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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Wednesday Showcase/Table Turned

Gifts come in all sorts of ways! 

Last summer I injured my back and I have suffered with it since. I initially went to a rehab facility that combines chiropractic work with exercise. Rather than get better, it got worse! My doctor suggested that I concentrate on acupuncture and massage and allow the area time to heal, which I did, but of course I skied and hiked throughout the winter. The acupuncture and massage have helped, but the pain is persistent. Some days are fairly good, and some days rather terrible, but either way, the pain is never completely gone. So I decided to see an orthopedic doctor who specializes in back pain. As it turns out, it's caused from an old injury to my spine. I fell down the stairs about 10 years ago and really hurt my back. It healed though and I thought nothing of it until the doctor told me that the pain is caused from an old injury. He feels that the correct type of rehab exercises will help to strengthen the muscles around the area and I will once again be pain free. Fingers crossed :)  

I had a rotten headache yesterday, the kind that just won't go away, and of course, I had a rehab appointment. Off I went, feeling a bit sorry for myself. While waiting for my therapist, I opened my mail, and there was a little gift.

Just a few days ago, I needed to quickly throw on something that looked halfway decent, so I pulled out this little dress that I did for a Fabulous Free Pattern Friday post, The Magic Rectangle Dress.



As I pulled it on, the thought came to me that I should make another and revisit the post as I really enjoy wearing this dress. Perfect for summer. 

The message I received was from Maria Geer of Stitch and Sew. She loves to sew and her blog is all about sharing sewing tips, new products, and continuing to build this wonderful sewing community that we all love. 

Her most recent blog post is entitled, My Top 100 Free Sewing Patterns, and low and behold...my little Magic Rectangle Dress made it as one of her 100 favorite patterns!!!! Wow, now talk about telepathy ;)

I have gone through her list and it's wonderful. There are patterns for holidays, cute pieces to make for children, toys, quilts, bags, clothing for women, just so much!

Here are a few of my favorites;

Love this super cute whale. Great for a baby shower.



Such a fun hat for summer or winter.



Summer perfect dresses for big girls and little girls.


A fun faux fur vest for when cooler temps roll around once again.



A great carry-all bag with a secure closure. 



We can never have enough cute tees for summer.


Now this is just a small sample of the patterns that Maria has shared, so pop over, check out her POST. I think you'll find lots of fun ideas.

And a special thank you to Maria for featuring one of my pieces. Such a wonderful surprise!!!



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Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Morning Inspiration/A Soldier's Story

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States, a day to remember those who have fought for our country. It's a gorgeous day here in Chicago, and I will most likely spend most of my day outside. 

Rather than my typical Monday morning inspiration piece, I thought I would re-share a piece I wrote in 2011. If you have followed the blog for some time, you may have read it, but for some, it will be new.

As you read this piece, I hope that it will inspire you to reflect on your own loved ones who have perished, be it in a war, or any other senseless act of violence.  



Alfred Youngblood

A faded picture from so long ago. On the left is my grandfather, Alfred Youngblood, and beside him a man who sadly no longer has a name. Two young men in their early twenties transported to a country that until then, only existed in a school book. Standing on a street somewhere in France, their uniforms dirty and tattered, the picture captures their image, but not their thoughts. World War I, the war to end all wars, but now we know that it was just the warm up for future wars.


One of my most precious possessions, a postcard that my grandfather sent to my grandmother. Although it's old and faded, it's still so beautiful. The embroidered flap opens and inside is a small card. The postcard was my grandfather's Christmas present to my grandmother that year. On the back of the card he wrote the date, December 3,1918, "To Elvera, From a Soldier Friend." At this time, they had not married.



His short note on the back of the postcard gives a hint of what he must have been feeling. He talks about being cold, he says that he wishes he could be with her at Christmas, but uses the words "I fear not." Cold, lonely and afraid, he then says that he has nothing to say. Hell was bursting around him, but there was "nothing to say." The note ends with, " Be nice and think of S.B.B." I have no idea what this means, maybe a secret that they shared together and now will remain theirs alone.

The war took it's toll on Alfred. He came home and married Elvera but it wasn't long until alcohol became his friend. He always worked, and worked hard, provided a home and almost all that his family needed, but he could not give the gift of himself. As the years continued on, he became an angry old man.

I always adored my grandparents. All my mother had to say was, "I'm taking you to your grandmother's house," and I would be at the car and ready to go. 

One day when I was just about four, she dropped me off for the afternoon. When we arrived, my grandparents were standing in the back at the end of the driveway. I jumped out of the car and ran toward them with the energy of a race horse. Their driveway was covered in crushed oyster shells. I tripped and went flying. As I rolled over, the first thing I saw was that the palm of my hand had completely peeled open. I sat there horrified looking at the inside of  my hand. My grandparents ran to me. Alfred said nothing but immediately picked me up and ran with me into the house. He took me into the bathroom, sat me down on the toilet and began taking things from the medicine cabinet. My grandmother held my hand, palm side up while my grandfather meticulously picked the shells from my knees. He then stood me up, took me to the sink and began to work on my hand. My knees ached, but all I wanted to do was look at my hand. Alfred told my grandmother to hold my head as he picked the shells from my palm and then I remember screaming as he poured iodine into the fresh wound. The skin was carefully folded back in place and my hand bandaged. Every day or so, my mother would bring me back and my grandfather would remove the bandages and redress the wound. I remember being amazed as I watched my hand heal. Today all that is left is a small, comma shaped scar.  

Many years later, I was working as a costume designer. For 
this particular show, I needed military pieces. While rummaging through a military surplus store, I came across a box full of the leg wraps that soldiers wore during WWI. There was one, completely blood soaked. I picked it up with my left hand and when I did, I saw the scar in my palm. At that moment, I was so overcome with emotion that all I could do was sit down on the floor. As I looked at the blood soaked legging, my memory immediately flashed back to the day I fell, and in that moment I knew that when grandfather picked me up and rushed me into the house, this was not the first time that he had seen skin pulled away from the body. His expertise in helping me heal had more than likely come at the expense of another's life.

Before he died, I tried to get my grandfather to talk about his experience during the war. He refused. Rather than speak, he would sit in his rocking chair and sing a song. Sadly, I didn't listen to the words of the song as I thought he was just trying to avoid talking to me. He was. But, had I listened, I think I may have learned something about his experience, and maybe even the soldier that he tried to save. Now I will never know. 

Alfred Youngblood grew up on a farm in east Texas, went to war, came home, married, and continued to fight that war in his mind. 

I once read that the soldiers of WWI refused to come home and talk about the war as they wanted to leave it there, where it was. Regardless of their desire, the war came home, tucked inside their minds. There was no help for them. They were expected to just go on with their lives.  

The dictionary describes a comma as a pause, a separation. My grandfather and I were never as close as I would have liked to have been, nor as close as I now believe he also would have liked. But, we are connected, by a small comma shaped scar that I carry in the palm of my hand. A comma that reminds me to pause, to remember, to have compassion, and to respect a man who did the best that he could.  



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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sew Now Magazine and Free Patterns!

Earlier this past week, I attended a luncheon with my husband, and had such a nice time. The woman who waited on us was such a hoot!!! I watched as she diligently worked to serve us, and when she placed my soup in front of me, I thanked her for working so hard to create such a lovely experience for all of us. That was all it took, we were friends :) As she bustled around, she shared her life, how she loves to go to Las Vegas, and that she would be going in August. With that she made fun of herself for going at the hottest time of the year. 

As the meal ended, she made a point of coming over to tell me how much she had enjoyed me being there. I really did nothing but just acknowledge her work. She even hugged me! So rather than just walk away, I said, "let's take a picture." She loved it :), me too!   
      

If I'm not mistaken, I think I saw an advertisement for Sew Now on Instagram, but I may be wrong. Anyway, what caught my attention was the promotion that they were offering. If you ordered the magazine, you would also receive a free printed pattern of the Simple Sew Cocoon Dress. So, I decided that I would take the plunge and order the magazine. It comes from England, so a bit more of a postage fee, but not bad.



Well, I was pleasantly surprised when the package arrived because there was not just the Cocoon dress pattern, but the Butterick pattern pictured below!!!
   

I was also pleasantly surprised when I thumbed through the magazine as there are a number of free downloads, the Lazy Days Top below.


A super cute pair of harem type pants. 



If you have children home for the summer, this retro kitty would make a great learn to sew project. Also a free download. Cute for an addition to a baby shower gift basket too!



Whether you have a girl or a boy, this little coverall pattern is perfect for summer wear. Cut off the legs and make shorts too!


You'll also find lots of info on new sewing patterns, along with inspiration and interesting tips. The magazine is a larger magazine, so easier to read and handle. The photography is well done, and the pages are nice and thick, not at all flimsy.  

At this point, I am not subscribing, but I will be paying attention to what's offered in upcoming issues.  So, check it out, I think you too might enjoy the magazine.

It's a glorious day here in Chicago. My peonies have burst open, and I have a lilac bush that is so incredibly fragrant this year. My garden is a very happy place to be right now. So I am off to set out some plants, and create a few containers of flowers. Here's a little glimpse of my peonies. I took the picture a few days ago, so they are even more beautiful now.



While talking with a friend, we figured out that this peony is probably about 60 years old. And she's still a beauty :)

Have a wonderful day!
Rhonda



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Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Wednesday Showcase

What a week it has been...so far! My entire day on Tuesday was spent seeing doctors, ugh! But, all good. The stitches are out of my back, YEA!!! 

I had intended to come home yesterday afternoon and get this post out, but obviously, it didn't happen. So although it's no longer Wednesday, I know how much many of you enjoy the Wednesday Showcase posts, so I thought that rather than wait another week, I would just be a day late :)

First up this week is Samina of Sew Everything Blog. She says that she is always sewing! Her work has been featured in Threads magazine, Vogue Patterns magazine, Stitch magazine, and she has even made the cover of Notions, the American Sewing Guild publication. So I agree, she is ALWAYS sewing!!!

Many of you have probably made up this Vogue pattern for pants, Vogue 1411. It's actually a Sandra Betzina pattern.


Well, Samina absolutely loves it and has made it many times. Just scroll through her blog and you'll see a number of versions. I think this is not only a great go to pattern, it's perfect for traveling.


I absolutely fell in love with this little jacket. Samina took a vintage pattern and gave it such a modern look. The topstitching, the lining, the bound edges, simply perfection!


I loved THIS tutorial she did on padded hangers, a true necessity. After all,we spend so much time making fabulous garments, they deserve to be treated in a special manner.


You'll find lots of great information on Samina's blog, so be sure to pop over and take a little time to discover all she shares.

Next up is Julie of Sew Chica Sew. She lives in New York and loves to make and wear beautiful clothes. 

I thought this was just such a sweet look for summer. The matching hat is the perfect accessory!


Julie loves to wear dresses and she uses prints that are just such fun, like this lemon print.


The dress she is wearing below is made from a cotton that she found online at Joann's Fabrics. The print has reproductions of the Mexican card game, Loteria. She paired it with a purchased fascinator, and those killer shoes. Not only does she have an incredibly beautiful wardrobe, her shoe collection is to die for!!!


So many have been making up this beautiful top pattern. Love it paired with this skirt. This is truly a "watch me as I walk away" kind of a top. She took scraps from the skirt and made this cute little cropped top giving the skirt a totally different look.
  

Just a short scroll through Julie's blog and I think you will be so inspired!

Well, I am off to the dentist, not happy :( But, the rest of the day is mine!!!, and it's going to be spent in my studio. So always a silver lining :)

Have a wonderful day!
Rhonda 



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Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Morning Inspiration

Happy Monday!
I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Mine was spent cleaning and clearing out. We had our neighborhood garage sale yesterday. Thankfully, the clouds parted and for the most part, we had a lovely day. 

Nothing I sold was of any great relevance. The only thing that had a little sentimental attachment was an antique iron bed that I purchased when I had my first apartment. I sanded it down, painted it, and enjoyed it for many years. A number of my exchange students also slept in the bed. But, it had been in the basement for a number of years, so it was time to let it go. Maybe even past time. 

I also spent a good bit of time in my closet. More thoughts on that tomorrow :)

Last October, I introduced many of you to Maria Pinto, a Chicago designer. I just love her work, and I've realized why, she too loves geometric shapes. I am hoping to have her on Sewbussted's Material Witness. She is really quite inspiring and I know you would all enjoy hearing more of her story.  

Although spring has not completely arrived here in Chicago, I thought I would take a look at some of her new things for spring/summer.      

She has a brand new line of pieces done in denim, along with matching skinny jeans. The jeans have a center back zipper as well as ankle zippers. You can see more of the pieces HERE.  



This little skirt is nothing more than a rectangle that has been draped around the body and a zipper added at center back. Fun and great for an easy summer skirt.
  

This little dress is just a circle. What a fun little cocktail dress for the summer. A friend of ours will be celebrating a big birthday this summer and I think this will be the perfect piece.  


I love the asymmetrical aspect of this dress.


Another fun little summer skirt that began life as a rectangle.


What a beautiful twist on a racer back. 


Another little rectangle skirt paired with a boat neck top. 


This is a boat neck done to perfection. Most boat neck styles are done so that the front rides up on the neck. Note how this has been drafted. The front has been lowered, and the back raised, so the back comes forward on the armhole. Love this! Makes for a much prettier neckline.


We looked at a number of fun striped pieces last week. I really like the movement of the stripes in this dress.


The last 2 pieces I've included because of the sleeves. In the October post, we looked at another great sleeve which I've included below.
 

The sleeves below are a bit of a twist on a lantern sleeve, but done with pleats. 


I especially like this sleeve.


You can take a look at all of Maria Pinto's garments HERE. If you are ever in Chicago, I would add a trip to her shop on my things to see list. It's downtown, easy to get to, and I know you would love seeing her pieces. She likes to use special fabrics that are manufactured in Italy. They are high-tech, machine washable, and wrinkle resistant, so they travel beautifully. Now if only we can get her to sell some of her fabrics!!!

Have a wonderful day! The sun is shining here, so I can't wait to get out and enjoy a little of the light that's so good for the soul.
Rhonda



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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sewbussted's Material Witness and The Mahogany Stylist

Once I decided to go after my dream of doing video interviews, I quickly realized that there is a wealth of amazing talent right here in Chicago. 

If you don't know The Mahogany Stylist, and even if you do, I think you will enjoy getting to know her beyond the pictures. She's a wonderfully talented woman who loves to share her passion of sewing.


Her style ranges from classic and refined, 

 
To hip and fun!


My goal in doing the video was to give you a dual format, you actually get to experience the essence of who the person is by seeing them speak, but you may also just listen. After I did the interview, I played it back while I was driving home. Don't worry, I didn't watch!!!, I just listened. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed just listening. So, if you have time to watch, great, but if not, just put it on while you are sewing and enjoy the conversation.  

Cennetta has been blogging for quite some time so I thought you would enjoy hearing about her journey, and if you are contemplating a new blog, I also thought her story would be quite inspiring. Enjoy!



Be sure to check out Cennetta's blog, The Mahogany Stylist. I know you'll be inspired by all she does.

A little side note about our flight, it didn't happen. As I was checking the engine prior to take-off, I heard something that concerned me, and I saw that there was a slight negative charge on the amp meter. Since I've experienced an electrical failure in the past, I know the signs and I opted to cancel the flight. Disappointing, but as I told Cennetta, we live to see another day :)



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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thrifty Thursday Ideas

I had such a lovely day yesterday. So many took the time to congratulate me on a great presidency with the American Opera Society of Chicago, and voiced that they were sad to see me step down. Really nice. Good for the soul :) 

Some asked what I would do now. I love the movie Working Girl and I jokingly used a line from the movie, "Oh, I think I'll redecorate the country house, go to Europe for a while ;)" What I'll actually be doing is continuing to talk to all of you through the blog on a regular basis, continue working on the new Sewbussted interview series (BTW, a new one will be up tomorrow!!!), working in my garden, and a couple of other things that I'm just not ready to talk about. 

Change is good as it allows us to take a new direction. One of my projects requires a considerable amount of research and reading, which I'm loving, but it takes time. So, I'm happy to have my mind a little freer in the months to come :).  

Now that warmer weather has finally hit Chicago, I'm wanting some fresh new pieces for spring/summer wear. What I REALLY need are some new pajamas. I received the new issue of Sew News recently and they have a simple, but cute pair in the issue and even better, it's a free download!


The pajamas are intended to be made from a woven fabric. They recommend crepe de chine, but any light weight woven would be fine. I have not made up the pattern yet, so I can't vouch for the drafting or fit, but with something so simple,  especially drawstring pants and an easy tank, I think you'll be safe to give it a try. I've downloaded the pattern, so I should have it made up soon. You can find the FREE PATTERN HERE

This must be a stripe kind of a week for me! Another super cute pattern that is a free download in the current issue of Sew News is this linen striped top.


I really like the front yoke and the interest that is added with the stripes. This pattern could easily be lengthened and made into an easy to wear summer shift dress. 


The instructions in the magazine are quite detailed, so if you've never ventured into the stripe world, you'll be sure to have a successful garment. You can find the FREE PATTERN DOWNLOAD HERE. If you think you would like to have 1 or both of the patterns, be sure to download them now as they will no longer be free after July 31, 2017!

A few days ago, Sewingelle of He Cooks...She Sews posted this sweet picture of she and her daughter on Mother's Day. I think her daughter is one of the luckiest girls in the entire world as her mom makes the most fabulous wardrobe for her.


Sewingelle commented that since the dress is black, it's a little difficult to see the style lines, but she likes it so much that she intends to make another for herself. 

 
Now, here's the good news!!!

The exact same pattern is on the cover of the current issue of Sew News, and..... 


You can get the pattern for 20% off when you enter the code, PocketDress20 at checkout, WOOHOO!!!

You can find the pattern HERE at BurdaStyle. 



This dress was made in a scuba knit, so it gives the dress a different look from the soft stretch velvet that Sewingelle used for her daughter's dress.  

Free patterns and a discount, I think that makes for a pretty good day!

Have a great one!
Rhonda



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