Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Living Doll!!!

Here's Little Miss C in her Christening gown.  Her mom, my daughter's best friend, sent these to me via email!  Isn't see a true "living doll"?  I've never gotten to see her in person.  I just want to reach out and squeeze her!!!! Her mom said that she liked to play with the bows on the skirt.  I forgot to mention that I did the skirt embroidery design in a triangular shape to represent the Trinity.  That's why there are three bows, too.                                                                                              

Friday, October 29, 2010

Painting the Town..........and an ominous sky.........

The daughter of one of the nursing home residents works at a furniture store here in town.  She suggested to the owner that he let me paint the Christmas scenes in his windows this year.  I was thinking of asking him myself.  I noticed that someone had painted them for him last year. He wanted one Santa painting and one                                                              
nativity painting.   So, that's what I did.  He paid me for my work.  This could be a fun little part time job!
The other night we had some terrible storms all around us.  I took these first two pictures from our driveway facing the North.  For the last one, I just turned around and took one facing the South.  What a difference!  We were fortunate that no tornadoes touched down very close to us, but doesn't that look like a funnel cloud to you?  There was a tornado in Chattanooga, which is about an hour from here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Christening Gown Finished!

Little Miss C's Christening gown is completed.  I will get it in the mail to her soon.
 Her mom sent me this family heirloom handkerchief with the initial of the family's last name, which happens to be Miss C's first name.  I love the way our next generation is passing along these family names.  As you see, I used the handkerchief on the bodice.  It looks a little wanky at the sleeve cap in this photo, but it really doesn't look that way in real life.  I made tiny, tiny, tiny piping to attach the smocked skirt to the under bodice and to go around the neck and down the back opening.  I also used it across the sleeve caps.
 Miss C's mom told me she liked dainty embroidery, inserted lace, and ribbon.  So, I incorporated all of those things into this gown.  For the inserted lace, I attached lace to either side of narrow ribbon, and then I attached entredeaux to either side of the lace before sewing it to the fabric.
 For the scalloped design on the skirt, I first did the madeira applique technique, which I showed more in detail in my last post.  I embroidered along the edge of the applique, below it with a feather stitch, and above it with a little flower and French knots.  On the skirt front I embroidered a triangular shape outlined with ribbon that I attached with a modified feathered stitch, inside that is another row of feather stitches, then on the inside are more little flowers and French knots.  Along the bottom of the hem, I attached lace by hand along the shell stitch which I also did by hand. 
 Here's a fuzzy close up of the sleeve, which has the inserted lace, ribbon, entredeaux combination, a row of feather stitching, and more flowers and French knots.  For the gathering, I ran ribbon through casing that I made from the same fabric.  I made two tiny button holes for pulling the ribbon through for tying into the bows and for gathering.  There's more lace hand stitched to the hand shell stitched hem of the sleeves.
 The handkerchief makes the overlay of the back bodice, as well.  I had to cut the corners of the handkerchief off at the shoulders, and since they were embroidered with such a pretty and dainty design, I sewed it to the bottom of the overlay at an angle.  I simply added long streamers of ribbon to tie for the back closure, as well as, a tiny snap where the bodice and skirt meet.
The fabric for this gown is ecru cotton blend batiste.  I decided on the blend so it wouldn't wrinkle so badly.  The gown is ecru rather than snow white, because the handkerchief, being vintage, isn't pure white.  I didn't want it to look yellowed.  It matches very well.
 Of course, Miss C has to have a slip.  I scalloped the hem and trimmed it with the same lace that I used on the gown.  The opening is on the left shoulder and ties closed with more ribbon.
 For the slip, I made the shell stitch on my machine. I did this by tightening my tension, reversing the blind stitch (or hem stitch), and sewing on the edge, so when the needle swung out, it actually went off the edge and pulled tightly, to form the little shells.
I hope that Miss C's mom is happy with this gown.  I was lucky enough to get to make Miss C's big brother's gown three years ago.  His was a "manly gown" with tucks, pleats, and baby blue buttons and blue piping.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Recent Trip, Down Home, and A Sneak Peek

Even though we knew that my mother probably only had a short time left, we went ahead and left for our trip up to the NE, knowing that we might have to turn around and come home.  But, Mother hung on until we got home.  We got home on Wednesday.  She died on Saturday morning.  It's almost like she knew she needed to wait. I'm so glad that I was here.  I'm also glad we got to go on this trip.  We had so much fun!                                                            
We recently went to the NE to celebrate Miss J's birthday.  Here she is with big sis watching her blow out her candles.  My daughter makes the most beautiful cakes.  She made the flowers from colored chocolate, but she had me make the iciing.  Don't ask what I did wrong, but obviously something, because it was way too runny.  The color is pretty, though.
Little sis ran around playing in her "pretty princess dress"  that I made for her birthday last year.  She played as hard as any of the other kids, climbing the ladder, sliding down the slide, playing on the see-saw, etc.....
I took the Halloween costumes to them.  Here I am with the three big girls.  I can't believe I am posting a photo of myself!
My husband and me at Newport Beach, RI.  Again, I'm posting my photo!  What is up with that!?!
Papaw, my father-in-law, went with us.  Here he is with the three big girls at Newport.  This was a great trip for him. We really enjoyed his company and the grands were thrilled to have him there.
We went to a Shaker Village in MA.  This is the unique round barn.  How interesting it was!

We also went to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA.  That was fun!!!!  There were several displays about Pat Summitt, Tennessee's women's basketball coach!!!
Grandaddy and Little Man painting flower pots to plant with wheat seeds.  This was my husband's birthday present from our daughter and her little family.  What fun they had, and how proud my husband is that the wheat is already growing.
While the family was here for my mother's funeral this past weekend, Papaw got the tractor out for rides.  This is Lil'E, who seemed a little nervous.
Here's one of my cousins holding Lil'B in her Halloween outfit.  Aren't those leg warmers cute?!  I didn't ask for my cousin's permission to post this.  Hope he doesn't mind.  He probably won't ever know.
These four pictures show a sneak peek at the Christening gown I'm making.  The top photo shows the smocking.  The next shows what I've done on the bottom of the skirt.  I did a madeira appliqued hem line.  I hand stitched around the scallops to hold them to the dress.  Then, I embroidered a simple little design with a flower and French knots across the top of the scallops.  The bottom two pictures show how I painted liquid starch across the top of each scallop and then ironed them down.  This makes a really smooth, even fold around these curves.  The starch washes out.  I used a pen with wash out ink to draw the scallops.  I used an embroidery hoop as a guide.  It was exactly the right size!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Celebration of Life!

We held a celebration of life for my mother.  She did not want a typical funeral.  She did not want to have a time of receiving friends for viewing of the body.  We had just a private family viewing time.  We were all sitting there quiet and somber when my brother stood up and said that it would be okay for us to talk and remember Mother.  Several of us told stories for a little while before the pastor came in to have a prayer with us.  He said it was very refreshing to hear laughter because that is what Mother would have wanted.
Then, we went to the cemetery and had her graveside service, which was very brief.  The pastor had just a short message, a little scripture, and a prayer before we left to go to the church for a memorial service.
 When we were thinking about what scripture to be read, etc.... I thought to look through Mother's Bible to see if she had any special scriptures marked, underlined, highlighted, etc..... She didn't, but she did have some things in her Bible that were of obvious importance to her.  There were a couple of pages that she had torn out of some devotional book that had scripture.  One of the verses was from James 3:13 "Who is wise and understanding among you?  Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom."
The prayer at the end of this devotional read, "Great God, you know our worth, and you love us, no matter what our age may be.  As long as we live, teach us the best way to give.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen"
There was a short note that she had written that explained in her own words what one of the scriptures meant to her. This scripture was  from Romans 15:1 and in her words is, "Even if we believe that it makes no difference to the Lord whether we do these things, still we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves for we must bear the burden of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others."

Mother lived her life in service to others.  She was a teacher and later a social worker for Children Services.  Even after she retired she was on the Foster Care Review Board and on the Habitat for Humanity Board, was very active in her church and in ministries of the women of the church.  She constantly was reminding us to be mindful of the feelings and needs of others.

Education was important to Mother.  She had an undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee in Zoology.  She then went to Atlanta and studied to become a Lab Technician.  This was in the 40s when not many women went off to college, and if they did most of them majored in education, nursing, or home economics.  We never even gave thought to not going on to college when we were growing up.  It was just an understanding.

Mother had planned the service except for the part our pastor called "Remembrances".   My niece, who is the oldest of the grandchildren asked if she could tell a bit about Grandmother's life and about the kind of person she was to her.  She honored Mother in such a beautiful way, by telling about Christmases at her house, the stability she provided to her and her sister when her parents divorced when she was young, and about the little quirky things that made our mother so unique.  Then she asked if anyone else had stories to tell.  I went first, of course, and told about when mother made me laugh a couple of months ago (I blogged about this in July), and I read a note that I found in her stuff that I had written to her when I was probably about 10 years old.  It reads,
"Dear Mother,
I love you very much.  You have been kind to me.  But I've not been kind to you as much.  I'm sorry, for everything, I've done to make you unhappy....
You are the sweatest mother, I wouldn't have another in all my life.
Yours truly, Julia"
(I left the punctuation and spelling just as I had written the original note.  I don't know what I was apologizing for but I must have done something pretty bad!)

Then, I told a story that my brother was planning to tell.  He chickened out at the last minute.
When he was in the Navy,  our mother wrote to him every day.  He never wrote back.  So.......our mother wrote to his commanding officer and asked if he was okay because she never heard from him.  His commanding officer called him into his office and gave him a piece of paper and a pen and told him to write to her right then and there and ordered him to write to her from then on at least once a week.  He was in the Navy 22 years, and he never failed to write to her each week from then on.

Another story was told by my cousin, who was 16 when his mother died.  Our mother moved into their house to take care of him and his younger brother.  The 16 year old liked to stay out late and didn't like rules.  So, one Saturday night when he was out late she wrote a Proclamation that said something like this......."Whereas, everyone in this house does pretty much whatever they want to do from Monday through Saturday, I proclaim that on Sunday morning everyone in this house WILL get up and go to church!!!"  Sometime later, on a Saturday evening when Mother had gone somewhere with her friends, and my cousin happened to be home earlier than she, he wrote her a note that said, "Dear Aunt Ruth, I can't wate (that's how he spelled it) up any longer so I'm going to bed.  I hope you won't stay out late like this any more.  Please turn out the lights and lock the door.  Ha!"  (These aren't the exact words, but pretty close.)
There were a few other stories told that made the service personal and, as Mother wanted, celebratory.

  She chose the hymns, who was to sing, play the piano and organ, who were to be the pall bearers and honorary pall bearers.  She also decided on the order that we were to do things.  That's why the burial was first, then the service, and then........
she wanted us to have a "party" to celebrate her life.  She wanted a gathering of friends and family.  She wanted refreshments.
So, some of the ladies in our church got together and made cookies, brownies, shortbread, etc.... and punch.  We had a display of photographs of Mother from when she was a little child throughout her life till recent photos with her great grandchildren. Some photos were of her with her dear friends at various celebrations of birthdays, church functions, trips they took together.  There was one photo of her with her brother and her best friend, who died in August, that must have been taken at Halloween since they all had on costumes.  We saw people we haven't seen in a long time.  We had so much food brought to the house that we were able to feed over 40 members of the family who were here along with several close friends, for the whole weekend and still have some left over.  Everyone in the family has gone now, and most are already back to their homes.  It is very quiet in our house.  I welcomed the noise, which was mostly laughter of children and of us grownups telling even more stories.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Finally, my mother is at peace.  She died at 5:55 this morning.
Go to my blog.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Back to Reality

We're home from a quick trip up to the beautiful NE!  The fall colors and the weather were perfect the whole time we were there.  The rain stopped just for us!  We got to visit with 2 daughters and their families.  The primary purpose of the trip was to celebrate Miss J's 8th birthday.  It's hard to believe how grown up she is all of a sudden.  I took all the Halloween costumes and they were all excited about them.  Little Miss R modeled her Medusa costume at the birthday party.
We're back to reality.  I'm trying to get my house in order, visiting my mom, sewing some, doing laundry, you know, all that stuff.  We don't know if we are looking at days? or weeks? with my mother, so I probably won't be on here much in the near future.  Just please keep her in your prayers.  She is calm and seems to be at peace right now. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vanilla Ripple

Our 19 1/2 year old cat, Vanilla Ripple, slipped away from us in her sleep today.  We are very sad, but we are thankful that she went the way she did, so peacefully.  My husband and I took turns holding her till about 2 am this morning.  We finally fixed her a special bed beside ours and let her sleep there.  We didn't think she would make it through the night, but she was a tough old lady!!!!!
 She slipped into a coma about midday.  My husband and I took turns being with her and checking on her every few minutes.  I was with her when she took her last breath.  I wrapped her in a pretty cloth, put a note and a flower in a box with her, and then we buried her in our front flower garden.  We marked the spot with some river rocks. 
 She is at peace.  Her health had been failing for a while, now.  She had stopped eating.
 Just in the past few days she wasn't able to jump up on the kitchen counter and some of the furniture.  It is a real blessing that she went as easily as she did.  She's been a good cat, even if somewhat spoiled.  She was a house cat and the epitome of a "Scaredy Cat"!  She was very shy, and would hide whenever we had company.  She did become bolder in her last year or so, though.  I guess it was just too much trouble for her to go find a place to hide.
We'll miss her.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Donna Sent Me An Award!

Donna sent this awesome award to me recently, and I just haven't had a chance to post about it until now.  Donna is a real inspiration to me.   I have linked to her Comin' Home blog, but she has several.  You really need to check her out.   You won't be sorry.  She loves to cook.  She loves her family and her friends.  I am so glad that I found her.  Thank you, Donna.
I'm supposed to tell you ten things about myself that you don't know, but I think I have pretty much exhausted those boring facts.  Let me see if I can think of one of my most embarrassing moments in life.  I guess this counts as something you don't know.
When we were 13, my friends and I would ride the bus to Knoxville to shop, go to a movie, and have lunch.  On the way home from one of these trips, one of my friends and I went to the bathroom on the bus.  You know how girls this age can't "go" alone!  Anyway, as the bus rounded a sharp curve, yep, you guessed it, my friend, who had just finished "going" fell against me, and I fell against the door.  We fell out of the bathroom!  We just about died.  So what did we do?  We did what any other sensible 13 year old girls (what an oxymoron) would do.  We jumped back into the bathroom and slammed the door shut!  When we finally got our nerve up to go back out, we found that we had jammed the door.  We had to beat on the door before we could get it opened.  Of course, we caused another big ruckus!  Our other friends, who were on the bus with us, pretended not to know us.  When we finally got to our little hometown and departed the bus, the other passengers applauded us!!!!! I typed this in red, because that's the color my face gets every time I remember this episode!  This friend and I are still very good friends.  She is the director of our area Arts Council.
Now, for passing this award along: the rule is to pass it on to 15 of the blogs you have recently begun following.  Because I think that if someone is kind enough to spend the time to send you an award, you should definitely pass it on.  However, this time, I am going to offer it up to all of my followers to take if you want.  I don't follow any blogs that aren't deserving of such an award!!!  You all have Beautiful blogs.  As you know, if you have been following my blogs, I have been pretty bogged down lately with circumstances of life that are taking my time and my energy.  I have been doing well to get my sewing projects for my grands done, and keeping up (sort of ) with blogging.

This picture has nothing to do with anything, but it was in an email that my cousin recently sent me, and I just had to post it.  I LOVE this picture!  It made me laugh, and I needed a good laugh.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Gift From Susan and a New Set of Fairy Wings

Imagine how excited I was when I opened my mail box and found this envelop with these beautiful vintage patterns.  Susan sent them to me!  I've been reading her blog forever!  You will love it, too, if you haven't already become one of her faithful followers.  She makes quilts like you wouldn't believe!  I love her color choices.  She also cooks!  Yummy!

 As I wrote in my last post, I wasn't happy with Lil'B's fairy wings so I made her some new ones.  In case you missed my last post I'll fill you in a bit.   Lil'E, who is Lil'B's big 3 year old sister, ordered fairy costumes for both of them.  She wants to be a yellow fairy with blue wings and just a little pink.  She wants Lil'B, the 2 month old's costume to be green with blue wings and a little pink.  The original wings that I made for Lil'B were stiff and would be uncomfy for a little one, so I found this light blue sheer fabric and made puffy wings with no wire involved.  I took a large square and using a long basting stitch with my machine, I sewed four circles that met in the middle.  There was no precision to this process at all.  I then pulled the threads to gather the fabric and used a pony tail elastic band to hold the gathers together.  I then ties the polka dot ribbon around the center.  The ribbon threads through sash holders on the sides of the waist line on the fairly costume and then ties in the front.   The polka dot ribbon has colors that tie the whole costume together.  My bear looks pretty cute in this outfit, don't ya think?

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Our Lil'E wants to be a yellow fairy with blue wings with a little pink.  This is what Granmomma has come up with for her.  I hope she likes it.  I initially thought I would use a light blue, but the tulle didn't look blue, it looked white, so I decided that if I was going to do blue, I'd do BLUE!  I had intended to use a fairy costume pattern for this, but when I pulled out the pattern pieces I changed my mind and decided to WING it!!!   For the underskirt I made satin petals to sew to the skirt.  The next layer is netting cut in petal shapes.  The next layer is petal shaped tulle, then the top one is satin trimmed with pink ribbon. These top three layers are all sewn to the pink around the waist, then sewn to the bodice. 
For the wings, I shaped 20 gauge wire into wings, then I attached blue tulle, don't ask for details here, I played with this for a couple of hours before I was satisfied.  I added the pink and yellow ribbon flower to the back of the wings to tie the colors all together.  For Lil' E to wear the wings, I attached yellow ribbon that will go over her shoulders, around behind her and through a loop that is on the wings, then around to her front and tied at the waist.  This should help hold the wings in place. 
Next, is for Lil' B.  Lil' E said that her baby sister should be a green fairy with blue wings and a little pink.  I am not happy with her wings, so those are going to be done over today.  I made the dress in green satin and used green tulle as an under skirt.  I made the sleeves from the same pink that I used on Lil' E's.  The polka dotted ribbon is actually attached to the wings, goes through sash loops on the side waist line and tied in front to hold the wings in place.  But, I'm not going to show you the wings right now. The little bloomers came from Walmart.  The other day, I found these little sets that have a onsie, a shirt and a pair of bloomers that coordinate, all for $1.00!!!!  I bought two sets.  Lil'B can wear these all winter long out in the desert!  The bloomers can be worn under little dresses, too.  I bought this pink set and a lavender one.
Lil'E also wants her two favorite dolls to dress up as fairies.  So, being the pushover Granmomma that I am, I made these two quick little costumes.  These are not Lil'E's actual dolls, but some I have at my house.  Simple, simple, simple.  There's very little time or effort put into these two costumes. 
Do you remember that the only thing I hadn't finished on Hermione's costume was the tie?  Here it is.  I used some gold velvet that I think had belonged to my husband's grandmother.  I inherited all of her fabrics.  The burgundy is made from scraps from the cape.  I just sewed on the stripes in a diagonal direction.  I borrowed one of my husband's ties, even though I've made several ties, I had forgotten exactly how this should be made.
I do believe, except for new wings for Lil' B, I am finished with Halloween costumes for another year!  Next year there will be 7 to make!!!
I guess you wonder why I always make these so soon before Halloween.  Well, since I have so many to make.................... and because we usually make a quick trip to the NE for Miss J's birthday,  I can take the ones that go up there with us.  Also, I have to get Lil'E's and Lil'B's in the mail. 
I feel so relieved to be finished, even though, as I've said before, this is probably the project I enjoy the most of all!  I love to find out what they all want to "BE" and then trying to figure out just how I'm going to create them.
My next project is a very serious, but fun, one.   I get to make a Christening gown for my daughter's friend.  I've bought the fabric, and have a design in my head.  Now, if I can just produce what I'm "seeing"! I will be incorporating an heirloom family hadkerchief into this dress that this little one's mom sent to me. 
For an update on what's going on with my mother, go to my other blog that is listed at the top of my sidebar.

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