My First Ruler Work on a Quilt

I’ve been itching to try out the latest trend in machine quilting on a longarm and that’s using a ruler to make designs.  You can do this on a regular sewing machine too.  The concept is to run the foot of the machine along the edge of the ruler and you always have to take into account for the 1/4″ of the diameter of the hopping foot while doing this.  I plan on doing ruler work on my BIL Marc’s t-shirt quilt in the sashing but my skills aren’t there yet so I figured I’d give it a try on a panel.  Cute bunnies!  Happy Easter!

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There are several challenges I have when deciding on what to do on a quilt.
1.  I have absolutely no idea what design to choose.
2.  I usually decide on something WAY over my skillset and screw it up.
3.  I don’t get the math right to make the design equal and balanced.

To fix #1 & 2, I decided to keep it really simple for my first go and settled on a single crisscross stitch.  I had ideas of making it more complex right out of the gate but forced myself to KISS it.  (Keep it simple stupid).  Believe me, it was a challenge!  As far as #3, last summer I saw a YouTube video where this lady used a strip of paper the length of the quilting area and she folded it into equal parts to create measuring guides.  It’s an incredibly simple technique that up until then had escaped me.

I accounted for the 1/4″ SA on the binding and knew I wanted the X’s to start at the outer corner of the inner blue border.  So those points are #1.  I used the ruler to STID around the outside of the blue border and you can see where it got away from me a bit because there’s a wobble up into the green about an inch to the left of the corner.  Focus!  I probably won’t pick that out.  I’m going to leave it so I can look back one day and see how far I’ve come.

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I marked all the points top and bottom, and then created the X’s with a blue marking pen.  The #1’s are the outer corners at the blue border, #2 is the center fold, #3’s are the inner folds.

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My ruler has a little 1/4″ toe that you’re supposed to place at the point where you want to land.  Once I got the hang of this, it was pretty fun!

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If I’d thought about it, (and I did initially and then got caught up in finding a backing and subsequently forgot…SQUIRREL! ), I’d of loaded the panel sideways to get fewer passes out of it.  I still may unload/re-load…we’ll see.  My total quilting space with the ruler table attached is about 14″.

I need to remove the markings a bit more, but here’s the final outcome of a simple crisscross design in the upper border.  I’m thinking about doing some echo lines and will probably do that before I roll it up to do the sides.  I’m so glad I kept it simple so I could have success on my initial attempt at ruler work.  I plan on using the computer to quilt the interior of the panel.  Lots of fun!

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#Simplicity4092 Costume & Daughters of the American Revolution

I am a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution ( NSDAR or DAR for short) and to be a member of this organization, you must have a proven ancestor who fought in the American Revolution. My mother dug into genealogy (ha ha) when I was a child, and she was able to join the DAR and subsequently, put me into CAR (Children) where I remained a member until the age of 18 and then I dutifully joined DAR in 1982. There is an SAR (Sons) too if you were wondering. NSDAR has about 180,000 members and there are over 18,000 just in Texas. The NSDAR national headquarters encompasses an entire city block in Washington DC and is just around the corner from the White House. You’ve heard of Constitution Week? Well you can thank the DAR for petitioning Congress in 1955 for that and President Eisenhower signing it into law.

DAR is an amazing organization of which I’m very proud to be a part. We stand for historical preservation, conservation of historical sites, community service, education, and above all else American patriotism. My local chapter, the Susanna Dickinson Chapter, meets monthly in the East Central School Museum and they are an incredible group of ladies who do everything from sponsor the DAR Good Citizen Essay Contest at East Central High School ($100 award), to placing flags on veterans’ graves at Sayer Salem Cemetery, to doing field trips to local historical sites, and attending US Naturalization ceremonies when they are held in downtown San Antonio.

This past weekend was the 119th Texas State DAR State Conference held at the Hyatt Regency in San Antonio on the Riverwalk. Over 1,000 Texas Daughters descended on downtown in full splendor a to attend business meetings, present state awards ($1,000 to History Teacher of the Year – a Brit of all things! ha ha He found the humor as well), and honor distinguished military veterans. The conference began on Wednesday with the Boy Scouts of America doing a flag retirement ceremony in front of the Alamo.

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It was such a moving ceremony that at times I got teary. It was so wonderful to see young people lead hundreds of spectators in the Pledge of Allegiance and then one by one, talk about the history and meaning of our flag. The proper way to dispose of a flag is to burn it and bury the ashes, but with no burning allowed on Alamo grounds, they cut the flag into 4 sections, leaving the blue field of stars intact to show unity of states as a country and then reverently folded the 4 sections into a box to be burned later. I’ve never seen it done like this and it was very nicely and respectfully performed.

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They marched in and out as a complete color guard and it was simply wonderful to be there.

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At the conference, I was a committee of One and in charge of Meal Greeters for the entire week. I had the dubious honor of making sure that only those who paid for their meals got into breakfasts, brunches, lunches, teas, receptions, and formal dinners. I live about 30 miles from the hotel and made the trip back and forth every day from Wednesday through Sunday. Some days I had plenty of volunteers in place and others I was checking tags myself but I was there from dark until …dark. When a breakfast begins at 6:30am, I had to get up a 4:00am to get there in time. The only reason I did this was because my former chapter Regent was a co-chair of the conference organizing committee and I promised her my full support over a year ago when she agreed to the assignment. She stayed in the hotel but at over $150 a night, I decided to drive back and forth. If you have vertigo, skip the next image of inside the hotel from above. That’s the San Antonio Riverwalk just outside the glass windows below.

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We were honored to have Mrs. Gregg Abbott, the Texas Governor’s wife, join us for our Educational Awards luncheon. That little doll on the head table is wearing a replica of the gown she wore at her husband’s inauguration. Texas State DAR is sponsoring a historical display of all Texas First Lady’s gowns at Texas Women’s University in Denton, and there were 48 hand made miniature gowns on display at the conference that were made by Texas Daughters. A raffle was held to help fund the display. You know I really wanted to win all those doll dresses. Sorry, no photo but here’s Mrs. Abbott.

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One of the Fiesta events my chapter attends every year is the Pilgrimage to the Alamo. Fiesta San Antonio is a huge 10-day long celebration that is the largest party in the country. It was second only to Mardi Gras in New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina. Fiesta occurs every April and it is the celebration of Texas’ independence from Mexico. There are parades of all kinds, night parties, historical displays, and a gazillion other events during the celebration. They even shut down local schools for the Battle of Flowers parade. The Pilgrimage is a very somber event held during the daytime where hundreds of people gather in their respective groups – everything from the Scouts, to the Junior League, to the 4H…you name it – and we walk in silence about a mile through the streets of downtown San Antonio to lay wreaths at the Alamo. As we walk into Alamo Plaza, the names of the patriots who died there during the Battle of the Alamo (1836) are read over a loud speaker and there are thousands of spectators all over the plaza. In attendance, there’s usually a Texas Congressman and/or Senator, general officers and colonels from the local military installations, and a full herd of ladies in yellow dresses and hats from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (descendants of Texas patriots). We, the DAR, are frequently confused with them, the DRT. They have the Alamo; we have the Constitution. 😉 So there!

During this Fiesta event, members of my group attend in full colonial costume. Have you ever been horrified to discover that you have turned into the parent who embarrassed you beyond belief as a teen? It happened to me this weekend. Enter Simplicity 4092.

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During certain DAR events throughout my life, my mother would go in costume. I was mortified by this and tried to stay as far from her as possible to disavow any relation to that whack job across the room. She loved every minute of it – from the sewing to the display and she usually wore something she pattern drafted herself that was more of a dress that would be worn at home. Not me. If I’m doing this, it will be as a lady of means by golly. As I’ve aged, I’ve learned to enjoy the freedom that being a bit older gives you. And by freedom, I mean I couldn’t care less what other people think. It’s so liberating! And it’s so FUN! Today I thank my mom for paving the way.

I decided to test out my new dress at the Education Awards luncheon at State Conference on Saturday. This gown took me about 3 months to sew. The pattern must have over a million pieces and the final product weighs about 20 pounds. The overskirt is a brocade I found stuffed on a roll in a back rack at Hancock’s about 3 years ago and the underskirt is a tone-on-tone drapery fabric. I couldn’t find the right shade of lace so I ordered white and tea dyed it. The fit of the bodice was a real challenge and while it fits, it’s not the most comfortable in the armseye. I imagine it would fit better with a corset, but I’m a seamstress, not a masochist. I stuffed the panniers with scraps of quilt batting. The pictures don’t do the dress justice. The green shimmers in the light along with the gold stripe and it’s really beautiful.

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No showing of teeth when you smile. Ladies didn’t do that back then.

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Moving around in that hoop was a true challenge. Sitting in one is its own form of misery. I have respect for my ancestors who suffered through fashion.

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Y’all, this was an absolute BLAST! So many ladies wanted to know about the dress and I received a ton of compliments. One even asked me to make her one for $250…um’ no. I was the only one in costume during the Education Awards luncheon so I was besieged with Daughters who wanted selfies. It was a relief, because these women are sticklers for historical accuracy. Non-convention goers wanted to know why I was dressed like that and I was able to share information about DAR.

Here are the ladies from my chapter before the luncheon began. The only downside to these dresses is that by the time you add the hoop and panniers, you’re as broad as a Chevy Suburban. 😀 It was a fabulous time and I can’t wait to wear it again next month for Fiesta!

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If you are interested in learning more about DAR, please visit their website linked above or if you are local, message me. I’m the Chapter Registrar and help perspectives complete their applications. You need your first three generations of birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage licenses. DAR can help from there. If you are interested in SAR, I can point you in the right direction too.

Applique Bath Towels, Ocean Friends, & a New Spool Quilt

Keith’s daughter Keri visited last weekend with his almost 10-year old granddaughter, Lyric, who was an absolute joy.  They were visiting from North Texas for a wedding that Keri was going to attend over in Gonzales, Tx.

When she arrived, Keri said she forgot to bring a gift and felt bad.  Grammy to the rescue!  Personalized towels are perfect and so easy.  She bought some towels at a local store and then we picked out an applique font and some fabric scraps.  I used the Brother Simply Applique program to create the design.

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I floated the towel over hooped wash-away stabilizer and used a wash-away topper to keep the stitch down stitches from being buried in the pile of the towel.

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They turned out great!

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I dug around for a wedding gift bag in a back closet somewhere and ta-da!  Instant wedding gift.  Keri was so appreciative and thanked me profusely.  You know I loved every minute of doing this.  🙂

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On the day of the wedding, Keith took Lyric fishing on our ranch all day.  He said that girl is a fishing machine and she wore him out!    I think Harley is hoping she drops it.

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They brought home four fish and Keith fried them up for lunch on Sunday.  They were delicious!

Also on Sunday, Lyric spent 5 hours in the sweat shop with me to help me work on the Ocean Friends quilt that I’m making for the son of our neighbor at the coast.  She was so good listening to me and asking questions about what and why.  She learned to use a rotary cutter, how to hold a ruler while cutting, how to thread the machine, she helped to pick out fabrics and she sewed 9 of the Wonky Nine Patch Blocks that go into the quilt.  I was so proud of her.  You should have seen her critiquing her 1/4″ seams!

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Look how the seams match on those blocks.  She was so careful to nest them the way I showed her.  She’s a natural!

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I was sorry to see them go home.  I did however, send a special birthday present for Lyric home with her mom but I can’t tell you what it is because her birthday isn’t until June.  After her experience this weekend, I think she’ll like it!  😉

Monday I went to my local quilt shop and picked up  17 yards of black grunge fabric for a 6″ outer border and backing for my BIL’s t-shirt quilt.  I also got a yard of teal grunge for a 2″ inner border.

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Here the quilt top so far.  I should be able to finish the top this weekend.  The lizard on the ceiling caused quite a stir in my FB group for Beginner Longarm Quilters.  He’s always hanging around keeping an eye on me.  ha ha

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I also saw this quilt made from a panel hanging in the window of the quilt shop.  Of course, I had to add it into the queue…as if it’s not full enough!  I’ve never made a spool quilt and I think it will look great in my new sewing room at the coast.

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Happy quilting!

Short While Storage and Sewing

We’re opening a business!  This is serious stuff ya’ll.  My dad and step mom bought 2.5 acres about a mile from a ginormous high school back in the 90’s…even before Steele HS was there in fact.  And since then, the surrounding area has grown by leaps and bounds with rooftops everywhere that used to be grazing pastures.  Dad passed in ’14 and in ’16 mom realized she couldn’t keep up with the house and land any longer by herself.  We purchased the property from her and happily she now lives about a mile from us (as the crow flies).  There is still a doublewide on the property and finally we have some good tenants in there.  Even back when I first met my husband, I told him I’d always dreamed of opening an RV and boat storage on the back of the property.  Once we bought the property, that’s exactly what we’ve done!  Welcome to Short While Storage, LLC.  🙂

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It’s not much to look at now, but that’s about $25,000 worth of 7′ high commercial grade chain link fence with a 24′ wide automatic gate.  There will eventually be 45 covered RV stalls with open storage across the back.  We’re planning to open our doors on April 1st, 2018!  Contracts are in the works for construction. Here’s what our retirement plan will look like.

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Yes, this is a sewing blog so let’s chat about sewing.  I finished the mountain man and a row of “Legendary” by Elizabeth Hartman and hope to finish the entire top this week.  All trees are complete and I just need to add the sashing and get it all together.

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I bought a coordinating backing and put a top I finished in early ’17 on the longarm.  It’s coming along nicely.

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I made a top from a Craftsy Class by Meg McElwee – Sewing with Knits, 5 Wardrobe Essentials.

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I’m making another top from the same pattern but with long sleeves.  Yesterday I saw this video from Angela Wolf on how to make thumb cuffs/hand warmers so I whipped those up from the same fabric and I’ll add those to the sleeves.  I’ll be needing them tonight at our friend’s Superbowl party.  We’re usually outside the entire time.

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I wore that light gray top to a meeting I had at the Pentagon in Washington DC last week.  It worked perfectly with the blazer.  It’s not in this photo but I think the pic is pretty cool so I wanted to show it to you.  🙂  I wanted to share my philosophy of “Now why can’t we all just get along?” with the powers-that-be at the Pentagon but they wouldn’t let me down that hallway.  LOL

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I went up a day early to sight see in our nation’s capital.  Loved every freezing windy moment of it!  The State of the Union was going to be televised that night so security was pretty tight.

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I finished a beanie for my son who lives in Colorado Springs.  We’re all cursed with larger than normal heads so I had to enlarge a pattern 140% from a Craftsy class I got for sewing with fleece.  That’s $25 a yard PolarTec 100% wind-proof something or other and I’ll sew it into a PolarTec 200 fleece shell.  Then it ‘s off in the mail.  I should get this to him next week.

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I also finished an embroidered towel for a couple in our camping crew.  I did two others last December but didn’t get pics and have already delivered them.

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I also completed one row of my brother-in-law’s t-shirt quilt and stabilized and cut out all the cornerstones from logos off the sleeves. I should be able to finish it up this month or next.  My frame isn’t large enough for a king size so my friend Lisa is going to let me quilt it on her longarm.

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That’s it for now.  I need to get out into the sweat shop and work on that long sleeved T for tonight.  Adios!

Rock & Roll Marathon T-Shirt Quilt

I know now for a fact that I married into a family as crazy as I am.  My brother-in-law, Marc, started running many years ago.  Running.  As in, putting on tennis shoes and moving quicker than walking between extreme distances for no other reason than because he could.  If that’s not crazy, I don’t know what is.  Why on EARTH would you not drive?  I’ve always said, “I’m built for comfort, not for speed.”  Much like a Cadillac ya know?  LOL  One of his brood (and he has 9…NINE) has serious issues with Crohns & Colitis so he took up that charity as a reason to run every single Rock & Roll Marathon he could in 2017.  Here he is with #8, Wyneth (age 18) following the last race of the year in San Antonio last December.  She finished both races WAY before him…because he’s old.  lol  Hi Marc!

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Before they hot-footed it out of town (ha ha), he left me an entire box of shirts from all of his races so I could make him a t-shirt quilt.  I’d agreed to this early on in 2017 so it was no surprise.  Here’s the pile of shirts on the longarm.  They are fairly easy to make since the block is done already but there is a lot of shirt prep that has to occur.  This is my second t-shirt quilt.  My first was for my husband made from his Harley Davidson shirts.

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Here’s some how-to’s to make a t-shirt quilt.  There are several schools of thought on stabilizing t-shirts but I always do and have never had a bad outcome.  T-shirts, whether cotton or synthetic are made to stretch. The odds of stretch and a crappy outcome are VERY high if the shirts are not stabilized no matter whether they are synthetic or just plain cotton t-shirts.  If anyone ever brought me a t-shirt quilt to put on the longarm that wasn’t stabilized, I’d refuse it.  Before he left, I order an entire bolt of Pellon 906 Sheerweight and used the entire thing on this soon-to-be king sized quilt.

First, I cut off the sleeves on the body side of the shirt right next to the seam.  Reason:  if you need any design on the sleeve, you’ll leave the design and any needed seam allowance intact if you cut away on the body side of the sleeve seam.  These designs will be used as cornerstones in the sashing.

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Then cut off the shoulder seams.

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Then cut off the side seams.  Take the side of the shirt you want and head to the ironing board.

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I cut up 25 pieces of stabilizer (5 shirts across and 5 down) that were large enough to cover the design I wanted + one inch on each side lengthwise.  I don’t worry about the height of the design until later but I do put the stabilizer up to the neckline.  I do not stabilize the cotton sashing or the borders – only the shirt pieces in the quilt.

Can you tell how wrinkled this design is from the inside?  It’s been wadded in a box or suitcase ever since the race.  If you don’t press it first, you’ll stabilize the wrinkles which is bad…very bad.

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Because the shirts are synthetic, I used a piece of silk organza to press the area without steam.  Silk organza is a wonderful pressing cloth because it can take pretty much any heat that any iron wants to give it and leave the fabric underneath without any press marks or shiny spots.

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The wrinkles weren’t completely gone, but they were minimal enough to go ahead and stabilize.

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I pressed the sheerweight stabilizer onto the fabric vs. ironing it.  Again, no steam.

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Look how smooth this shirt front turned out.  Now it won’t give me any bias-like issues on the longarm or when adding the sashing.  Do you notice the Roman numerals above the design?  That shirt is #16 in the quilt.  I chalk-in a design order for the blocks in Roman numerals on my quilts because neither chalk nor Frixion pens like to make curves in regular numbers.  It helps that these shirts are going into the quilt in date order and I have a photo of the approved design, but if I have quilt blocks made of regular fabric, once I like a design, I’ll ID them with numbers like II-IV, which is the 2nd row, 4th block.  Works for me.  🙂

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Here’s the final agreed-upon layout – in race date order vs. color wise.  There will be 2″ sashing in between the columns and rows with the 20 Years Running from the sleeves in the cornerstones and 4 corners of the quilt in the border.  The top 3 rows are his half-marathons and the bottom two rows are his 5ks.  There’s a sample cornerstone between rows/columns 3 & 4.  That’s 227.5 miles of shirts.  Like I said, he’s insane.  And he’s 60!

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I really have to take issue with the shirts for San Antonio.  No Alamo?  No city skyline with the Tower of the Americas?  No Military City USA anything?  For a city with an enormous amount of character and the 7th largest in the US, whoever designed these shirts should be fired.  Just sayin’.  Once the shirt is stabilized, having a quilt ruler for just such a purpose, and a rotating quilt mat is enormously helpful.

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I’ll post again when I’m finished!  If you are so inclined, he’d appreciate a donation to the Crohns Colitis Foundation.  http://online.ccfa.org/goto/marcthompson

2018 Ready-to-Wear FAST #2018rtwfast

For some inexplicable reason, I signed up to refrain from purchasing any ready-to-wear (RTW) clothes in 2018.  The blog GoodbyeValentino.com, by Sarah Gunn, co-author of The Tunic Bible (have it/love it), is sponsoring this event and the rules are pretty strict:  I vow not to purchase any RTW clothing in 2018.  That’s it.  I am allowed to wear what’s already in my closet, and I can purchase undies, shoes, and bags, but otherwise…No new jeans, tops, skirts, dresses, shorts, jammies, swimsuits, etc.  That’s a pretty tall order but I’m doing this for a couple of reasons:  1.  Clean out my fabric stash and;  2.  It will force me to improve my garment sewing skills.  There are over 1,000 participants in this year’s #2018rtwfast and there will be drawings and contests with some pretty snazzy prizes throughout the year.  I’m looking forward to it.  I already whipped up a jammie top on New Year’s Day in a darling little Riley Blake knit I got from Mood Fabrics – sorry, no photo because I left it at the coast.

I joined the Vogue pattern club (annual fee of $9.99) and purchased four new patterns that are on sale for $5.99 but I got them for the club price of $4.79 each.  Now that Hancock Fabrics has closed and the nearest JoAnn’s is in another county, I’ll be doing most of my pattern shopping online.  It seems lately I do all my shopping online from fabric (fashion and quilting) to notions.  Heck, I’m even ordering groceries with my phone and doing curbside pickup.  Probably not a bad idea with flu season in full swing.  Here’s what I ordered.

Vogue 9282 – Wide-leg pants

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Vogue 9057 – Shaped Hemline Top by Marci Tilton
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Vogue 9267 – Fit and Flare Dress with Waistband and Pockets
I think this dress will be perfect for work!  I love the neckline, the princess bodice, and the skirt pleats.  I love every bit of this dress.  I’ll probably hack the pattern many times throughout the year to customize it by modifying the neckline, sleeve length, waist position, etc.  My work peeps who might be reading – get ready to get sick of seeing this dress.
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Vogue 9265 – Princess Seam Flare Dress with Poof Sleeves
I have the 2018 Texas State Daughter’s of the American Revolution conference coming up in the beginning of March and I’ve got two evenings where I need to wear a formal.  I have one already hanging in my closet and this pattern will be perfect for the other.    Poofy sleeves are in apparently which is just fine with me now that I’m getting “grandma arms”.  I’m not sure what to do for fabric.

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Now, I’m no clothes horse and I don’t believe I’ve done any serious designer shopping in a couple of decades but I do drop $300-500 a year in places like Roz & Ali (formerly Dress Barn) for work clothes or Tractor Supply for my jeans – hey don’t judge – I’ve got cows!    In fact, jeans will be my biggest challenge this year.  I have Angela Wolff’s pattern but I’m terrified to try it.  I also have Kenneth King’s class on Craftsy.  Come to think of it, I shop pretty heavily in Sisters, a darling ladies shop in Port O’Connor that carries the cutest stuff and I buy a lot of my clothes for work there.  It will be SO hard to step away from the racks and stick to knickknacks and Yellow Box.  I’m just now beginning to realize the money I’m going to save.  $$$$

This challenge will also make me get my dress form into working order.  So I’m all set!  Here we go!

Stitching Santa 2017

One of the coolest things about our sewing community is that we have “secret language”. I can tell someone at my day job about a project I’m working on and while I work with some incredibly intelligent computer people, I mention “needing ballpoint needles for sewing with knits because…well, of course” they look at me like your face would look if I were to say on here, “The PPS has to be registered with AFSPC in order to submit the FSR.”  They might get what a sewing machine needle is but exactly why I need a special one for knits is obscure to them.  Poor dears…

Enter our very own Christmas Angel, Sheila from SewChet, and #StitchingSanta !
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In 2016, a fellow stateside participant in Stitching Santa, Jen Miller, contacted me via email because her secret recipient was a quilter and she had absolutely no idea what a quilter would like.  I provided her a laundry list of items and we corresponded a couple of times over email since then.

Well lo’ and behold, I was her Stitching Santa recipient this year!  She really came through with little necessary quilting gizmos and a handmade little basket to keep them all in.  I was thrilled!  It is so exciting to open gifts from someone who understands how much these things mean to me.  🙂

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I love the cord-wrapped candy cane that will hang in a predominant place on my Christmas tree for years to come to remind me of her sweet gift.  Believe it or not, I especially love the needle threader.  I break the cheap ones constantly and this one was just in time because I just broke my last one.  Jen, thank you SO much!  Look at this little basket.  Isn’t it cute?

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Another successful Stitching Santa has come to a close.  I highly encourage my readers to contact Sheila to get on next year’s list.  I’ve linked to her blog above or the web address in the photo.  Happy New Year to all!