Bridesmaid Dresses


The now famous “infinity” style dress was the style my daughter selected for her wedding.  I flew back to Memphis where we made 4 in one day.  There are few (2 seams) and a little elastic attached, and that is all one uses a sewing machine to accomplish.  No hems or handwork needed!  My daughter did all the sewing and I helped with cutting and the pins!  The trick is in the cutting and then how each maid selects to tie her dress.  There are an abundance of youtube clips on how this can be done.  This picture is of my beautiful daughter in law and the grand girls!

The fabric is a four way stretch from Designer Alley Fabrics.  This was a wonderful online store, and very helpful.  I recommend getting swatches for accurate color and “‘hand” (feeling/thickness) of the fabric.  They get a big gold star from me!




I Loved Edith Head!

I grew up in the shadow (within a few miles, that is) of the famous costume/fashion designer Edith Head. I only wish I could have worked under her, if only for free during the summer months. I did have a chance once, and visited her studio. I remember her being interviewed on  TV and how direct and funny she was.

The woman with the most Academy Awards in history!  Her eight favorite men!

My daughter is looking for wedding dress ideas. She led me to a dress online, and I did research only to discover it was an Edith Head creation. So I was sucked into the vortex of the internet, after re-discovering Edith Head all over again and still revere her! If you have a few minutes, go to YouTube, just put in her name and you will have a wonderful “fashion history” time!

Edith had wonderful advice about fashion, and since I am now over 35 (interesting she selected the magic age of 35 for learning to grow old gracefully) I want to share a few of her rules for dressing to appear younger!

How to succeed in looking younger

Good health and a happy spirit are the greatest contributors to appearing youthful. But so too is dressing adroitly.

Maturity is a time for simplification rather than flamboyance. Ruffles, sequins, bold prints, too-high heels, plunging décolletages, tight trousers and bikinis should be banished by those of us who have reached what I prefer to call the ‘interesting age’.

A far handier tool, once you’ve turned 35, is a truthful appraisal of your assets and liabilities.  Here is a wonderful take on Edith, in a stage presentation where she illustrates how to objectively do your own appraisal.

Let’s start at the top

  • If you sometimes think that your neck is getting shorter with the years, the chances are it’s because your chin is getting bigger. This is a signal to keep away from turtlenecks, which have a tendency to make you look as though you have no neck at all. V-necks, soft cowls and stand-away collars make necks look longer, chins smaller and frame the face without focusing attention on the neck. Matinée-length necklaces and pendants, for the same reason, are far better than base-of-the-neck jewelry.
  • Moving down to your bust-line: as the years roll on, this may lack the firmness of yesterday, but with today’s ingenious shape-maker bras, there’s no reason to have anyone realize it.
  • No matter how many years a woman drops from her age verbally, her elbows and upper arms can give her away visually. If, like many women past 35 (and most past 40), you are armed with sagging muscles or have elbows with ‘elephant’ skin, cover them. A tulle stole will do as much for your arms as a soft-focus camera does for some movie stars’ faces.
  • Few women who had 25-inch waistlines in girlhood still boast the same measurements in their later years. Good foundation garments can help smooth out bulges, and the big “don’ts” are obvious: don’t wear wide belts, tied sashes or blouses that terminate at the waist.
  • Skirts with hemline interest – pleats, ruffles or flounces – should be worn only by those with pretty legs; and even the most beautiful legs – Marlene Dietrich’s, for instance – look better when the kneecap is covered.
  • Many women have foot troubles as they grow older, so take a good look at your feet to determine whether they add or subtract from your age image. If they are in the minus column, for Hermès’ sake don’t wear open-strapped sandals. Similarly, a footsore middle-aged female tottering around on high spike heels is a sad sight, and the way her feet feel invariably shows up in the sad-sack expression on her face. Far better to opt for smart, fashionable pumps, which are ageless.
  • Colour plays a very important part in painting a younger picture of you. Soft-focus shades are kindest to mature complexions. Vivid oranges, electric blues and sharp greens are trying for all but the young.
  • Warm beiges with a pink rather than yellow base are flattering to most skins.
  • Neglect will not ravage a teenager’s beauty, but a ‘who cares’ attitude to fingernails, toenails and depilatories in middle age is dangerous.
  • A shorter haircut gives an uplifting effect to the face. Soft wisps of a fringe will conceal some forehead creases. Deftly applied make-up and enough sleep can do wonders for little telltale lines.
  • If your liabilities seem overwhelming, remember this: in all my dressing the world’s most glamorous women, I have yet to meet one who is physically flawless. Most beauties that you think are perfect have defects, but they have learnt how to accentuate the positive and camouflage the negative.
  • You can’t change the size of your feet, the shape of your legs, the colour of your eyes or the texture of your hair.
    But with a successful wardrobe, you can change the way you look as easily as an actress does each time she plays a new role.
  • But remember, too, that wearing the wrong clothes will give your age away faster than your best girlfriend.

Read more:


Reading a Ruler or Tape Measure (non metric)

When sewing, measuring IS the most important skill! Without proper measuring skills, construction just doesn’t work. Imagine someone building a home who never measured. Nothing fits well or looks correct!

Here is a simple graphic of how to read the most basic portion, an inch, of a non metric measuring device. Bookmark this section if you need to reference it if you are not sure in the future!

Dollar Store Doll’s Tea Set

American Girl dolls or as the grand girls call them, “the girls”, are a part of our family! I found this cute little mini toy tea set at our local dollar store, and though it would be perfect for “the girls” to use when they have tea parties.

A dollar later for the tea set, 1/3 yard of inexpensive pink fabric (to match the roses), and 2 yards of trim and a new gift was created.

Add a dollar tin and the gift for “the girls” is ready to wrap!

The gift of sewing skills can let one turn something quite simple, into something more!

Happy stitching and have a wonderful Christmas.

Amish Puzzle Pincushion Used for Christmas Ornament

I found this picture in the December 2010 Better Homes and Gardens, and was intrigued by the construction, but no pattern was found in the magazine. I did a little research. I discovered this seems to come to us from Amish craft women, and was a pincushion which was pretty and so typical of Amish home arts.

No sewing machine is needed for this project!

I drafted up a rough pattern and went to work

2 sheets of craft felt (as sold in craft/fabric stores)
Poly stuffing
Sewing thread of desired color (s)
Beads or buttons (optional as desired for embellishment)

Cut felt pieces:
You need a total of 36 pieces

You will notice I selected my colors to resemble a poinsettia.
(I need “soft” low hanging ornaments since I have grand babies)

Use a blanket stitch to sew three sections together, leaving about a one inch opening on last side.
Use this opening to stuff with fiberfill and continue to sew this last inch closed. You will end up with 12 segments.

Begin to sew tips together to form the following arrangement

Join the last 4 tips together to form ball

At this point one can embellish the ball as desired. See the magazine picture above for some inspiration.

I choose to use gold embroidery thread to make “safer for kids” ornaments.

I sewed, with double gold thread crisscross, where all tips were joined together to give the poinsettia “look”. Use a thread or ribbon to attach a hanging loop.

Happy Christmas Stitching!

Re-Visiting a Sewing Machine

Today I taught a private lesson that took me back in time. My student was new to sewing, but had been given a very old “vintage” Husqvarna Viking sewing machine, not much different than the one I sewed on for years. Here is a picture of the model I was presented with today.

All the bells and whistles of this wonderful machine came back within a few minutes. The best part of using this machine was the feel. I will never forget the feel of a smooth running mechanical sewing machine and to use it was pure bliss! The machine model I had is below, and yes, I just plain wore out this machine! You will notice the machine I had was a newer model since it had a carry handle, something the older machine didn’t have, but it was still the “same” machine in many ways.

This was a fun teaching day and this student is going to do so well. I love giving “birth” to a new sewer!

Happy stitching!

Teaching a 7 year old to sew.

Making lasting good sewing memories!

For several years I have sewn with my oldest granddaughter by my side.  She was always egging me on to sew doll clothes and other critters (see my post here) with a little Janome Mini sewing machine. I purchased this machine on sale for $39.99 on a whim from Hancock Fabrics since I had small granddaughters (You can get one here).  I kept the carrot out in front of her that soon she would be able to sew with the machine.

FINALLY she was old enough and we had 2 glorious days when she was on vacation from school and mommy and daddy were on a mini get away vacation.  I kept in my head that if it was too hard for her we would not proceed, but this child is very good at drawing, writing and cutting.  Along with a good attention span, and I felt it might be the right time.

I started her introduction with Sharpie lines drawn on paper, straight line, then lines that formed boxes, then in curves like ocean waves.  Without thread in the sewing machine she punched away, holding them up to the light to see the holes.

  • First teach what the sewing presser “foot” and take up lever are /do on a sewing machine
  • Second name the foot power pedal the “pedal” so the difference from the foot can be explained when sewing.
  • Third learn what the hand wheel is and which way to turn it.
  • Turning corners is a great practice to learn to use the take up lever, needle down concept while learning to control the pedal use.

As I fixed supper she was working away with the machine, hopping up and down to show me what she had done, giggling with delight!

We then traced out a very basic pine tree and drew it onto a brown paper sack and cut it out.  We were going to sew around it in green thread.

  • How to wind a bobbin (the cute little spool of thread that is wound on a bobbin that looks kind of like a donut).
  • How to put a bobbin into the bobbin case of the sewing machine
  • How to use the spool to thread a sewing machine, using the thread guides
  • Threading the eye of the needle
  • Testing the stitches to see if we did the job correctly (HINT: Ugly on top, bobbin not correct. Ugly on the bottom, the spool not threaded correctly)

Now we were ready sew around the paper tree.  We laughed, if it was funky, we would just do it again…no big deal!  We cut new shapes, and around we went.  She used the edge of the presser foot as her guild for sewing even.  While I fixed breakfast the next morning, she was back at the sewing machine working away.

Kit, her beloved 18″ American Girl doll is the perfect size with which to start sewing projects.  I went to the web page that has the .jpg ( free ) for Molly clothes and downloaded the one piece pajama bottoms.  As a side, this is the same project, but adult size I use to start beginning adults. (If you are interested in the dolls pattern: ).  After I printed out the 4 pieces that make the pants, we taped them all together like the puzzle they are, and with PAPER scissors, cut them out.  I started the girls cutting paper dolls at 4 to help them with basic skills.  We then went into Grandma’s stash of fabric, picked out our “favorite color, pink” fabric.  We pinned and cut together, with Audrey doing most of the cutting as I sat and watched.  Lots of praise, never a “let me do it” from me, but a “let me show you” then turning it over to the child.  Sure I could have done the whole thing, but this is not what teaching sewing is about.  I would tell stories about how I goofed up lots, and how every time I made a goof I learned something new!  We talked about how our bodies are not flat, but curved and we have to remember that when we sew.  She asked me, how do people know how to make patterns, and we talked about how some people do that for their jobs.

Step by step WE worked through the process of the pants.  Patience is the name of the game for Grandma, learning is the game for the child!  We talked about how irons and sewing machines work together.  I have a mini iron, that does not get too hot, and she learned to use it.  Before long we had performed magic, and she turned her Kit’s sleep pant right side out, and saw the “magic” of sewing.

Audrey doing the “magic”!

As I was driving her back to her house, she was planning what she was going to make next time!

WE both had a good time!

More information about Janome Mini?  I have referred to this as a “toy”, and it is NOT, it is a mini sewing tool!

*BOLD used to indicate sewing vocabulary

Covered Snaps

I have always been a big fan of covered snaps to give a garment a classy/custom finish!  Threads Magazine has a tutorial on it .  I have an additional technique to assist while doing the sewing.  Little snaps are difficult to hold onto when covering, so I use a 3×5 index card to hold my snaps while I sew the covering over the snap.

These picture show a hint on helping you accomplish a beautiful covered snap!

1. Cut the fabric you are going to use to cover the snaps, and prep with centered holes to pierce with the snap male part.  Also make a hole in the 3×5 card.

2.  Sandwich as follows.  female 1/2 of snap, fabric, card, fabric, male snap.  Snap together. (I do some trimming at this point for better control).

3.  Run gathering stitch around the snap, pull up threads and finish as the magazine shows.

Happy Beautiful Finishes!

Mad Men Style for Halloween Date!

My daughter-in-law loves the styles in Mad Men.  She asked if I would make her a “vintage dress” to wear to their Halloween party.  Of course I was thrilled to do this for her.  She purchased the very vintage pattern from ebay and I went through my stash of fabric and supplies and came up with this creation.  We changed the first button selection to some 4 petal flowers I had in my collection, and I added a placket down the front to set off the buttons.  Also, I found some “vintage” cording in my trim supply and added that to set off the details of the dress.

Notice the very vintage side placket closed top zipper. The design lines on the zipper illustration have lots in common with the actual pattern used!

Pocket detail, cording shows off the top of the pocket edge (sleeves and neckline) much more than leaving the top plain.

Finished dress before delivery

The happy “vintage” couple!  (These gloves were my mom’s.  I remember being amused trying them on in church!)