I thought I’d just talk about the costumes I can recall making in my life.  I’m sorry I don’t have pictures, but some of them were from my costume shop days in college, and who knew I’d ever be blogging about them?  (What was a ‘blog’ back then anyway?)  And the rest of the pictures I might have are on a flash drive…somewhere…not where it belongs…  So, here are descriptions of some costumes I’ve made:

17th century French characters (for Moliere’s play “Tartuffe”)

This included good old-fashioned breath-restricting corsets for the 5 gals, calf falsies for the 9 guys (apparently well-developed calves were, um, highly valued by 17th century Frenchmen?), underdresses and overdresses with stomachers, knickers, vests, overcoats, lots of lace and embroidery and jewels and frou-frou everywhere–on the cuffs, the shoes, the hankies, the walking sticks, the wigs–everywhere!

Shakespearean garb

My co-costume mistress and I made pumpkin breeches, tunics, dresses, and a costume for Shakespeare’s only dog character (from “Two Gentlemen of Verona”).  The guy who played the dog wore a union suit with commercial mop heads stitched all over it.  He was one hot dog after each rehearsal and our one performance!  But our professor thought our idea for the costume was very clever.

Wendy Darling (from “Peter Pan”)

This was actually a flower girl dress I made for my daughter for some friends’ wedding, but after the wedding it became her “Wendy dress” (which is actually a nightgown in the Disney movie).

Colonial miss

My daughter was really into dress-up at this stage.  The dress I used began as a bride’s attendant dress my mom wore at her sister’s wedding.  It had a round neck, v-waist, deep ruffle hem, and dolman sleeves.  I converted it once, for a Blue-Gray Ball my husband and I attended before we were married.  Then my daughter started eyeballing it, and I converted it yet again.  It became a square-necked gown with lace bell sleeves, lace-trimmed (mock) bodice, and scalloped ruffle hem.  You’d never know the original and the current dress are one and the same!

Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbes comic strip)

This required only a red t-shirt and a black Sharpie marker…easy peasy.  Boys are so much easier than girls!

Dolly Madison

My daughter and I put this one together with thrift store finds.


See other posts in this blog for more about these colorful costumes.

Peasant for “Aladdin, Jr.”

One of my little Munchkin friends was later in a production of “Aladdin, Jr.” as a peasant, and as part of the treasure in the Cave of Wonders!  That was fun!

Renaissance gal

Apparently, my daughter is still into dress-up.  = )

Female Hobbit

Yep.  A must-have for seeing “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in the theatre.


When “Tangled” is your favorite Disney movie, and you’re going to meet Rapunzel at Disneyland, you simply must have a proper dress for the occasion.  This one was really fun to make!

Have you made any fun costumes?


Today, we will look at bobbins and bobbin holders.  There are a LOT of different kinds of bobbin holders out there–a simple acrylic box with a hinged lid, a box with individual wells for each bobbin, doughnut shapes, magnetic, improvised.  There are also different types of bobbins (plastic and metal), and the kind of holder you use will be determined partly by the type of bobbins you have.

I have mainly this type of bobbin...

...and I also have a few of these plastic ones.


I have mainly metal bobbins, although some plastic ones came with my sewing machine.  I don’t use those unless all my metal ones are full and I need to wind a new bobbin.  The plastic ones don’t seem to spin as easily in the bobbin holder; they ‘catch’ sometimes and cause thread to break and tempers to flare.  OK…to be honest, my temper doesn’t flare until it’s about the fourth or fifth time the thread breaks and there is NO reason for it (that I can see) and I’ve rethreaded the machine about a dozen times and it’s STILL not working and…you get the idea.  Plastic bobbins: last resort.

Each bobbin in its own cozy compartment.

To store my plastic and metal bobbins, I have several of the boxes with the individual compartments.  The boxes are clear acrylic, and the bobbins are stored on their sides, so I can see exactly what colors are in there.  I mainly use this type of keeper for bobbins that are not in constant use–colors of thread that were purchased for a special project, funky colors, duplicate colors, colors for which I inexplicably have no matching spool of thread.  I keep these boxes in the bottom of my sewing basket, easily accessible but not in the way.



Not mine, but the same kind.

For the bobbins I’m currently using, I have a nifty magnetic holder that was my grandma’s.  This one stays by my machine, and it holds black, white, off-white, brown, navy, red, yellow, green, and whatever colors are in my current project(s).  I LOVE this bobbin holder!  It’s trim and tidy, nice to look at, practical, handy, and just a tad sentimental.  This type is also available in a plastic version, but I’m glad Grandma had a wooden one.  It’s lovelier to me.  Alas, if you have only plastic bobbins, this will be of no help to you.


Some other bobbin-keeping ideas I’ve seen don’t require a trip to the notions wall at your local fabric store, but rather the hardware store, plumbing supply, or discount department store (Target, Wal Mart, or even a dollar store).  Flexible tubing (with ribs like a bendy-straw) or clear vinyl tubing may be cut to any desired length then split open to hold bobbins. Little girls’ stretchy terry ponytail holders (the teeny ones) can keep thread from unwinding from its bobbin.  (The greatest drawback to this idea is that you can’t see the thread once the ponytail holder is in place…unless you’re using plastic bobbins.)

Who'da thunk it?


If you need to take a few bobbins along to a class, a retreat, a friend’s house, or any place that isn’t your own sewing space, you can use a toe separator to keep those little spools from unwinding and making a mess in transit.  I love it when someone thinks outside the box, then lets us share in their cleverness!

There are many, many more ideas out there for the storing of bobbins.  Find what works for you, and share it if you like!


It’s been an abysmally long time since I’ve posted anything here on my blog.  Today’s post title is an indication of what I’m planning to do about that.

I saw a challenge for the month of April at Jessy Ferguson’s blog (  She’s a friend from, and she’s a writer.  The challenge is to blog every day of April–except Sundays–with each post being related to a letter of the alphabet.  For a writer, I’m sure this is an especially good exercise.  For a lazy blogger (ahem), I hope it will at least get me into the habit of blogging somewhat more regularly.  I don’t expect to keep up a daily blogging schedule, but when April is finished, perhaps weekly posts won’t seem like such a big deal.

So, for this first day of April, for the letter A, I give you the word “activate!”  May I challenge you to activate something in your own life?  Or reactivate something?  Jumpstart?  Get started?  Spring is the perfect time for new beginnings!

Please check back throughout the month of April to see how I’m doing with this challenge, and to offer encouragement.  I think I’ll need it!  Also, if you have any ideas you’d like me to blog about, let me know!  Some letters are harder than others to connect to a sewing theme.

Fall Back

Daylight Saving Time ends this weekend. If you’re not planning to be awake at 2 am on Sunday, be sure to set your clocks BACK one hour before you go to sleep Saturday night. Enjoy your extra hour!

The Original T-shirt Quilt

I have been busy, really I have!  I just don’t have pictures of what I’ve been working on…yet.

I do, however, have a picture of my very first  t-shirt quilt.  Ta da!

I made this several years ago, perhaps 12 or so?  This picture was taken after a few years of use, though.  You can see wrinkles and evidence of stretching.  When I made this quilt, I didn’t know what I was doing!  I didn’t make the blocks uniform size.  I didn’t even make them all rectangles!  See those hot pink triangles?  Those were set in to make rectangles out of  irregular pentagons!  I didn’t use the right kind of needle to sew on knit fabric.  And I didn’t back the fabric with fusible interfacing.  (Hence, the stretching…and missing stitches…and not very straight lines!)

This poor quilt will need some TLC and a major overhaul someday.  But for now it holds memories of moments in time from two lives–mine and my husband’s.  All the shirts except one are from before we were married.  It was so much fun to combine them into one memory.  Our kids have grown up calling it “the park quilt.”  New memories from old ones.  Love it.


T-shirt Quilt, Part 4: the Sashing


Did you think I fell off the face of the earth?  It’s been a fun week and a half since my last post.  My mom and her sister flew into town for their other sister’s surprise 60th birthday party (organized by the birthday girl’s daughter).  Then my mom stayed in town for a week, so I was having fun with her instead of blogging!  I was sewing, by the way.  My mom has 2 adorable new black-and-white themed shopping bags to show for it!  (And, no, I didn’t remember to take pictures of them.)

Onward and upward…

Now that all the squares are completed, they need to be arranged in an aesthetically pleasing way.  And they need to be attached to each other.  Most (maybe all?) of the quilt tops I’ve pieced up to this point in my life have been very simple.  I’ve just stitched the blocks to each other, with no sashing–strips of fabric between the blocks.  Well, this quilt top screams for sashing, because there is just too much diversity among the t-shirt blocks.  Different colors, multiple fabrics, varied looks.  There’s nothing that ties them together as a whole.  Enter: sashing fabric.

I needed to find that PERFECT fabric that will unify this odd assortment of blocks into a cohesive quilt top.  At the beginning of my search, I didn’t know exactly what it should be, but I did know what it shouldn’t be.  It shouldn’t be a solid color.  There’s not a single color in the known universe that looks good next to every one of my blocks.  I toyed around with the idea of using denim or chambray for the sashing–like a “jeans and t-shirt” theme–but I didn’t like the overall look of it.  Denim might have been too heavy anyway.

I imagined a print of line-drawn t-shirts on a white background, each shirt a different color, appearing to have been filled in by a kid with chunky crayons.  I set out on my search with this image in mind.  If it really existed, I would be ecstatic!  Long story short: it doesn’t.  At least, I didn’t find it.  My daughter was with me on this hunting expedition.  She’s got a good eye for color and pattern and what-goes-with-what.  She pointed out several possibilities as we scanned the bolts, but nothing was clicking with me.  I was just about ready to call off the hunt for that day, and I turned down an aisle that didn’t look too promising.  My daughter probably thought I’d lost my ever-lovin’ mind when I grabbed a bolt of fabric and squealed, “THIS IS IT!”


It’s not t-shirts.  It doesn’t have a white background.  It doesn’t appear to have been colored in by a toddler.  But it’s PERFECT!  I would never have  invented this in my imagination, but I knew when I saw it that it was the right fabric to bring all my blocks together.  (By the way, the print is called Autism Awareness.  I found it at JoAnn’s.)


So here are the 4 rows, assembled with the vertical sashing, in order from the top of the quilt to the bottom.





And here are the rows assembled with the horizontal sashing.

I fully expected to have to “square up” the quilt top once I attached all the sashing.  Believe it or not, the entire top is still square!  I still intend to put borders on it, but I haven’t cut those strips yet.  Stay tuned!

Progressing down the yellow brick road…

I love spring break!  I can get lots of uninterrupted sewing done.  Here are some pictures to prove it.

This is my progress on Miss S’s pieces.  Her vest (Simplicity  8567) was a little less time-consuming than Miss M’s (New Look 6129), so it’s practically done already.  Since I’m using the same green thread for the dresses and for the rainbow striped vest and apron, I did all those garments first.  (That way, I don’t have to keep changing the thread in the machines.)


This is Miss M’s outfit so far.  Both green dresses (Simplicity 2845) still need side seams, hem, and elastic at the neck and sleeves.  This vest and vest lining are waiting to be put together, and the apron is still 4 separate rectangles.


That was how I left things at bedtime Tuesday night.  Today I made some more strides toward the finished products.

First, the two dresses.  The girls will be here Friday to try them on so I can check hem length and the fit of the elastic around the neck and shoulders.  There will also be elastic at the sleeve hem, but I forgot to measure their upper arms for that.  Oops!  My dress form (I call her Beatrice…don’t ask why) has really broad shoulders, so these girls’ dresses look kind of goofy there.  Trust me, the dresses will look better on Miss M and Miss S!

Miss S is the shorter of the two girls, and wanted a little bit longer sleeve.  Miss M is taller and likes a shorter sleeve.












And here are the almost finished outfits…

Miss S…

…and Miss M.


I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.


Guess how I’m spending my spring break.  Sewing, of course, yes.  But what am I sewing?  A friend asked if I would be interested in making costumes for her daughter (I’ll call her Miss M) and another young lady I know (Miss S).  The girls will be in a stage production of The Wizard of Oz.  When I found out they weren’t cast as the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, or the Scarecrow, I agreed.

The costumes required are green dresses for a scene in the Emerald City, and colorful vests and aprons (worn over the dresses) for a Munchkin scene.  The moms of the girls brought me the fabrics to be used and a pattern for the dresses.  I have vest patterns, and the aprons are simple…no pattern required.  I took the girls’ basic measurements–you know, length for dress, length for apron, length of sleeve, waist, etc.

Here are all the pieces of both girls’ dresses, vests, and aprons, cut out and ready to assemble.  (Really bad pictures taken by me.)

The picture above shows Miss M’s ensemble.  I can hardly wait to see her in that sunshiny vest and cheery floral apron!

The picture below is Miss S’s outfit, with vertical stripes on her rainbow vest and horizontal stripes on the apron.  (The green fabric looks more like the real color in this photo, even though it’s blurry.)

Follow the yellow brick road!

T-shirt Quilt, Part 3: the last Squares

Have you picked out a favorite square yet?  Well, there are 6 more to see before you make up your mind!  (All photos by my lovely daughter.)

The first 3 squares in this post had fairly large image areas to work with, so my quilt piecing skills were not as extensive on these.  This first one is just another Snowball-like square.  I did use the handprints that were the same color as the image on my t-shirt, just ’cause.


I just made a frame for this one, and mitered the corners.  The shirt was from an incredible week my family spent with 2 other families.  The horse fabric is from my daughter’s I-love-everthing-about-horses stage.  I made her a skirt by attaching some of this fabric to the top of a pair of jeans that weren’t long enough any more.  She also had a pillow case made from it.  And I believe she cut a few individual horses from it when she was trying her hand at piecing together a doll’s quilt from little squares of fabric.  (We need to find that little quilt.)


I loved working on this one!  The photograph doesn’t look like much, because it was taken inside.  The simple little black outlines of butterflies actually fill with color when exposed to sunlight!  This quilt probably won’t see much sunlight when it’s finished, so this is probably how this square will look most of the time…but you never know.  I still love it!


These last 3 squares took a little more time and creativity.  The original t-shirt images were smaller and therefore needed much more fabric to fill out the 16 square inches.  This first one is the only square for which I had to purchase fabric.  I just had nothing in my stash that would work, color-wise or print-wise.  My daughter has a really good eye for fabric, and she found these two for me.  My husband designed the logo; it’s for our local parent group with the virtual school we belong to.  (You may well ask why I would turn this shirt into a quilt square if the group is still current and I am still involved.  Well…the image was inappropriately placed for a woman’s shirt.  ’Nough said?)  I LOVE how this square turned out!


This is actually the first square I worked on for this quilt.  The t-shirt had front and back images, and I wanted to use them both in the same square.  I figured a 4-patch would be a good treatment for this one.  But why stop there?  Why not make 2 of the four patches into 4-patch blocks themselves?  Here’s how the whole block turned out.


Of course, I saved the best for last.  It’s my favorite anyway.  Again, the logo was designed by my husband for a restoration project you can read all about here:  (And, again, the logo was not quite flattering in its placement on a woman’s shirt.)  I cut the original t-shirt image on point so that the final block would show the image right side up.


So there you have ‘em…all 16 squares.  I think I had a grin on my face for a full 24 hours after the last square was completed!  Stay tuned for sashing, borders, backing, and all that good stuff.


This little project was in the CrossStitcher Organiser Calendar 2010 my mom gave to me.  (Yes, “Organiser” is spelled correctly.  Apparently it’s a British publication, with British holidays and all.) It hung in my kitchen all that year.  I wanted to do the projects, but that meant I would have to take down the calendar whenever I worked on a project.  Knowing myself the way I do, I knew the calendar would never get back to the kitchen if I ever took it down!

I decided to start on the projects in 2011.  I gave myself the goal of completing each project within the month it was featured.

January…cross-stitching part of the project completed.  I still need to track down some white quarter-inch quarter-round trim to complete the rest of the project.

February…entire project completed.  It is now in the guest room at my parents’ house.  Hooray!

March…skipped this one because I could never find the beads required.  Sigh.

April…completed and framed.  Still don’t know who the recipient will be.

May…here we go!  The poppies project.

Having read the supplies lists and followed the directions for a few of these projects already, I skimmed through this one, ready to get started.  I purchased the colors of floss I didn’t already own.  I asked my daughter if I could have some of her “little black beads” when I was ready to put the finishing touches on it.  (She agreed.)  I read “28 count…” in the supplies list.  WHAT?!  28-count?  Are they crazy or something?  (For you cross-stitch rookies, “28-count” indicates that this will be stitched on a fabric that is woven to accommodate 28 stitches PER INCH.)  I typically work on 14- or 18-count, depending on how large or small I’d like the finished product to be.  28-count might kill me!  I did have some 22-count on hand, from my college days, when my eyes were younger.  I could handle that.  Right?

June…I didn’t complete this one within the month.  Oh well.

July…Still not complete, because my 40+-year-old eyes only like to work on it in bright natural daylight.

August…Still going, and feeling like the Energizer bunny…

September…the Little Engine That Could…

October…the Little Engine That Might?

November…I was determined to finish it.  Stitching, beading, and making it into a pillow.  And I did it!



And look at the cute little buttons I had in my stash!  Aren’t they perfect?



Here is a close-up so you can see the details.  The seed beads were bigger than the cross-stitches!  The top-stitching you see on the purple fabric is about a 2.5 on my sewing machine, a fairly small stitch length.


I don’t want to say “never again!” but I can say that I do not foresee any other projects in my future that involve 22-count cloth.  Oh, and by the way, that “28-count” in the supplies list that I skimmed over…  It was actually 28-count evenweave cloth, on which cross-stitches are worked over TWO threads in each direction (vertical and  horizontal).  28 divided by 2…you mean I could’ve worked this on 14-COUNT?!

(Photos by my daughter.  Background is her groovy turquoise corduroy dish chair.)