Moving Day

I’ve got some big news to share.

Part I is that my blog is moving. Same crafty goodness, new crafty channel. Hopefully an easier-to-remember address:

(It’s not as catchy as say,, but it works for me.)

I hope you’ll follow me over there (I promise that you won’t have to unpack any boxes or move heavy furniture), at least for Part II of my big news and another giveaway.



Tea Time

I’ve been feeling the urge to play with things that aren’t fabric lately. Sometimes, a little creative break is a good thing. It lets me explore something different and/or new, recharging my vision along the way.

This little tea tray started out as an unfinished piece of wood from the craft store. I don’t think it cost more than $5 (probably less). I did a basic whitewash with some acrylic paint, covering the inside and outside. Then I added a bright pink to the top edge. When it was dry, I trace off the bottom and sides on the back of a piece of wrapping paper (I picked up this particular gem at Target, on clearance).

I used Mod Podge to adhere the papers to the tray, then topped off everything with a bit of Mod Podge Sparkle. Yes, decoupage medium with glitter in it. What can I say? I like a bit of sparkle.

The tray has been the centerpiece of today’s tea-time play, which makes it a success in my book. I’m working on another piece right now, this one a mixed media collage-y kind of work, and may be sharing it in a day or two (lots of drying time with this one).

Don’t Remind Me

Posted On April 10, 2008

Filed under Ramblings
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The inevitable barrage of emails has begun. Scarcely a week goes by that I don’t get some notification that I’m getting that much older.

My 20th high school reunion is this year

I’m really kind of struggling to understand the appeal of a high school reunion. I don’t keep in touch with these people. Haven’t seen 99 percent of them in 20 years. What’s the point? Remembering the good ol’ days?

Let me be totally honest here. I do not consider high school “the best days of my life.” If anything, high school was a special kind of torture that violated the rules of the Geneva Convention.

I grew up in a small town in Alabama. One high school. I was most assuredly not one of the “popular” crowd. My hair was too frizzy. I had virtually no social skills whatsoever. My family was barely middle class. I didn’t have the “right” clothes or shoes or fashion sense. No car. No drivers license. Most of what sticks out in my mind about high school were all the times I was made fun of for wearing Wal-mart clothes and bobo tennis shoes. Of never having a date to Homecoming and getting dumped two weeks before my one and only prom.

And I want to relive those glory days why?

I went to the 10th, although I’m still not sure why. Maybe I had something to prove, that I wasn’t that dork any more. For two days, I felt like I was back in high school, wearing the wrong clothes and sporting bad hair. I was miserable. A friend of mine who is a few years older told me that first reunion is a bit like high school still; however, the 20th is much better. People are less about who they were, she says, and have moved out of those old cliques.

I had a little taste of my reunion when I went home for Christmas. I met two girls for lunch one day, to catch up. Although I have known both of them for more than 20 years, I can’t really say we were friends back in the day. They were both part of the “in crowd,” with active social lives that were a stark contrast to mine. And while we sat at that restaurant, and I listened to them talk about the people in their circle of friends — folks with whom we went to high school — I realized how different my life has been. The people to whom I am the closest are friends I have known no more than 10 years, and none are from my hometown. I have moved forward and happily embraced a different life.

It may be true that a 20th reunion breaks down all those old high school walls. But I’m still the first person in my class to Rsvp “no.”

Feel the Rainbow

Posted On April 7, 2008

Filed under Photography, Ramblings
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Tulle has such an interesting texture. I love the way it feels as I work with it, the way it takes on sort of a life of its own as the tutu becomes more and more full.



I’ve spent quite a bit of time with the tulle again in the past week, filling an order from a dance studio. It’s recital season and somewhere, a group of eight little girls will all be wearing rainbow tutus made by yours truly. (See the “big picture” at my Flickr.)

Oh, how I would love to see that! I don’t really choose favorites among my “babies” but these puffy little rainbow skirts make me smile, even as the clock just tick tick ticks away. I stacked them on my dress form as I finished, which gave me an idea for photographing them before sending them off.

Individually, they are so sweet and lovely but layered upon each other, they take on a new dimension. I look at this picture, and it’s almost as if they are undulating in the current, so much motion without ever moving.

Can You Hear That?

It’s the sound of silence.

It’s a rainy Friday night here in the ATL. Miss L is tucked into bed and I’m camped out on the couch, surfing for a few before I dive into finishing up a tutu order. My oldest is off to the movies with his not-girlfriend and a couple other folks. Honey is away at a firm retreat. My middle child doesn’t start spring break until tomorrow, so he’s still at boarding school.

This is what my life will be like in just a few short years. In a little more than a year, the first of the boys heads off to college and his brother will be only a couple of years behind him. It will be a party of one in Kidville.

Really, it’s not something we didn’t know, back when we were planning and peeing on a stick every month. Honey’s sister is eight years younger than him, so we’d actually seen a little bit of it firsthand.

Tonight, though, is a little piece of that future. I have to admit it’s rather nice. The pace is so different, after all these years with teenagers. Usually, they are up at least as late as I am — if not later. We talk and laugh and fight over the remote control. That little girl, though, has a much earlier bedtime which gives me a bit of alone time that’s rather foreign for me.

But I could get used to it.

Skirting the Issue

I’ve had the Amy Butler Barcelona Skirts pattern for about a year, yet have never made the first one. I did trace off the pattern, and I bought plenty of fabric for making a couple of them. I just found other things to sew first. Why? The zipper. I have an irrational fear of sewing zippers, for no other reason than the unknown.

Not anymore.

In the past week, I’ve sewn two skirts and one pair of shorts, all with invisible zippers. They’re not perfect but unlike previous zipper experiments, they are functional and wearable — and they don’t look half bad. In fact, they look pretty darned good!

This is actually the second of the two Barcelona skirts I sewed. I bought this fabric when I bought the pattern, brought it home and washed it, then promptly ignored it. And that’s a total shame, because I could have been wearing and enjoying it all this time.

I made this more or less as the pattern dictated. Instead of using sew-in interfacing for the waistband of the apron, though, I used flannel. While I like the feel, it’s a bit too heavy, especially when folded over.

I also had some issues with stitching the waistband closed. If you could see it close up, you’d understand what I’m talking about. I think part of the problem was the thickness of the waistband, courtesy of the flannel. The other part? Sewing too late again. Yes, it’s the bane of my existence. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes necessary and I guess I really need to learn to keep it together when the clock ticks past 9 p.m.

I did make a bit of bigger goof in sewing this skirt that had nothing to do with the time. I thought the first skirt I made was a little on the small side, so I added a half an inch to the middle of both the front and back sections, then used a smaller seam allowance. I now have a skirt that is too big. Guess I’ll be taking it in before I break it in.

This was my first attempt at the Barcelona skirt, using a pretty blue floral fabric from Joann’s. Boy, do I like this fabric! It’s very spring-y and sweet, but not in a cloying way. You know? I think I may even have paid full price for this fabric, I liked it that much. Glad I did, too, because it’s sold out around here.

The apron was sort of a last-minute project. I decided on Saturday to make Miss L a coordinating outfit for Easter, since we were going to church the next day for her big brother’s baptism. I thought the apron would help pull together our outfits. While I got her dress finished before I went to bed Saturday night, the apron was only about half done. Woke up early Sunday to finish it before church — and then managed to leave it on my bed when I walked out the door.


I opted not to make this apron reversible, and also did not use any interfacing on the waistband. Because it’s not reversible, I did need to finish the back side and bottom edges. I think it’s one of my favorite aprons, and I actually wore the outfit at left all day Monday — even out and about. (By the way, the picture is actually a self portrait. I used my handy dandy tripod and the timer on my 30D.)

The dress on the left is Miss L’s Easter dress. It’s just a simple A-line dress, fully lined, with buttons at the shoulders. I think it’s going to be a great dress for spring and summer, very cool and fun and classic. The Easter bloopers actually continued Sunday morning. I didn’t realize I’d put the dress on backwards until after lunch. Guess I need to sew some tags on it!

My little “Stinkerbell” had fun posing today, especially the photo on the right. What a nut! Tomorrow is “green day” in her class and she needs to wear something green. I recently acquired this Tinkerbell knit fabric and knew it fit the bill. I’m not big on buying anything with characters on it but I made an exception for this one because Miss L loves Tinkerbell and I couldn’t resist. The pattern is Butterick, 3316 (I think). It’s no longer in print but definitely worth searching out. It has a curved bodice, which does make it a bit more interesting than just a basic swing dress. Fun to sew, pretty fast — except when I sewed one section wrong and had to re-cut two pieces to fix the goof. When the weather warms up, I’ll shorten the sleeves so it can be worn through the summer.

This Burda pattern is another I’ve had for a while, just waiting to get up the courage to sew something with a zipper. I hate that I missed out on a year of getting use out of it, because these pants are cute as can be. I made the bermuda length but there are two other lengths, so they can be worn year round

I love this fabric, a pretty embroidered twill with bumblebees on it. I found it at Joann’s, along with two other twills. One is pink with strawberries; the other is green with ladybugs on it. I was only going to buy the pink and blue but that little blond cutie insisted on the green ladybugs.

I’m planning to make tops to coordinate with all three pairs of shorts, but I figure I’ve got a little time since the weather is not quite warm enough for wearing them. (I can already tell that t-shirt isn’t going to make the cut for summer, cute as that pumpkin belly may be.)

I’m meeting my goal of sewing more for me this year, that’s for sure. Today, I broke in my new coverstitcher with the top on the left, Butterick B5185. I made it with short sleeves with a pretty teal knit I bought at … yes, same place. (Really, I do shop other places; it’s just how it worked with this sew-and-show.) I messed up while sewing it and had to rip out some stitches and fix it. It would help to read the directions before I start sewing.

A little love for the CP900: I never thought I’d own a coverstitcher. It just didn’t seem like a must have for me, and I was making do just fine with twin needling on my sewing machine. But then I learned about a great deal on a Janome CP900 and decided to splurge. So glad I did! It’s really amazing how great it does on coverstitching knits (and it should, since that’s what it’s supposed to do). In fact, my son was surprised to learn the shirt I was wearing was made by me and not store bought — and that made my ego just swell.

On the right is my new Favorite Things skirt, the Hip Skirts pleated skirt. I used a fabric I found at Hobby Lobby that’s one of my favorite colors (aqua). I like the skirt but did not cut the elastic small enough, so it’s a little roomy in the waist. It’s an easy enough problem to fix; I just haven’t done it yet.

I Work Here

When I decided to take the plunge and buy a new sewing machine and serger (and then my first cover stitcher), I knew I needed to revamp my sewing space before I moved in my new machines.

I think I’m like a lot of other folks when I say that I made do with what I had. I started out sewing in my dining room. That worked when I sewed only occasionally but quickly became a hassle when that pace picked up (and a serger on the table didn’t lend itself to mealtimes). We actually use our dining room, so repurposing it was just not going to happen. Instead, I decided to take over ask Honey if I could use his desk/office area, since he rarely used it anymore.

Our downstairs has been largely unused since we bought our house 4.5 years ago. It’s a pretty big space but oddly shaped (a big L) and poorly lit. My sewing space is at the right-most side of the L’s bottom leg, running along the wall between the door to the garage and the door to the laundry room, right at the bottom of the stairs.

Originally, the space had an L-shaped arrangement of desks (a regular sized desk and a laptop desk), with my serger on the small desk and sewing machine on the big desk. This didn’t work for me for a couple of reasons:

  1. Lots of wasted space on the corner of the large desk adjacent to the small desk. It just would end up buried in piles.
  2. The rolling stool I used would lower with each spin, so I’d have to get up and raise it every 20 minutes or so.
  3. Add in my cutting table, and the space just seemed really claustrophobic.

Here’s my new, improved sewing space (as seen from the stairs)!

Left: My cutting table was a sale purchase from Joann’s, as was my cutting mat. The little “paint can” on my cutting table came from Archiver’s. I cut some of the paper I used for my sewing table so it would match. The inspiration piece for my revamped workspace is actually on the floor underneath my cutting table: my vintage sewing box, which I won from Lisa’s blog. It’s roomy and fun, and now I actually have a place to put it! LOL!

Right: We have a few 6-foot folding tables and I pulled one out of storage to use as my main sewing table. One of the great things about having lived near a university (while Honey was in law school) was being able to pick up stuff like that on the cheap when kids graduated. I think I paid $15 for one table and dragged the other two home from the trash at our apartment complex. I bought a roll of adhesive-backed paper at Target to liven up the table. It wasn’t wide enough to cover the whole table top, so I overlapped it by rolling it along the long edge on one side of the table and then the other. (There are close-ups of the tabletop further down.) On the left, behind my cover stitcher, is a basket I bought at Michael’s; it stores the patterns I’m about to use, plus current reading material.

Here’s kind of an overview of the space from the other side of the room. You can really tell from this photo how poorly the area is lit. I actually need to go shopping for a new light fixture soon because I can’t stand the cave-like feeling that’s down there.

Continuing the tour … To the right of my sewing table is a trash can. Big deal, right? Well, it is for me! Until now, I’ve relied on the trashcan in the laundry room. It’s actually not that convenient, so I often would just make a pile on the floor while I was working. It’s so much nicer to have a dedicated trash can right there.

For most of the past year, I’ve been using a stool I bought at Ikea. I love it, but the previously mentioned problem with it lowering makes it less-than-ideal for my needs. The replacement is not only more comfortable, it’s also a little taller, which means I can actually sit at my cutting table now (instead of under it).

Underneath the table, you can see my cheapie Brother sewing machine, which is set up for shirring. It handles it better than my old sewing machine, although I have not tried it on my new Janome. Regardless, I do it enough that it’s nice to have a dedicated machine for it.

The door on the left, behind my cutting table, is my hobby closet. There’ll be a tour of it later.

Welcome to Janomeville!

I picked up this two-sided bulletin board on clearance at Hobby Lobby. The right-hand side is a corkboard. I unscrewed the backing, pulled out the corkboard and covered it with a piece of fabric (a Japanese Little Red Riding Hood print), then slid it back in and closed up the back. Easy peasey! The chalkboard side is magnetic and the new home of the cute magnets Amy sent me (she made them!). I plan to use this as a to-do list and inspiration board, but right now I’m just enjoying looking at the pretty fabric.

I have managed to avoid hanging any artwork downstairs and am glad to say I’ve rectified that now. The frames were picked up on the cheap from Big Lots. They needed to be cleaned up a little but were otherwise perfect. I was delighted to not only find these two pieces of art on Etsy but also that the artist (KJ of The Dreamy Giraffe) was able to accommodate my request for same-sized prints. I need to get some matts cut to fit, but that’s easy enough to obtain. Right now, I’m enjoying having such beautiful things to inspire me every day!

Now, on to the shiny clean craft closet!

The view of my closet from the outside. It’s not a huge space and actually occupies the underside of the stairs leading to our living room and other main living spaces. Fabric is stacked on the left and right side of the doorway. I also store my scrapbooking paper in here, some photography gear (backdrop stand and my formerly lost tripod), rubber stamping supplies, Xyron machines and a few other things.

Honey also uses this closet to store his lawyer books. He is far happier with the renovated closet, since now it’s possible for him to open the door, walk in, find what he needs and retreat without commenting on my fabric stash. (That last bit may be wishful thinking on my part.)

We also have things like big coats down here, plus my tutu-making supplies (gotta keep all that tulle somewhere!). When I need to, I can fold down my cutting table and roll it in here, too.

The fabric is sorted by color, more or less. I separated out the corduroy, flannel, linen, silk and Japanese fabrics (both from Japan and Asian-inspired prints). Since reorganizing it like this, I’ve found it easier to locate specific fabric and also to find coordinates.

But enough yapping. Here are more pictures!

On My Mind

Things I’m pondering right now:

  • Does it hurt my cat’s feelings that I call him “fat butt”?
  • Is the name-calling perhaps the reason why he feels compelled to drink out of my water glass?
  • What the hell was I thinking when I decided to stitch that zipper in by hand?
  • Should I have gone to bed two hours ago?
  • Will tonight’s Lost make more sense when I watch it tomorrow than it did while I was sewing while watching it tonight?
  • Did that shrimp taste a little funny?
  • How is it possible for one 3-foot-tall person to make such a huge mess in such a short amount of time?
  • When is my husband going to finish writing that darned email?
  • How sick is the dog going to get after eating a half a bag of Easter chocolate (imported German, I might add), including the aluminum wrappers? (I know chocolate is like poison to dogs; I don’t know how she found it and am genuinely concerned about her well being. And ticked that she had to eat the expensive stuff instead of the Cadbury Mini Eggs, which are cheaper and more easily replaced.)
  • ¬†Should I start the dishwasher tonight or wait until after breakfast tomorrow?
  • Did I turn off everything downstairs?
  • Do I have to work out in the morning?
  • Where did my daughter hide my checkbook?
  • Why can’t I train the cats to go fetch my slippers? (My feet are cold!)
  • Can I actually justify buying more fabric?

The “C” Word

My folks called me last month to tell me my stepmother was having a mammogram that day after finding a lump in her breast. They were optimistic it was nothing but thought I should know what was going on, just in case.

“Just in case” led to a biopsy, a PET scan, an echocardiogram and — likely next week — a mastectomy. Her oncologist says the outlook is great. There’s nothing to indicate the cancer has spread, and everyone seems ready to get started and get Jo cancer free.

It was only two years ago that one of my dearest friends fought The Big “C” and won, but I have not forgotten the stress of the unknown, the waiting, the healing.¬† I think it’s prepared me for my stepmother’s journey, although instead of living down the street, she is hundreds of miles away — too far to hug and reassure, but as close as my heart can hold.

Blast From the Past

Posted On March 10, 2008

Filed under Ramblings

Comments Dropped 7 responses

In today’s mail, I found a little surprise from my former employer: The proceeds of my retirement plan.

This came rather unexpectedly for two reasons:

1. I cashed out my retirement account when I left the company.

2. I left the company in 1996 — and have moved three times since then.

I’m not one for asking a lot of questions when money just shows up in my mailbox, but given the circumstances thought it best to call the resident expert on retirement plans a.k.a. Honey (who, coincidentally, practices exactly that kind of law).

I’m pretty sure he said it was OK to cash the check, although that was buried in the middle of a lengthy explanation of the hypothetical scenarios that may have led to this little surprise. He’s super smart and great at what he does, but after about two minutes, he starts to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to me.

Still, it’s good to know that $55 is mine, all mine.

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