Friday, November 24, 2017


Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.  
                                                        Henry Clay

If you live here in the U.S., or if you don't, but enjoy celebrating a day of Thanksgiving, I hope that you have enjoyed a wonderful meal, and maybe some time spent with family and friends. 

For me, it has been a bit of a trying week. 

The surgery that my dog Gracie had for the broken blood vessel in her ear, it seems was not done correctly and caused a huge problem. We were out of town, but found a wonderful vet who ended up doing emergency surgery. Leaving her in the office, crying for me, absolutely broke my heart. When I got home, I sat down at the kitchen table, put my head in my arms and just cried. We were able to pick her up that evening, and she and I have not been apart since. I am so very grateful for such a kind, caring, and knowledgeable veterinarian.  

We had friends visit for Thanksgiving. I love to make special meals on holidays, so I began the day with Cottage Pancakes with Roasted Strawberries. My new oven evidently cooks at a very high heat as the strawberries boiled over the side of the pan and burned the bottom. It was an absolute mess. My girlfriend and I worked, and worked, and worked at trying to get the burned sugar off of the bottom of the oven. I was in a bit of a panic as I needed to cook the turkey and I didn't want to heat the oven and burn the sugar even more. She said, "No problem, we'll just cook the turkey on the grill." We ended up cooking the turkey, sweet potatoes, and the asparagus on the grill. OMG!!!! everything was soooo good. The only thing that was missing was the pie, but we were all very satisfied, so the pie really wasn't missed.

In the course of putting our dinner together, I managed to stop up the sink by putting potato skins down the disposal. Evidently you aren't supposed to put potato skins down a disposal. I had no idea! One thing that my husband absolutely hates is plumbing issues. When I saw the sink back up, I said, "Oh my, Carl is going to have a fit!" My girlfriend said that it might go down, so just leave it for a bit. We had managed to keep him out of the kitchen, but when we went out to check on the grill, I looked through the window and there he was at the sink. My heart sank. In 33 years of marriage, he has only lost his temper twice, and I thought for sure this would be the third time, but he kept his cool, and even took dishes down to the basement to wash until we could get something done with the kitchen drain. 

While he was in the basement washing dishes, my girlfriend and I began working on the drain, pouring in baking soda and vinegar, and plunging it. I worked and worked at it and then miracle of miracles, it suddenly went swoosh!, and it was over. My girlfriend and I looked at each other in disbelief, but we did it! But then, the thought occurred to me that all the plunging may have broken the pipe and everything was in the bottom of the cabinet. Nope, it had all gone through smoothly :) She and I have known each other for 35 years, and during that time have done some pretty crazy things. I told her that we can now add plumbers to our list of abilities ;) We are not available for hire!!!

During the course of everything, I managed to run into a cabinet and break a toe. That is more aggravating than anything. Hurts, but hardly the end of the world. 

The quote that I began this post with rings so true for me. A veterinarian that said, "I'm just doing my job." No, not just doing her job, she saved my dog and healed my heart. A friend who stays calm when everything seems to be going wrong, who treats my home with the same importance as if it was hers, and steps up to help when it really isn't her problem. A husband who realized that I was already upset and didn't want to add insult to injury, a blessing beyond measure. Yes, to the one who is giving, it may seem like a small, trivial act, but to the one who is receiving, the gifts really do strike deeply in the heart. And, I am so very grateful.

I have said it before, but gratitude can never be expressed enough...
A heartfelt thank you to all of you who take the time to stop by, read my words, maybe leave a message, or send a note. You warm my heart and remind me of the wonderful gift this life truly is.

Gracie and me :) After she came home, the incision in the middle of her ear began to bleed a bit. I put a band-aide over it and now she won't let me take it off as it's rather stuck to the stays that have been sewn into her ear. Oh well, I'll eventually get it off.       

May you too experience blessings that strike deeply in your heart.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Fabulous Free Pattern Friday/The Cabbage Rose

Something a little sweet today, a beautiful cabbage rose. They look rather complicated, but are quite easy to make.

All it takes are a few rectangles and a circle.  

They look lovely on a hat, bag, pinned to a coat or jacket.

They can be scaled down. Decrease the measurements by 2" and you'll have a smaller rose. You can also increase the measurements by 2" for a larger rose. 

So, have a little fun and let your imagination run wild with all the possibilities. You can even make a bouquet for an arrangement that will brighten your home all winter long!


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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thrifty Thursday/Super Cute Slouchy Hat

I have done a LOT of dumb things in my life ;) When I was in the 8th grade, I remember one particular day when it was so cold that I thought my ears would literally fall off of my head. Truth be told, had that happened, it would have been my own fault as I was just too vain to wear a hat on my head while walking to school. That day was a game changer though. As I walked, and my ears grew colder and colder, I vowed that I would never be this cold again, and yes, I would wear a hat. 

At the time, hats were just not the thing to wear, but after my experience, fashion or not, I was going to be warm. And so it has been ever since. I LOVE hats!!! If you were to look into my drawer, you would probably think I have more than 1 head since I have as many as I do. I have changed a lot since those days when I thought hats were horribly hideous. Having a hat for whatever the occasion may be is now just absolute fun! And soft hats fold down to nothing, so having a bunch is really not an issue. 

I recently saw a post from On The Cutting Room Floor for a free slouchy hat pattern and thought it was especially cute. A great little hat to wear, and when off, easily folded and stored in a coat pocket. It's intended for knit fabric, be it fleece, wool, or just a knit that you have left over from a t-shirt project. 


There are only 6 pages to print out, so quick and easy.

The pattern looks a little like church steeples to me ;)

I had a sweater that I had felted. I love the color and thought it would make into a fun hat. 

The sweater had side seams, so I couldn't cut the hat in one continuous piece, 

So I just cut it down the center and then added seam allowances to each side. 

I used the hem of the sweater for the bottom band. The instructions say to fold up the bottom 1 1/2". In the above picture, you can see that I placed the pattern right on the edge of the sweater, making it actually an 1 1/2" longer since I would not be turning up the bottom.If you aren't using a sweater with a finished edge, I would add at least 1" to the bottom of the pattern. You can always cut it off if you feel the hat is a little too long. But, it is supposed to be a slouchy hat, so a little more slouch is not such a bad thing :)  

I decided to have a little fun with the hat and add a tassel. All I did was take a piece of my sweater knit and cut it into fringe, leaving about 1 " at the top uncut. I then rolled the fringe around to make a tassel and stitched it securely together at the top. Once it was stitched together so that it would not open up, I then stitched it to the top of the hat.  

This is a very fast project, and something that would make a great, quick gift for just about everyone on your gift list. I made one for my husband, but shortened it so that there was no slouch. He loved it!

You can find the free pattern HERE

I plan on making a few more. A trip to the resale shop is on my agenda. Hopefully I'll find some fun sweaters that I can use. Our church usually has a request for hats, and or gloves at this time of year, so I thought I would use the pattern to make up a bunch. 


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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Wednesday Showcase/Creating Couture Embellishments

As I began my early morning writing today, I wanted to write about all of the things that I am feeling down about. Do you ever have those days when just EVERYTHING seems like a burden and more than you can bear? I think we all do. So rather than sit and complain, I decided, NO, NO!, I am going to focus on the good, and regardless of the bad, there is always lots of good :) 

I have been especially upset over my dog. The surgery was last Thursday. We were back at the vet's office on Monday and again yesterday to drain blood from her ear. I had been told to keep the cone on her neck for the next 3 weeks, but the poor dog has been shaking her head so much that it causes the blood to form and keep the ear from healing. So yesterday I decided to take the cone off and see what would happen. Ironically, she is not scratching at her ear, and is shaking her head less, so fingers crossed that we are on the road to recovery. Sometimes ya just gotta go with your gut instinct! 

Now for something truly happy! 

If you have never met Ellen Miller of Creating Couture Embellishment, you are in for a great big treat! She is a wife, mother of 2, a sewist, teacher and an author. Sewing is truly a passion. Ellen loves the entire process, from taking a piece of paper or muslin, creating a pattern, and then moving on to the fabric. She loves the magic of giving voice to the wearer's inner vision, be it a client's, or her own. 

Ellen taught at Boston's School of Fashion Design for quite a few years. While there, she amassed a huge collection of notes which became the outline for her new book, Creating Couture Embellishments.  

Creating the book was a 7 year labor of love. Below is a small sample of the sleeves that were created to demonstrate each lesson she shares.  

There's an entire chapter devoted to creating exquisite flowers, as well as pleats, ruching, lace, grommets, and so much more. 

I was honored to have the opportunity to review the book. Needless to say, I loved it! It is a beautiful book with very detailed examples of each lesson. It is not a how to design book, but a guide to adding details that give a garment that special touch that so many of us love. She recommends the Reader's Digest Complete Guide To Sewing for those who are just beginning their sewing journey. In the video, I share my favorite book, The Vogue Sewing Book. I thought that a video would give you a better look inside rather than just taking a few pictures. 

In the video, I talk about how much I love cartridge pleating. You can find some fabulous inspiration HERE on this Monday Morning Inspiration post I did a while back. 

As I said, I loved the book, and I can't wait to start trying out a few of the projects. And what great timing!, the holidays are just around the corner. It would make a wonderful gift for any sewist on your list, and that might include you as well!!!

You can find the book at various sites;
Barnes and Noble

At the very least, check out Ellen's blog. I think you'll enjoy getting to know her :) And a little secret...she will be coming to Chicago the first of March to speak at the Haute Couture meeting!!! If you are anywhere near Chicago, by all means, come!!! We would love to have you :) 

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Morning Inspiration/Murder On The Orient Express, the Costumes

It's a cold, sunny morning in Chicago, 28 degrees. Fog has rolled in over the city like a blanket that promises warmth. The fog is a sign of warmer temperatures that will fool many into thinking that winter is still far, far into the future. But...winter has a wicked sense of humor, snow, and lots of it is predicted for the weekend!

I love a movie with gorgeous costumes. The new movie, Murder On The Orient Express will be one that I will see primarily for the costumes. 

A few weeks ago, I saw an interview with the director, as well as the grandson of Agatha Christie. The movie looked interesting, but it wasn't until I saw a post by Jill of The Denver Sewing Collective that I became determined to see the movie. 

The costume designer, Alexandra Byrne won an Oscar for her work in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, so is quite accustomed to working on period pieces. 

A tremendous amount of research went into creating the clothing for the movie. She said that as she thought about the characters, she actually had to look back and think about the lives that each lived prior to boarding the train.

Judi Densch plays Princess Dragomiroff, a woman who would dress many times throughout the day, and a woman who always wore a corset. Of course her clothing would be rather rich and opulent, like the piece below.  

Love the closeup detail of the sleeve.

In order for the clothing to be believable, great care was taken to recreate the types of fabrics used during the 1930s, and fabrics in particular that would be worn by an Englishman versus an American. The fabrics of the period had a spongy quality. The fabric for the coat below was woven in Scotland using old methods of weaving.

Look closely at the plaid coat below. Love the sleeve detail!

Michelle Pfeiffer plays Caroline Hubbard, a self-proclaimed husband hunter. Ms. Byrne uses the costumes to speak about who the character is.

With this piece, she portrays that Caroline Hubbard is a woman who will wear a snow suit and yet never ski. Take note of how the fur wraps around the sleeve. Such a gorgeous detail.

Another detail that I find intriguing is the use of patterns, and how they play with and against each other.

Another piece worn by Michelle Pfeiffer. Hanging on the dressform, I didn't think that much of it.

But I found this trailer from the movie. The dress is simply breathtaking and moves with a fluid grace.

Johnny Depp plays Ratchett, a wealthy American criminal who has been traveling as a bogus art dealer for 2 years. It was important that he look the part of an American, but with some wear to his clothing. I love how the leather coat has been distressed to convey his time of being on the road.

The movie was shot in 70mm. Ms. Byrne said that this made her work all the more challenging as you can see every wrinkle, crease and seam.

There's something special about a movie that can capture our imagination and at the same time make us dream of another time. I think Murder On The Orient Express will fit that bill. If nothing more, I want to see the costumes on a big screen!

If you would like to read more about the costume designer, and the costumes, there are 3 great articles, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Wishing you a wonderful week full of delight!

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Sunday, November 12, 2017