't have to... especially west of the City.

My hairdresser called and moved my appointment from 5:30 p.m. up to 2:30 p.m. so she could go home early.  I understand that one.  Her car was rear-ended in the first snow of the season last week.  Yeah, that was the one where we were reminded about how we are supposed to drive in the winter.

So, the big storm?

Check it out.
The view from my 'home office' at about 2 p.m.

OK, it finally started to snow about 3:30 in the afternoon.  We have about 3 inches in the driveway this morning.  But a blizzard?  Not so much.

I'm disappointed.

The area around the state capitol got about 18 inches.  Now that's a blizzard!!

Sew on!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On Again, Off Again...

I'm so sorry not to be blogging more often!  If you're checking here for news, I apologize for past and near future lack of content.  Here's what's been going on.

Children's Christmas Program:  our Sunday School angels were practicing non-stop since the beginning of December on their songs and parts for last Sunday's performance at the 10:45 a.m. church service.  The rehearsals were somewhat challenging to say the least!  One small person fainted and hit his head with a resounding smack on Saturday, then threw up in the hall.  He recovered enough to come back and perform on Sunday.

The kids all sang nice and loudly after the Pastor said he thought he could sing louder all by himself than they could.  They instantly rose to the challenge!!  The preschoolers/kindergartners did their little rendition of Away in a Manger with hand signs and got a round of applause.  They always steal the show.

My younger brother on the east coast has been diagnosed with ALS.  He's gone downhill pretty fast.  He has lost the ability to carry on long conversations, and he was released from the rehab facility after his benefits ran out.  Hopefully he'll get some help from the VA, since he was in the Navy in the 80's.  That made me very sad.  I want to finish up a quilt and send it to him, since I can't travel out there any time soon.

Christmas is coming in one week and I still have a few things to buy/make.  I have made a ton of clothes again this year for those 18" dolls, and exchanged a boxful of cute outfits for a Joann's gift certificate with a lady at church.

Our ladies Bible study class finished up the year with a little party at Melody's.  There were lots of yummy things to eat and we finished up the subject we were working on.  There was much discussion of the events of last Friday in Connecticut.  Evil is everywhere, and you have to guard your heart against it.

One of our ladies fell at church on Sunday and in trying to catch herself she dislocated both shoulders and broke a bone in both a shoulder and a hand.  She's been immobilized until she sees the orthopedic physician, with ace-type bandages around her torso until the swelling goes down.  Poor thing, she spent nearly the entire day at the emergency room!  She's in our thoughts and prayers.  Folks are sending in meals and running errands for her.

The tree is up, the lights are working, the girls hung ornaments.  My wonderful son-in-law is cooking the meats for Christmas Eve dinner, so all I have to do is thaw the cheesecake and make side dishes.  That will be helpful because I am the Wardrobe Mistress for the live nativity play at 3:30 and 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve!! 

Mary, Joseph, shepherds and three Wise Men will need headdresses tied and robes secured.  We bring in live donkeys and goat and tell the Wonderful Story.  It's funny how the smells of Christmas change when you do this type of thing, but it is close to what the first one must have been!  Not piney like a live tree, or minty like a candy cane, but pungent, like a stable full of animals.

Additionally, work is picking up... December 28 is the end of the quarter!

 So friends, if you look for an update and don't find one,  know that I am thinking about you, and working on some projects, and enjoying my family and the holidays.

By the way, it's finally snowing in southeast Wisconsin.  Yay!!

Bless you and yours this season.

Sew on!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Garland is Hung!

Last night I finished my special office garland, and today during the lunch hour I hung it up...  My cube is on a row end, with a frosted pane of glass at the top.  Perfect for viewing anything from either side.
What I see from inside...
What you see from the outside.
Do you think there's any chance of winning the decorating contest??  LOL!  Only about four or five cubes are decorated at all.  I think my chances are better than average.  I wish I had remembered to bring the small clippies, then I could have done a better job of fastening these to the glass.  Maybe tomorrow.

Here are a few from others.

The probable front-runner, so far.
The view from one aisle over.
Someone hung these beauties with some lights.

A good decoration for a guest office???
 Happy Aaron Rodgers Day, Wisconsin!
and sew on...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy Holidays! And Sew On...

I work in an office with about 100 engineers, scientists, planners and technical people.  Our office is kind of modern, although we're in an older building.  We have lots of gray and white surfaces, black textured carpet square and funky blue and green accessories.  And of course the obligatory office machines, boxes of copy paper and other festive items.

Can you see the stuff in the background???
We have a holiday pot luck luncheon and people can decorate their cubicles for special occasions if they wish.  Imagine what types of decorations the average scientist will come up with...

Although I have come to realize that if you string ANYTHING together in a long streamer, it has become acceptable to call it garland...

We all have stockings hung by Santa's elves on our cube entrances and doors.  And they did a lovely job on the tree in the lobby.  We even have a couple of Santa's reindeer hanging around.

I was sewing some small nine-patch blocks the other night and thought how cool would that look if I string them together and hang them on point??  Hey, I can decorate my cube wall with these and look festive and different from paper clips!  AND be totally unique, because I have to tell you very few of the staff in this office can sew a stitch!


I'm going to finish them up tonight and hopefully hang them tomorrow.

Sew on!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Small Projects this Month

Since returning to work from my little hospital jaunt, I've been working on some small projects.  Well, you know I posted about finishing up the baptismal gown... and I made some more 18" doll outfits for a little girl at church.

In addition to that I've been chipping away at my BIG bin of 2" strips and 2" squares.

I had the grandkids sorting out piles of squares into sets of four or sets of two or sets of five, and putting the rest of the squares back into two bins -- one with singles and one with more than on but not four or five -- we just called that one "many".

The twos were matched with light backgrounds for four-patch blocks.  The fives will go with four backgrounds into nine-patch blocks.  And the fours will either go into nine-patch blocks with five backgrounds, OR they will contribute to my new leader/ender projects of spools.

The pink and white block is four spools made with my 2 inch squares and strips.  The finished block is around nine inches in size.  The blue block at the right was made of pieces that were originally one and a half inches wide.  It is tiny.

I made that one because Bonnie Hunter was talking about her spool project and that was her size.  The finished block is like 3 inches square!  Very cute but you'd have to make like a zillion of them to make a bed-sized quilt!  Maybe I'll make a couple dozen and make that 18" doll a quilt...

Anyway, I'm making spools and putting them into one color combos of four, and eventually I think I'll have some sort of rainbow arrangement.  But I discovered that I have a LOT of blue scraps.

Hmm... maybe another blue and white--  no, no, stop me.  Everything I do lately seems to be blue and white.

 Well, it's no wonder the bin is full of blues...

Sew on!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas -- the Focus

Be prepared, this post is a Christian message.  It's my blog, and I'm putting it out there.  My hope is that if you are not a Christian and you read this, you will not be offended.  It's not intended to offend, it is a statement of my belief. 

In our church, the smaller children get a little mini-message based on the gospel lesson for the day and then they go into 'children's church' for a Bible video instead of hearing the sermon.  This gives them a message at their level, and lets parents at least have the opportunity to pay attention during the sermon.

Various people do the children's message but most often it's the Director of Christian Education.  Who just happens to be off on a maternity leave this month.  So I was asked as Director of Sunday School to deliver the message last week.

The Gospel was in Luke chapter 21 and it was about preparing for the coming of Christ and not letting  yourself be discouraged or distracted.   The kids I was going to be talking to were below the age of 8, many under 5. 

Here's what I came up with... edited for my 'over the age of 8' followers.

Me:  What does Advent mean?  We've been talking about this in Sunday school, right?
Kids:  Something good is going to happen.
Me:  Yes!  The word itself means 'coming'... something or someone is coming.  What's coming? 
Kids:  Christmas!! 
Me:  What is Christmas?
Kids:  Jesus' birthday!!
Me:  Right!  We celebrate his first coming with Christmas.  He came to live with us.  Here's another word we should know:  distractions.  What are distractions? 
Kids:  Things that distract you?
Me: Yes... it's the opposite of focus.  Do you know what focus means?
Kids:   Many little heads shake up and down for yes!  It's when you really pay attention!
Me:  Here's a list of things that could distract us this time of year:  (I hold up photos or drawings of the following):
  • decorations for our homes and offices
  • Christmas cookies
  • turkey dinner
  • presents
  • gift list
  • television set
  • sports equipment
The kids all recognize those things and shake their heads enthusiastically that yes, those things are distractions.

Me:  Now, do you think these distractions are good things or bad things?
Kids:  Good... well they could be good or bad... but mostly good.  We like presents!  And cookies!
Me:  What do you think our focus should be on Christmas?  What is the greatest gift the world (and we) have ever received?
Kids:     JESUS!!
Me:  Yes!  And where does Jesus live?
Kids:     IN OUR HEARTS!
Me:  You are so right!  Did you ever hear the expression "Jesus is the reason for the season"?
Kids:  some yes, some no.
Me:  Let's keep our focus on Jesus this Christmas -- while we are eating cookies and having parties and getting and giving presents let's not forget the greatest gift we'll ever receive.

Here's a picture I found on Facebook.
We were talking about secular Christmas last night at our ladies' study group.  We know that with political correctness it's less and less about Christ and more and more about Santa.  We have to say Happy Holidays at work so we don't offend anyone.  That's too bad in my opinion.  Not that I don't enjoy a holiday as well as the next person, but I want to share the special joy of Christmas and its real meaning.

As a Christian, I believe that God desires all people to go to heaven.  My church teaches and I believe that the only way to get there is through Christ.  I believe he came for everyone, everywhere.  When I get to heaven I want all my friends to be there too. 

There used to be bumper stickers that said "Jesus is the answer".  Some funny guy said "What is the question?"  Can he really be the answer to everything?  I'd never force it on you, but if something is missing in your life, if you are searching for something, maybe you could open the Bible and read Luke, or any of the other chapters.  I hope you check it out and give it consideration.

If one person is comforted by the message, I consider it worth the risk of someone taking offense.  Whatever your belief system, I wish you well.  But I really would prefer to wish you Merry Christmas!

Sew on...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Baptismal Gown Update

Took the day off on Wednesday to bake some pies for Thanksgiving, and to finish up a few projects.

Yes, I did it!  I finished the baby's baptismal gown made from the wedding dress.  And guess what I forgot to do... I never took a photo of the final product!   Duh... after working on that project for months, I was down to the wire with the skirt, sewing like mad and trying to get it ready to deliver on Wednesday evening.  I did a final press, put it on a hanger, put a bag over it, and ran out the door.

All the ladies at church who knew I was working on it were oooo-ing and ahhhh-ing over it... it was a thing of beauty! 

I will try to catch a photo of the baby wearing it on Sunday when she is baptized.  I know all four of my followers are waiting to see it.  I am so sorry, and I feel so dumb!

Look for an update on Sunday!

Sew on...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks

Every Sunday when I hold my five minute opening in Sunday School, I talk about something important to the children, or what's coming up.  The last couple of weeks have been about things for which we should be thankful.  They have mentioned parents, friends, toys, warm clothes, toys, food, toys, Jesus, and turkey!

We did a food pantry basket, and they brought in cans of beans and bags of rice and stuffing, but they wanted to give turkey.  We talked about how we can't do that because turkeys are frozen or fresh and they will spoil.  We decided to give some of our offering money to the pantry to buy turkeys.

Because, hey, it's all about the

They're learning that not everyone has enough to eat this time of year, or throughout the year.  They have generous little hearts and that makes them sad.

Wherever you are, I hope you have enough.  To eat, to do, to care about, to believe in.

But don't forget the

If you go shopping, take your time.  Enjoy the tradition but don't be mean or get in the way of any mean people.  Have fun.  Be thankful, remember those who are less fortunate.  Love your family and when you get home, don't forget to eat some


Friday, November 16, 2012

Machine Embroidery

Do you have an embroidery sewing machine?  I do... I think I may have blogged about that early on.

I used to be an embroidery snob -- thought it had to be done by hand on fine linen to be right.  Then I got into silk ribbon embroidery for a while.  I branched out into doing that on denim and on baby knits.  Those little onesies can be so darn cute!

I finally broke down and got a machine several years back.  Having this very low end Brother satisfies my need to do embroidery, now that I've embraced this art!  But the stabilizer market is crazy with names and types and brands, don't you think?  I was using something to do my church's baptismal napkins.  It was sticky so I could embroider Irish linen without hooping it to death and it washed away.

I tried to order some more but they stopped making it or something... oh my gosh why does this always happen??!! 

In October I saw an ad for the local Ben Franklin store promoting a Floriani seminar.  Well, if anyone knows embroidery, it's Floriani, right?  Their logo says so!

I signed up and was so excited to get their expert opinion about everything machine embroidery related.  And boy did I get lots of opinions!!  The educator was knowledgeable but she moved so fast, I was furiously writing notes on my samples and the list we got, trying to figure out what I should use instead of what I was using.

My brain was spinning!  It didn't help that is was late afternoon on a Friday and only my second day back to work from the surgery.  But I diligently wrote down what I thought were the main points I needed to know.  About halfway through the 4 hours, she switched to talking about software and designs.  After that I was kind of brain dead anyway, and I don't love-love-love every 50,000 stitch design I've seen, so I kind of tuned out a little.

The main thing I got was that you can go to the Floriani website and use their stabilizer workbook to help you decide how much stabilizer and what kind you should use on a project.  And that they recommend one layer for every 10,000 stitches in your design.

So while I could not be induced to spend $1800 on the software, or $289 on a box with one roll of every kind of stabilizer, I did manage to spend more than I thought was possible on four rolls of various melt away and/or sticky stuff to use when I embroider a small scallop shell on an Irish linen napkin.

I'm hoping to try them out this weekend.

Oh, and in case you're wondering whether I thought this was worthwhile, I have to say YES, I did!!  I came away with a sample, labeled, of almost ALL of the Floriani stabilizers, ten gorgeous spools of polyester embroidery thread, four CDs of designs and a couple of other things which were all free with the price of admission. 

And by the way, no one paid me to write anything about Floriani and I'm not employed by them or anyone in the embroidery world.  I work for engineers, boring and colorless most of the time.  (Kidding, guys, I love my job!!)  But everyone gotta do something, so I work for engineers during the day and live my creative life on weekends!
What color is your life??

Sew on!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Phone Guy's Wife Blocks

Have you been following the Barrister's Block blog and watching everyone do fabulous things with their fabrics?  I have!  There were a couple of colorways featured this week.  I loved the black and white, and the red and white and the blue and cheddar. 

Randy was looking for pictures of everyone elses blocks so I sent mine.  Within seconds, it seems, she posted my blocks on her blog!  If you want to see them, and others, go to the Barrister's Block link on the right where the blogs I follow are listed, and take a trip over there.

I recognized some of the fabrics from the black and white group...  Hey, I have a tub of B&W, why don't I just start another project???  LOL!

I have to get finished with the baptismal dress.  The baby arrived today!  Her name is Linnea Grace, and she's beautiful... lots of hair, and her proud Gramma has already sent me pictures.

Life is so good, isn't it?  New babies always make me feel that way.  No matter what else happens today, I see it as a sign that God still loves us.

Hope you have a wonderful day.  Look for pictures of the finished gown sometime within the next couple of days to a week. 

Sew on!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Follow Up to Light Sewing

I'm happy to say that after the craft fair was over, Jean, Vicki and I were able to donate over $200 to the Little Lambs Academy security system fund.  MOST of it was Jean.  She invited us to sew because she didn't think she had enough to fill a table, but she did such cute things!

She makes these adorable bags to hold your cell phone and a few dollars if you don't want to carry a purse.  Plus she makes fabulous pillows.

I sold half a dozen of the small bags to stash things in your big purse.  The big hit of the day was the denim bag that had the zipper ends as decoration!

Hmmm, maybe I will build a collection for the next craft fair! 

Sew on!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Little Light Sewing!

While I was off work on my medical leave, I was looking for some small projects to occupy a little time and not strain the brain, or other organs.

Before I went to the hospital, one of the church ladies called and asked if I would like to make some things for the craft fair on November 3.  Now I had planned to do some reading, some knitting, and not too much else.  But I felt better after about a week, and wanted to just BE in my sewing space.  I'm sure some of you know the feeling, when you've been gone for a while.

I had grand plans.  I was going to finish up my 'fix it' pile (I hate the term "mending"...).  I was even going to refashion a lovely jacket I bought that was several sizes too large.  Needless to say, I did a few fix-it projects and quickly tired of that.  I did sew badges on the Daisy vest for Miss A.  But I was itching to CREATE.
Now, I've posted about my extensive book and pattern collection, and about my church quilting group's receipt of boxes of drapery samples in the past.  What could possibly bring these two together?  

Hmmm... remember that bag of zippers I got at the fantastically priced web site  Oh yeah, I decided to channel Mary Mulari! 

Bags for various things, using drapery fabric, old denim, and some remnants of faux suede and other fabrics.  Note the denim bag with the red/white/black trim... those are the discarded tail ends of zippers, strictly for show!
I had lent my book to someone so I was working from memory, but I have done Mary's flat zipper technique a bunch of times, so it came quickly back after the first try.  I had some patterns and some I just 'faked'.  How can you go wrong with a rectangle or a square.

The bag at the top is a fussy-cut circle from a particularly pretty sample piece.  Here it is a little more close up.

Also in the first picture are these bags, from a piece I really liked.  There's just something about roses...

These will hold glasses, cosmetics, whatever, and look pretty doing it!
Here are a bunch in some black striped fabric left over from a pair of trousers I made (who knows when?  but I kept the pieces!)

The front bag is black denim from a pair of worn jeans, as is the fourth one back.  The trims are bits left over from a quilt binding or two.  The pulls are tiny strips cut from a piece of faux suede.  The piece is folded in half and the fold gets pulled through the hole in the zipper pull and looped over the ends.  Tighten up and you're good to go!

There will be about 25 of these for sale at the church craft and book fair on Saturday.  If you're in New Berlin, Wisconsin, stop by and pick up a few.  The proceeds from the sale will benefit the preschool.  We have to pay for the new security system.

Oh, and I also made Miss A's Halloween costume.  She wanted to be a ghost.  Spooky but not TOO spooky!!

Here she is with big sisters Bumble Bee and Mad Hatter! 

Sew on!

Monday, October 22, 2012


OK, so my gallbladder surgery is over, no complications, things are fine as far as that goes.  I had a one inch stone, but lucky for me things came out the small incisions, and there were no smaller stones that traveled anywhere!

It's funny, I was sliding onto the table, being introduced to the eight or nine people in the room, Dr. Cutie the anesthesiologist was hooking up the IV tubes, and the next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery.  I had a warm blanket and my nurse was telling me that everything went super well.

Suffice it to say I was home by 2 p.m. day of surgery. I think my discharge may have been hustled up just a bit by the nurse who had to clean up the rather rude ejection of jello and juice from my stomach. Word to the wise: If they try to give you the orange stuff, just pass, OK? And the apple juice -- never my favorite and way too sweet.

When I picked up my packet of stuff to leave the hospital, there was a photo in the folder.  UGH!!  There's a picture of the stone inside me in the packet!  Who thought that THAT was a good idea??  OK, I hear that some folks bring home their kidney stones and make chotchkes out of them.  But why??  Good news for you guys, I am NOT going to publish that any time soon!!

Once home on the couch and resting nicely, I ate a bagel and rested.  I was carefully inspected by the five year old when she got off the bus from school.  "Let me see your tummy, please!  Why do you have all these band aides?"  After deciding that they'd left enough of me to please her just fine, she went off to have a snack with the dinosaurs and Gramps in the kitchen, and I went back to resting.

They don't make big incisions anymore unless they really need to remove something large, but they made a LOT of them.  Everyone who knows me knows I love mysteries and police procedurals and all of the CSI shows.  I remarked that I felt more like a victim of multiple stab wounds than a recovering patient.

So for the past couple of days I have done some catch up homework on a class I'm taking, knitted a few simple scarves on big needles with cool yarn, and read a novel almost all the way through...

For those of you concerned with Stephanie Plum's well being, she is still losing cars and getting the evil eye from Grandma Bella and having frequent hot s-- well, suffice it to say I have Eighteen and Nineteen waiting on the shelf.

I also received an order from Connie at Stampin' Up with which I will probably make some thank you cards.  My boss send flowers that arrived early on Saturday because the delivery person is in the neighborhood...

DH raked leaves today, and I'm thinking about some fall themes.  You can pop over to Connie's web page at the right side under Blog Links.  She's very creative, I'm thinking of things I can do from her vast list of projects while I'm housebound!

Meanwhile, I'm retiring to the reading chair with Stephanie #18 and a small supply of Painless Pills, the chocolate variety...  because tomorrow I have to get the sewing machine out to sew on the Daisy and Girl Scout patches.


Keep on sewing...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's Looking Like a Dress!

I worked on my wedding gown conversion project last weekend.  I have to say it's been scary and fun, all at the same time.

I know wedding gowns cost a lot of money these days.  When I got married over 40 years ago, I spent more than a week's wages on my dress.  Knowing you're only going to wear it once makes it seem kind of frivolous, but brides everywhere feel they must have THE dress! 

Cutting into the dress with which I was entrusted was a bit intimidating.  It was only the former bride's desire to have a dress for her daughter that made me even dare to take up my Ginghers and make the first cut.

The skirt on this baby gown is a large rectangle.  Well, two actually, one front and one back.  The gown itself as you can see from the photo had panels that angled out from the bodice and flared at the hem.  So the first challenge was finding enough yardage to cut the pieces of the long skirt.

Did you know that in the early Irish Catholic church there was a saying that went something like "may the baby's life be as long as the skirt on its baptismal gown"?  That's why the traditional gown had a skirt that covered way more than baby's tiny toes!

This dress has a 1 1/4 inch hem, and the skirt is going to be a bit more flared than the pattern calls for.  You can see that there was about an inch extra at the hem.  There are going to be seams in the skirt that aren't in the pattern, but I had to work with what I had.  The skirt will be covered with lace anyway, so it won't be noticeable.


The small pieces of bodice and sleeves fit easily into the pieces left after the skirt was cut out.
Before insertion -- the sleeve cap being gathered to a 3 inch length!  Such a small pice but such a big impact...

The sleeves on this dress have an interior cap that holds up the extreme puffiness.  Once those were sewn in, the sleeve stood up perfectly.

This is the back (buttonholes to be sewn in on the left) and below is the front, just needing some elastic in the lower edge of the sleeve.

The pin is holding on a motif cut from the skirt.  There were many shapes, I cut the one I thought was the most symmetrical, and that wouldn't overwhelm the small bodice.

The bow on the front was on the bodice of the wedding gown, and Mom specifically requested that I reuse it.

This is a close up of the trim I put around the neckline.  It's a bit shiny and sparkly to coordinate with the beads and sequins on the lace overlay I'll be using.

All that remains now is to finish the skirt... which means laying out the lace from the bridal gown and finding the right pieces to make the overlay for the baby gown.  This is going to be a bit challenging since the lace has both vertical and horizontal seams, needed in order to make the edging go both around the hem and up the front.
I'm mulling over that one for a bit.  The baby's due in November but Mom says they're planning on having the baptism around Thanksgiving.
I'll have a couple of weeks to work undisturbed, since I will be home bound starting on Thursday of this week, for about two weeks.
Keep your fingers crossed that what I make looks as good as what I took apart!
Sew on!