Saturday, November 30, 2013

Pilgrims–Mothers and Daughters


About 3 or 4 years ago, my sisters and I decided to make pilgrim dresses for our girls to wear on Thanksgiving Day.  We had talked about it for a couple of years, but then Thanksgiving would arrive and what with all the baking and food prep and hustle and bustle, we would run out of time to make them.  But finally, we got bees in our bonnets, and churned out 13 pilgrim girl dresses.  Most of them were done the week before Thanksgiving.  Smile

They were adorable!



The next year, we made them for ourselves.



And so of course, we wear them every year now. 



Although we moms continue to wear the same dresses each year (except for my sister due to have a baby this January!) those silly girls keep outgrowing theirs.  But because we have a lot of daughters, we have been able to pass the dresses on down to the next girl, or even make just one or two new ones. 

But this year, I had four daughters who needed Pilgrim dresses.

If you sew, you already know that fabric isn’t inexpensive.  Faced with the thought of 3 more birthdays before Christmas, and then Christmas gifts for the kids, plus the other usual medical and household expenses, I wasn’t sure I could pull off the cost for so much material.  And these dresses, cute as they are, do take quite a lot of material for the long, full skirts.

But the girls continued to remind me, gently, that they really wanted (and needed) the dresses for Thanksgiving. Smile

They’re hard to resist.


Finally, one day a couple of weeks ago, I dragged out my bins of extra fabric and sheets, etc.  When sheets or tablecloths get threadbare, we replace them with new ones, but I just can’t bring myself to get rid of the old ones.  I never know whether they may come in handy for a smaller project, as they have many times in the past.  But I knew I probably didn’t have enough large pieces for the big girls’ skirts. 

And then I spotted the old sofa slipcovers.  I had considered giving them away when I made the new ones, but then changed my mind. 




I wasn’t sure there was enough material for four dresses, but hoped I could get a couple of them at least.


So Kate and I laid the slipcovers out on the floor and cut them at the seams.  Of course we saved the long strips of elastic for future projects.  In fact, I think Kate already has her eye on some of it.

We spent an entire Saturday cutting out pattern pieces for four dresses, and in the end, we had to use some drop cloth for the front skirt pieces of Alix and Kate’s dresses.  But they looked a little like apron inserts, so we were satisfied.




With three of us sewing, we were able to make the dresses fairly quickly. 






Afterwards, I used RIT to dye them all.  The instructions for dying are on the RIT website, and it was pretty quick and easy to follow them.  I have dyed clothing before, but never in our front loader, so I made sure to follow the directions closely.


And here they are!



Never underestimate the value of old fabric! Winking smile



I hope your Thanksgiving Day was a day of feasting and fun,

and especially, of giving thanks.




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Work in the Mudroom


We’ve been working on our mudroom coat closet.

It’s so exciting!

Since there are still many projects left to do at Kenilworth, we have to prioritize them one at a time.  Cold weather has come, and we’ve had to drag out coats for everyone, so the coat closet seemed the most practical thing to do next.


Here’s what we’ve had in the room up to this point.  Notice the only place for coats is to hang them from “s” hooks off of any spare space we could find on an old wire shelving rack.




And of course you are probably thinking there is no way that wire shelving rack could possibly accommodate coats for 9 people.

And you are right!


In addition, to the coat conundrum, we have had a seriously sad shortage of shoe storage...


And of course you can see the large colorful fabric bin holder, which we used to have in the garage at the old house.  (If only I had chosen cubbies that were more neutral, or all the same color.) Since it contains all the winter hats, scarves, and mittens, it really had to be in a convenient place.  So we laid it sideways on the shelving rack.


It’s been a little hard on my eyes to walk through here and see it all for over a year now.  So I’ve been eagerly hoping we could save enough to start this project.  At last, we have. Smile


Although it’s not finished yet, I thought you would enjoy seeing our progress so far.



First, Glenn and Luke screwed two large wood panels into the wall, and along each perpendicular side of the closet.





Next, they laid out each of the vertical boards on the floor and glued and stapled them together where they lay….





Then they raised the whole section, which is the face of the closet, to meet the back and side panels.





And finally, a “floor” was built for the lowest shoe shelf.




We couldn’t take the closet all the way to the right side of the wall due to the sidelight which surrounds the door, and the return for the curtain panels, so we left a narrow space.  This works out to be a great spot in which to store our small stepladder, and possibly another taller wooden ladder which we could pull out to access the attic space. 

(Honey, I’m not sure I told you about my great idea for a tall wooden ladder yet, but….  I have a great idea!)




We’ve been able to make more progress since these were taken, so I’ll get those up soon!


Have a great day!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Enjoying the Changes


Fall is heavy upon us here in Indiana.




The kids have been thoroughly enjoying the benefits of a backyard full of huge old trees, with piles and piles of leaves to play in.




There have been outdoor homes made, where “rooms” of grass have been raked bare of the dry leaves and “hallways” were drawn in between the spaces to connect them.




Of course the kids have made leaf piles.

Piles and piles of them.




So there’s been a lot of jumping and running, and dry leaves in curly hair.




And swinging in Alix’s birthday hammock.






And a birthday bonfire.




And soon there will be the feasting of Thanksgiving, and the fun of wearing pilgrim dresses,




and then, the wonder and joy of celebrating a Miraculous Birth.



But let’s not hurry things along too much just yet!

Let’s be thankful and enjoy the changes God brings to our lives.



One at a time.



Monday, November 11, 2013

Sofa Slipcovers–Part 2


A little while ago, I did a post on making a sofa slipcover.  I showed you how to start one and how to measure for the various pieces.  But I thought it might be helpful to see some of the details for the more challenging pieces of the slipcover. 



For the arm fronts, measure at the widest points for length and width.  Can you see then, that the widest part of the arm front is right in the middle of the curved part, and the length is from the midpoint of the top edge of the front, down to the point where you want to sew this piece to the skirt.  I usually measure an extra couple of inches in both directions, to give myself a little wiggle room with the seams.  It’s better to have a little extra to cut away, then not enough to make a seam.



Once you have that rectangular piece cut, you pin it to the pieces surrounding it – there is one that drapes over the arm rest and one that is just under the arm rest on the outside.



I trace over the pins with a pencil to mark out my seam line so I know where to stitch the pieces together.


In addition to these arm front pieces, the skirt can also be a little tricky.  First you need to decide what you want the finished skirt to look like.  You have many options!  Ruffled, pleated, short, long, etc.  For our sofas, I wanted a skirt that went to the floor and had pleats at the corners and one in the center.

Measure the distance from the floor to the point where you want it to slide underneath the seat cushions.  Don’t forget to add your hem allowance for the bottom edge.



The other measurement you need for the skirt is the distance around the bottom of the sofa.  You can do this a few different ways.  You can measure the distance from the back side to the front side, and cut 2. One for each side of your sofa.  Repeat that method for the front and back sides. 

Or you can also measure the perimeter of your sofa skirt – starting at one corner and measuring all the way around the sofa.  This is what I did.  After determining that measurement, I needed to add extra for my pleats.  I wanted a pleat at each corner and one in the center.  I decided to make my pleats 8 inches in width. This is a standard width for a pleat because it makes a nice flare for the finished look. To do this, I doubled the amount of inches of fabric I would need to include per pleat– 16 inches were needed for each pleat. 

If that sounds confusing, look at this picture of the pleat.  You can see I am folding over the top of it, which shows the layers of the pleat.  It’s 8 inches wide on the wrong side, and then has 2 front flaps, each one 4 inches wide, which come together into a crease at the top of the pleat.  But when the skirt is finished, you won’t see the flaps or their curved edges, they’ll be hidden behind the front of the skirt.


Remember also that you are making the slipcover inside out.

Because I didn’t want any seams on the outside of skirt, and the fabric isn’t long enough to make one long skirt plus pleats without any seams, I hid my seams inside the pleats.  And of course, this means you have to cut a little extra fabric to allow for stitching those seams together.  So since I needed to add 16 inches per pleat to the total length of the skirt,  I also had to add about 2 inches to the sections where I would be hiding a seam allowance in the pleat.

Here is what the pleated skirt looks like when it is pinned to the rest of the slipcover, at the corner



and at the center of the sofa front.



To keep the pleat nice and tight at the top (so it makes an inverted V flap) I stitched across the top of it back and forth a few times to hold the crease.  Otherwise it would just pull apart and not look like a pleat anymore.  See where the middle yellow pin and middle white pin are in the picture above?  That is where I stitched.  You’re looking at the underside of the skirt.  If you turn the skirt over, you would see the finished side of the skirt, and the pleat would have 2 sides butted up together in a crease, which then open out into a flap as it falls to the floor.  You won’t see this when the cushions are on the sofa – I stitched it far up on the skirt pleat so that it would be underneath.



So when the cushions are in place, it looks like this



It’s easier to stitch the tops of those pleats, including the corner ones, before you pin the skirt to the rest of the slipcover.  That way, the pleats won’t separate when you stitch the skirt seam. 

Here is how the front corner pleat looks – lined up with the vertical seam along the arm front piece.


See, mine isn’t perfect, the pleat pulled apart a little at the top, but I don’t mind.  It’s a small enough gap that no one will notice.  And even if they did, I’m ok with that.  Smile


I didn’t mention anything about stitching the hem.  Since I used drop cloth, I made sure that when I cut the skirt pieces, the finished edge of the drop cloth was on the bottom.  So it became the hem and I didn’t have to stitch one.  But if you can’t do this all the way around, just remember to take care of your hem.  Finish it before you attach the skirt to the rest of the slipcover, or afterwards.  It’s simply a matter of preference.

Here are a couple of different views of the final slipcover.







I apologize if any of this is muddy.  It’s a lot harder to explain something like this than to just show you in person.  But if you are trying to make a slipcover, you most likely already have some sewing experience.  You don’t need to be an expert seamstress to do a slipcover.  You just need to take careful measurements and take your time pinning the pieces together. 

You can do it!

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Sweet 16 Year Old


Alix is our oldest and much loved daughter. 

On Monday she turned 16! 


The opening line from a favorite book by Elizabeth Prentiss says, “Oh, how old I am getting to be! 16 today!” 




Although Alix hasn’t given any indication that she feels especially old, I myself am wondering how she went from my little girl to my dear friend so quickly. 


She has always been my helper, especially where her siblings are concerned.  She is loving and sweet with little ones, which means they are drawn to her.  She has a gift for knowing what will please them and make them happy.




She has never been a demanding person, even when she was little.  When she needs something, she quietly finds a way to obtain it, or she finds contentment without it. 




She has left me so many sweet love letters over the years, telling me of her love for me, that they make quite a presence in the keepsakes file I have for her.




She loves animals and they know it.  God has given her gentleness and patience with them. 




But it is her love for others which blesses me most to see.




As I watch God shaping her character and growing her into a lovely, godly, young woman,




my heart overflows with gratitude for this rare and beautiful treasure!