Category Archives: Sewing

Trendsetter and other good news

Fiala was the flowergirl in the wedding of some dear friends in November. I made her dress.

My days aren’t always wonderful.  But, today has been smashing and I don’t want to forget it.

First, our mourning has been turned into dancing.  Earlier this week, we discovered that the awful scraping sound emanating from my Land Barge’s engine was its last, dying gasp.  It needed a new engine — to the tune of $3,500 or so.  This morning, someone called to tell us that, essentially, he is going to pay for it.  This “someone” is returning a favor for house plans that my husband designed for him.  I must confess that I have groused somewhat about what I feel is people taking advantage of my husband’s generosity with his home-designing skills, which he frequently does for free, or very nearly so, on the side*.  It seems to me that folks don’t comprehend the time, effort, skill, and flat-out genius that goes behind their remodel, or whatever.  I have strongly suggested that he charge what he’s worth.  He refuses.  I pout and feel self-righteous about at least internally defending my husband.  However, I will never breathe a word of complaint again.  Even enters my mind I will remind myself that GOD IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL and HE WILL ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF US and no kindness is wasted in God’s economy.  I will give all future unkindly thoughts** a kick to the curb and not let them enter into the dwelling place of my ponderings.  Seriously.  My mind is changed FOREVER.  My paradigm is permanently shifted.

Secondly, something over the last week or so, of which we didn’t hear until today:

  1. Last week at our dentist’s office, as always, my five year old daughter Fiala was unfailingly kind and encouraging. She told the dental assistant, Shawn, that she looked beautiful, and gave her a hug and a kiss.
  2. Shawn went home, and when asked about her day by her elementary-school-aged son, she said that a little girl made her day, describing the incident with Fi… They talked about the name “Fiala”.
  3. The son’s teacher is pregnant with a little girl and (bravely!) told the students that she would let one of them name the baby. She set up a suggestion box in the back. Shawn’s son wrote down “Fiala”.
  4. The teacher announced yesterday (I think) that her new baby would be named Fiala.
  5. Buh-bam! Darling girl is a trend-setter, spreading her sweet spunkiness and genuine affection, getting babies named after her.


*He is also paid to design houses in his full-time job.  🙂
**At least on this topic.  😉

Mama’s got a (staple) gun. The mailman. And other tidbits.

  • I love having a mailman.  We are “recovering” from living for the last nearly-13 years in planned subdivisions whose mailboxes were in kiosks, not adjacent to our actual home.  Our mailman’s name is Tom, a slightly grizzled man with a ponytail who appears to be in his late 50s.  My six-year-old, Audrey, and I spent about ten minutes talking with him yesterday.  I found out that he retired from the Air Force in 1996, was stationed at Luke AFB, lives in Goodyear, and has a dim view of mail carriers who are contractors, instead of actual USPS employees.  We talked about me having five children, him having five dogs, me homeschooling, his misconceptions about homeschooling, and a bit about the folks who used to live in our home.  He also noticed straightaway that Audrey is a girly-girl and Fiala is a tomboy.  🙂  At one point, Audrey looked up at him with some confusion and asked, “Who delivers your mail?”  My fifteen-year-old Ethan removed and repainted our mailbox, and he can’t reinstall it until the second coat of glossy black dries… so I guess we’ll be seeing Tom at our door, come mail time.
  • The day before yesterday, I sewed four panels for the two five-foot windows in our family room which faces the street.  I decided to skimp, somewhat, on the fullness of the panels to allow for enough fabric to recover my dining room chairs, too.  That was a good choice, as the dining room chairs were only briefly ivory-colored.  I scrubbed them thoroughly every 3-6 months, but they were perpetually dingy.  Yesterday, after my ten-year-old, Wesley, removed the seats from the eight chairs, I recovered them, staple-gunning the fabric in place.  It makes such a huge difference.
  • Before and after. Quick! We need to have someone over for dinner while the seats still look nice! Seriously. They were previously in such bad condition it gave me pause, thinking about others having to sit on them.

    • While E and W were at their tasks yesterday, my nearly-thirteen-year-old son Grant was assembling a large, 5-shelf storage unit for my spacious (but unshelved) laundry room.  For each job, at some point, each boy needed my assistance, but by and large, they did the projects by themselves.  I keep thinking, “I knew this day would come…  Or, at least, I hoped this day would come!”  I mean… when your children are all small, and the day is spent investing and teaching and correcting and “helpers” are actually a subtraction to the process, it’s hard to envision a day when you can say, “Here.  Do this task,” and they can actually DO it, and accomplish it well.  I am really pleased to have sons who are at an age that they can REALLY help.  They are each making a significant difference in the repair and move-in process in our new home.
    • Lastly is a picture taken by Audrey this morning.  One of the things I love about homeschooling (not that we’re currently in the school year, as yet) is that our mornings are rarely hurried.  Virtually every morning, I spend a good 15-30 minutes “snugging” Fiala, and often, other children drift in and snug for a few minutes, as well.  Fiala is the best cuddler, though.  🙂  She always brings her green blanket, and usually an assortment of “buddies”.  And, yes, she is nearly four years old and still uses a binky.  Don’t judge.

      This morning, Wesley joined us for a bit… He got a bit rambunctious, though, and I had to shoo him away. Only Fiala has mastered the art of snuggling for closeness’ sake. I love every minute of it.


What I made yesterday

Confession:  If one claims to really detest Walmart, then moves about, oh, 1/3 mile away from a “Super Center”, one might find oneself there, oh, daily.

Seriously.  In my “normal” life, I go to Walmart maybe 3-4 times yearly, and then only for a specific item or two that can’t be found locally anywhere else.  It’s a black hole of plastic and other cheaply-made goods, full of surly employees, and altogether dingy.  I still feel like that.  But, darn it!  It sure is convenient to our our new home.

Speaking of, our new home — for those who didn’t see it on Facebook — is perfect in many regards.  It is a larger house (we moved up from 2111 s.f. to 2380 s.f.) on a much larger property (we moved from a lot size of 7,900 s.f. to 0.37 acres — more than double);  we are 0.9 miles from our church;  we are about 2.5 miles from my mom’s house;  there is an RV gate and a concrete pad where my mother-in-law can park her movable home and stay ALL WINTER, if she’d like (I’d surely like it);  the new home’s location cuts ten-fifteen minutes off of my hubby’s commute;  the house has a pool — which, when the water is finally clear, we will greatly enjoy.  (And, by the way, it is significantly less expensive than the home which we just sold.  So, in the “posh” factor, we’ve moved down.  But in every other regard, we’ve moved up.)

In addition to being 1/3 of a mile from Wally World, we’re about 1/4 mile away from my favorite grocery store, Sprouts.  (A fact that is really unconnected to the rest of this post, except to demonstrate how perfect it is.  My pastor’s wife was helping to clean the house, before we moved in, and she stopped, midway up a flight of stairs.  “You know what I was thinking?  The closest grocery store is Sprouts.  Is that God, or what?  How perfect is that?”  Agreed.  God shows His love, even in the proximity of beloved grocery stores.)

Structurally and mechanically, for a 38-year-old place, the home is in good condition.  The interior needs desperate help, which we are slowly and steadily providing.

One thing that the interior needs is CURTAINS.  Draperies.  Window coverings.  It came with none.  That’s right:  If you drive by our home in the evening, you can see right into our family room, because absolutely nothing is covering those windows.  Not yet, anyway.  I’m working on it.

I made curtains for the bedroom shared by my sons, Wesley and Grant.  I’m not taking any pictures of those yet because I need to add some rings to the top, which droops far too much.  That means taking the curtains back down and sewing 12 more button-holes, and adding rings to them.  I’m just not up for that, yet.

But, yesterday, I made these, with which I am inordinately pleased:

They go over the kitchen sink, which is very inconveniently located in the corner of the kitchen. There is something quite charming about washing dishes and looking out the front windows. Logistically, though, it’s difficult. And the sink basins are perhaps the smallest known to mankind, which really doesn’t work for a family of seven. In the kitchen remodel, the sink will NOT be here.  Hopefully, though, the curtains WILL be, because I love them.  I’m already dreaming of a sea-green, aqua, and chocolate tile backsplash, hoping that such a thing exists.  And light aqua paint for the wall.  In my nearly 17 years as a homeowner, I can safely say that I have never painted a room anywhere close to any shade of blue.

We can easily close them at night. 🙂

Close up of the tie-backs, where you can see that one doesn’t need to sew perfectly straight in order to make cute curtains. Screwed into the window frame is a hook-thingie where one would wind excess string from a Roman shade or something like that. On tie-backs, I sewed elastic loops that fit securely over the hooks. I made a large, fabric-covered button for each of the tie-backs, under which are Velcro closures. So, at night, we just pop open the Velcro and pull the curtain over a bit to close it completely.

I used a kit like this to make the buttons.  I would have preferred the buttons to be metal, but Joann Etc only had the nylon kind:

By the way…  From where did the really lovely, 54″, thickish, blue, green, and chocolate paisley home dec fabric come???


Don’t tell anyone.

Nesting, sort of

I’m in unchartered waters, nesting for someone else!!

My good friend Erin has asked me to be her birth coach… she was due on Sunday the 26th… so, any day now!  So, I find myself looking at my home with an extra-critical eye making sure all my ducks are in a row for me to be able to leave on short notice…

God is good, and the baby will come when it’s the right time.  I actually like the heightened sense of, “Any time now!!”  I’m not tense/nervous at all…  I’m just eager with anticipation!!

Audrey was eight days past my EDD, which were surely the longest days of my life.  🙂

So, if you think of it, pray for a good labor for Erin, who has never done this before!!  I have been present at a few births, but never as a “real” coach, so please pray that I remember helpful things at the appropriate times, and that I am able to encourage and bring peace.  Having hiked with Erin up a mountain, I am confident in her ability to have perseverance and strength for the long haul, but… the shorter the “long haul” the better!

By the way, I did some sewing for the baby’s room.  Here’s a valance I made:

Valance by Karen, Roman shade by Erin

Valance by Karen, Roman shade by Erin

And look at this AMAZING dresser, made for the baby by Erin’s dad:

The room’s all ready, so is Erin and her hubby.  Now, all we need is a baby!!

Learning curve

I like change.  I really do.  I get bored if things get in a rut.  Usually.

But, it often takes me so long to learn “X New Thing” that it makes it not worth it.

A small example might be, say, a new grocery store.  One opened up fairly near to me recently, a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.  Maybe this isn’t a fair comparison, because I’m really not a fan of Wal-Mart anyways.  (I heard on the radio the other day that Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the state.  I found that somewhat disturbing.)  However, I’ve only been in the “Neighborhood Market” twice, both times to pick up one “quick” item.  I will not return.  I like “my” grocery stores, and the time it takes to learn where everything is located, and all the ins and outs of shopping at a new place, well, it’s just not worth it.

I’ve made a few crib bumpers in my sewing days, and I make them pretty much the same.  However, in one I’m making currently, I decided to inspect the (store-bought) one that I’m using in Fiala’s cradle.  I saw that they sewed the two short sides, the bottom long side, then bound the top with… umm… a strip of enforced fabric (I don’t know what the term is).  I thought, “How clever!  What a time saver!”  Previously, I’ve sewn the two long sides, one short side, then turned the whole thing right-side out.  I thought this new way would save so much time.

Well, I won’t go into the reasons why, but I’m now about to rip-stitch out the binding.  For the second time.  The first time, I was only about 1/4 done.  This time, I was about 7/8 done.  Hmph.  It has not been any kind of time saver, due to my mistakes and unforeseen problems.

I’ve learned a lot, like all the things that can go wrong with such a technique.  And, each time I attempt it, I am doing it better.  But, I’m finding myself really wishing I had done it the “old” way in the first place.

However, having a contrasting bound bit across the top is really appealing to me now, and even though I could alter the bumper to do it the old way, I’d lose the contrasting binding, and I really don’t want to do that.  I like the way it looks with contrasting binding.

So… rip stitch it is.

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