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Back to Blogging!

Did you miss me? Er, maybe I should ask, is anyone still here?! It’s been a much longer break than I anticipated, but I think things are settled enough around our house that I can jump back into blogging regularly. I have a long, long list of things to share, including tons of quilting, some new crafty pursuits and plenty of tutorials. I’m even hoping to have a few new patterns ready to release in the next several months. Continue reading

Ponies on a Katie J. Jumper

Miss Katie J. celebrated her 4th birthday early this month, and since she adores everything My Little Pony, she needed a pony-covered party dress! As seems usual lately, my schedule kept me hopping until the last minute, so I opted for a party dress pattern that I know well and can sew quickly – one that happens to be named for the birthday girl – the Katie J. Jumper! Continue reading

Apartment Decorating on a Budget

My oldest daughter and her husband moved into a new place last month. Our son-in-law is going back to school, and they were able to rent a small apartment on campus … a small apartment with giant blank white walls! Because the two of them have worked as house parents at a group home for the last few years, and they’ve not really had a place of their own, they didn’t have much in the way of home decor. So, I asked if I could drive up for a long weekend to help decorate, and they accepted! My younger daughter came along, and we had so much fun – shopping, eating, building, decorating and just enjoying each other’s company, and we put together a cozy, welcoming space, AND we did it on a really tight budget!
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Halloween with the Doctor & His Companions

Happy Halloween from our family of Doctor Who fans! This is the first time in a very long time that we’ve dressed up the whole family with a theme. We had so much fun with it, though, I think we might try to keep doing it, at least for the next few years … until another one of my kiddos is all grown up.

If you’ve read this blog over the last few months, then you probably already know that we love the Doctor. One of my favorite things about how this all came together is that our teenagers chose the theme themselves and divided up all of the characters before they even came to me. I didn’t have to mediate any disagreements, I just got to help pull everything together!

We’ll go in age order since that’s the easiest for me:First up is Charlie as Rory – the Last Centurion. On our first thrift-shopping-for-Halloween excursion, we found a plastic chest plate and sword for $2.99 at Goodwill, and I knew that it would be perfect. The chest plate was the wrong color, though, and it had a big lion emblem attached.We solved that problem easily by pulling off the lion and spray-painting the shield. (This paint did start to chip off right away, so I wouldn’t use it for an application that needed to be permanent. For Charlie’s Last Centurion costume it worked just fine, though. The chipping gives it a pretty cool aged look.)For the “kilt” part of the Roman centurion uniform, I cut pieces from vinyl that I purchased at Joann’s and then used duct tape to secure them to the back of the chest plate. We also added an additional strap to the back of the plate because the original shoulder straps didn’t keep it on very securely. For the shirt and cape, I modified my Charlie Tee pattern. I replaced the original collar with a higher, wider version that folds down, and I sewed the self-drafted cape into the back and sides of the collar. I used a polyester blend interlock, also from Joann’s, primarily because it was the right color, but I love the drape that it has. It’s perfect for our little Last Centurion. (He was so cute at our church’s fall festival when he would try to explain who he was!)Next up, is Jamie as the 11th Doctor. I just adore little boys in bow ties! We found Jamie’s black skinny jeans and canvas boots at Crazy 8, and I love that he can wear them everyday. I purchased the suspenders at Amazon, and I sewed up the bow tie from red Kona cotton to match.The hardest part for Jamie’s costume was the tweed jacket. We searched every thrift shop and resale store within easy driving distance, and just couldn’t find something that didn’t require some significant alterations. Soooo …. we brought home this:It’s just a little big, isn’t it? I’ll start by saying that since this was a costume, I didn’t worry too much about making the jacket look perfect. I used my Which Way Out Jacket pattern sort of placed on top of the original jacket to get an idea what the sizing should look like, then I chopped it all up. I forgot, though, that I needed to add a seam allowance in the back because I was using two pieces, so the back is a bit narrow. I sewed the lining pieces back together, then the outer pieces, just sewing the pockets where they fell. Rather than trying to completely re-do the collar, I just cut it in half in the back, serged the edges, and stitched it back together. Then I pressed the seam allowance open and stitched down each side to keep those edges tucked under. It actually turned out pretty well for a few hours worth of work! Allen’s 10th Doctor costume was by far the easiest! He already had the Chucks, the dress shirt and the dress pants. We found the pinstriped jacket and the trench coat at local thrift stores, and he borrowed one of Ray’s ties to pull everything together. I didn’t think I would have to do anything crafty at all to his outfit … until he wore the jacket to youth group and came home with a huge rip down one of the front seams. Urgh. Boys. So, I ripped the lining open to stitch the jacket back together, and then I just slipstitched the lining back in. Maybe he felt left out of the whole creative process?

“The pointing again! They’re screwdrivers! What are you going to do, assemble a cabinet at them?”
Finally, Samantha as River Song. This costume took the most time, but Samantha and Ray did most of the work on it. Except for the shopping and a few suggestions here and there, all I did was hem the arms after Samantha ripped the sleeves off of her thrift shop dress find. Here’s the before:Both belts came from thrift stores. Actually, three thrift shop belts are a part of this outfit.The top belt was a bit too big, and it was the wrong color, so Samantha stitched a seam down the middle using yarn and a darning needle, then she dyed it the perfect dark grey.For River’s bag, Ray bolted this leather bag – another thrifted find – to a super-long men’s braided belt.That third belt that I mentioned above?It became River’s Vortex Manipulator! Samantha cut up a belt that had holes running the full length, and Ray used a punch and hammer to make the holes bigger (with a large audience on the back porch), so that Samantha could sew the pieces together with suede lacing strands. Ray and I couldn’t possibly let the kids have all the fun, though! So, we dressed as the Doctor’s 9th regeneration and Rose Tyler!Ray’s costume is all pieces that he’ll wear over and over. Mine pretty much consists of things that I already owned plus a Union Jack tank top that I found at a little local store called Julie’s British Shoppe. (Except for River’s sonic screwdriver which came from Barnes & Noble, all the sonic screwdrivers also came from Julie’s!)

We had a blast wearing these costumes to two different Trunk or Treating events last weekend, and we’re excited to get to wear them again tonight for some Halloween fun! We hope you and yours have a great night filled with memories and laughter and only as much scary stuff as you want to enjoy!

Katie’s Cowgirl Dress & Third Birthday Party

Our granddaughter, Katie, turned three this month, and we celebrated last weekend with a Sheriff Callie-inspired birthday party. It’s sort of a given that I’ll get to sew her party dress (YAY!), and I had so much fun with this one!Katie’s momma shared with me ahead of time that they were planning for her to wear pink boots and a pink hat, so pink was definitely the color. I took Charlie with me to shop for fabric and buttons a couple of weeks ago. I was picturing a pink gingham and chambray mix, so I was thrilled to run across this Riley Blake bias-print gingham fabric at The Quilt Place.Charlie picked out the white star buttons at Hancock Fabrics, and the chambray fabric was a Joann Fabrics purchase. (We really did drive all over town for all of the supplies! Charlie was sort of done after finding the buttons, but the promise of a cake pop and chocolate milk got us through our last stop without a tantrum. Four-year-olds need something to look forward to! Actually, we all do — I enjoyed the coffee break, too.)I used the top from my in-progress shirtdress pattern (It’s with my testers right now!), and combined it with a gathered two-layer skirt. (Adding a gathered skirt to a top is easy-peasy stuff. Just measure the width of the bottom of your top, cut your skirt about 1 1/2 times that width by whatever length you want, gather and attach it. That makes sense, right? Maybe I’ll do a tutorial later.)We all had to laugh a little because we put a lot of planning into Katie’s party last year with decorations and pretty food: Katie’s 2nd Birthday. I got a notice a few weeks ago that I’d been given a PartyPail.com award for Best Decorations!

Pretty cool, huh?

This year, our party was a little less Pinterest-worthy and a bit more let’s-just-have-fun! Of course, there’s nothing at all wrong with doing things either way. Both definitely have their advantages.

Katie’s friends enjoyed bouncing in the bounce house that was so kindly provided by a close family friend.There was a slight misunderstanding, though. Our friend thought that the party was for one of our boys, so the bounce house was a monster truck! Hahahaha! Thankfully, Katie loved it!We kept the snacks simple and served iced water with fruit to drink. (It was really, really hot, so we all drank tons of water!)Katie was thrilled with the simple printable Sheriff Callie cupcake toppers that we found at EasyPartyPrintables.And, of course, she had a blast opening presents …… and eating cake!I’d say it was a pretty successful party! Happy birthday, Katie! I pray that your next year is full of lots of love, loads of fun and plenty of new discoveries.I was planning to link up with Challenge Create: Geometric Week at Skirt Fixation, but I totally missed the deadline! Next week, I am planning ahead better so I can join in for Knit Week.  You should, too! You can still pop over to Skirt Fixation and vote for your favorite contestant and your favorite sew-along entry: Challenge Create: Geometric Week. Oh, and a quick huge, “Thank you!” to all of you who voted for my winning Custom Linen Handbag last week!

Also, Kids Clothes Week starts on Monday! Are you joining in? I have a few things planned!

Book Bags for My Nieces

Finally, the last of my Christmas sewing! I have such fun designing new bags for my three nieces every Christmas. They’re building up quite the collection of bags, and I love that they use all of them. This year I went with a simple, but stylish book bag that I’ve wanted to design for ages.

The inside of the bag is generously sized for library books or school books, and the front of the bag has a nice big pocket.I made the strap super long so that the girls can wear them cross-body, or they can tie a quick knot in the center of the strap to wear them as shoulder bags.The sides wrap around to a wide strip centered on both the front and the back. I love how the sides frame the main fabric print.The bag is fairly unstructured or “slouchy”, so it’s easy to fold up and store away, but I used heavier weight fabrics so they have a good amount of substance to them. The two bags above are sewn with twill and home decor fabrics, and the bag below is sewn with fine wale corduroy. (All of the fabrics are from Joann Fabrics.)I think these practical, modern bags wrap up last year’s sewing list quite nicely, even if the finish is a bit late. Oh, and you might see this bag again as a pattern in this year’s line-up very soon!

Our Loss

Thank you so much to all of you who shared in the excitement of the news that we were expecting our seventh baby. We were so thrilled. Sadly, last Friday, just shy of 13 weeks, I miscarried that little one. It’s been an emotional week of ups and downs, but I’m doing well. I’ve been surrounded by the love of friends and family, reminded of how blessed I am even in such a difficult time. After a few days of recovery, my husband and I made the decision that it was best for me to continue with my plans for Market next week. Everyone is different when it comes to dealing with early pregnancy loss. I have a need to keep my hands busy and having something constructive to focus on has been very healing for me.

I’m going to share a bit of the story and some of my feelings in the following paragraphs. I totally understand, though, if it’s too much, and you’d rather just skip the rest. I have a tendency myself to avoid things that might make me cry. Things will be back to normal here soon.

Miscarriage is such a difficult subject to discuss. Many, including myself, deal with it in silence for the most part. This is our sixth pregnancy loss, and each has its own story. A positive pregnancy test is so full of joy and excitement for all of us, but when you’ve experienced a loss in the past, it’s met with a measure of caution, as well. Because of our past losses, we keep our pregnancies just between my husband and I until I start feeling those familiar strong pregnancy symptoms. In the past, that has been our sign that the pregnancy is healthy and will continue without a problem. That wasn’t the case this time. I had just breathed that sigh of relief to be past the high risk 12-week mark. I was allowing myself to really dream of who this little person would be. Our conversation was full of guesses as to gender and suggestions of names. We’d started the process of gathering the baby items that we’d loaned out to loved ones. We were chatting with our little ones about their new little brother or sister. I was even feeling those little occasional baby flutters. The bleeding came on suddenly and without warning. I was in the middle of a photoshoot for a new set of patterns — I’m so thankful that I had decided to do it here in my own backyard. Within a few hours, it was all over. Traumatic is the best word that I can find to describe it.

Like everyone who has walked this path, I wondered if there was anything that I could have done to change what happened. I’m thankful that I’m confident in my knowledge that nothing comes as a surprise to God. It’s not easy, but I’ve been able to see glimpses of His hand in all of this, even through my anger that He would allow this to happen to us . . . again. If you’re walking this path right now, I think it’s okay to be angry. Don’t hold onto that anger too long — it’ll take over — but if you’re like me, it helps to yell at God like a two-year-old having a temper tantrum. Sharing your real feelings is part of having real relationship. He’ll still love you and still draw you back to Him . . . even if you refuse to pick up a Bible for a week. He’ll send along friends to share His word or sneak in a song that speaks to your heart.

If you happen to have a friend or loved one who has recently experienced a pregnancy loss, my advice is to offer your prayers, do something practical or just loving, but be understanding. If she doesn’t want to see you and chat, don’t take it personally. If she’s like me, she doesn’t like for other people to see her cry. We’ve had meals and snacks provided by friends all week. We’ve received cards, notes, emails, texts, Facebook messages. The flowers that you see above were hand-delivered by two very dear blogging friends along with chocolate a few days after I came home from the hospital. (As a quick side note, I am so blessed to work in the fabric/sewing/blogging industry. I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of kindness and support that I’ve received from the people that I work with and alongside. This industry is truly one with heart.) Every message, meal and gift helped to lift us and get us through.

Even just being willing to pretend like everything is normal can be a blessing. I had an appointment to get my hair done on Tuesday, and I really couldn’t reschedule it. I texted my hairdresser on Monday evening, told her what had happened and asked her to tell me everything that she wanted to tell me via text so that we could just act like nothing was out of the ordinary on Tuesday morning. Since it was my first time leaving the security of my own home, it was so nice to just join in the everyday busy salon conversation. It’s amazing how encouraging it can be to just experience normalcy for a bit.

I have quite a bit of work to get done over the next few days, but I’m being kind to myself and not worrying about getting everything finished. Things may not end up being quite the way I had expected them to be, and that’s okay. If you happen to run into me at Market or anywhere else, please feel free to act as if everything is normal. I promise that I’ll appreciate it. If you ask me how I’m doing, I can’t promise that I won’t fight back tears, but chances are I’ll be just fine. I’ll probably say that I’m doing okay. Really, I’m sad, but joyful, too. When I run across the co-sleeper in the garage or my youngest asks again about the baby coming, the sadness comes crashing back in on me. My dreams of getting to know the baby that I was expecting are not going to happen. I can’t change that. In spite of that, though, I am so blessed with so much, and for that, I can find joy in the midst of my sorrow.

Coming in 2014 . . .

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve blogged! Eeek! I’ve actually been struggling to keep up with everything lately. My days are currently ruled by all-day nausea and the overwhelming need to just take a nap! There’s a really exciting reason for that, though!Someone with tiny fingers . . . . . . and tiny toes will be joining our family in the spring of 2014!Since Hopeful Threads is hosting a Create Hope Designs sew-along this month, I couldn’t resist sewing up a Watered With Love Layette Set for Baby #7 in this sweet organic cotton interlock from Birch Fabrics. I’m hoping that this will be the first of many outfits that I get to sew (and knit) for this little one! Right now, though, I have five weeks until Quilt Market, and I’m so far behind! If you don’t see me around here as much as usual, at least you’ll know why. (I’m probably sneaking off to eat something strange that I’ve been craving . . . like mashed potatoes . . . for breakfast.)

A Little Love in the Shape of a Pillowcase

My oldest daughter and her husband (Katie’s mom & dad) are house parents at a children’s home here in Florida. Right now, their house is home to ten teenage girls. I know many of you just took a deep breath at that thought, but I have to tell you that these two LOVE their job and can’t imagine doing anything else. The girls that they live with are just like other teen girls. They’re beautiful. They’re funny. They’re caring. (They adore Katie!) Some love sports. Some love video games. Some love art. They’re all amazing girls with bright futures ahead of them. Like every person in this world, though, they need to know that people care about them. I think that their house parents, along with the rest of the staff at the children’s home, do an amazing job of that, but I’ve had this idea for a while that maybe I could sew something for each one.

All of you who sew know that when you sew a gift with love for someone, that finished gift reminds the receiver of how much you care about them each time they use it. I really wanted to do that for these girls. Like many of you, though, my schedule is crazy busy. I’d put this on the back burner until a few weeks ago when I was reading about Simple Simon & Company’s Skirting the Issue project. I saw that they were sewing pillowcases to give and thought, “Pillowcases! That is perfect!” I can personalize them for each girl, she can use her pillowcase for as long as she wants, and she can take it with her wherever she goes! So, I called my daughter, and we put this plan in motion!Each girl shared her favorite colors or animal or character or sports team or whatever she wanted me to know about her likes, and I used those to choose the fabrics. All of the fabrics came from Joann Fabrics locally, and I used my own 9 1/2 Minute Pillowcase Tutorial to sew them up.

Lions & Scooby Doo

Florida Gators & Zebra Stripes

Jamaican Colors & Lime Green and Black


Pink and Purple & Cats

Once I had all the pillowcases done, I thought they needed fun packaging . . . and chocolate. I folded each one and slid it into a clear zippered bag with a few goodies, and I added some ribbon to make it pretty.Then I added each girl’s name on a washi tape label. (I did use the girls’  real names on the finished packaging — these are not their real names.) Much more fun than just the pillowcase, right?Now they’re all ready to deliver to their new owners! I hope that these amazing girls enjoy them, and that they provide a little reminder that someone cares about them and is praying for them wherever life might take them in the years ahead.

A Beautiful Day for a Beach Baptism

A quick post for my family nestled in here among those about sewing and crafting — Our sweet Samantha was baptized this morning, and our extended family wasn’t able to join us. My prayer is that these pictures will make each of you feel as if you were there with us on this overwhelmingly beautiful day at the beach! Lots of love to each of you! (Of course, my dear blog followers are very welcome to enjoy this celebration with us, too. I feel like many of you are family!)

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