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The snow started around 2am Sunday morning. By 8am, this was the view from upstairs, overlooking the porch roof:snowmarch291

The road out front was covered with at least 5 or 6 inches of heavy wet snow, unplowed. We left early and drove the truck with the snow blade to church so dh could plow the driveway and I could learn a new song I wanted to lead in the morning service.

This morning at least half of that snow has melted! That’s the amazing thing about spring snows! But the combo of near-freezing temps and lots of moisture sure make it miserable outside while it’s coming down; this storm had some added drama: lots of wind and thunder snow!


I finally learned to use the scanner that’s hooked up to my dh’s computer…and figured out how to share the files on our network to simplify getting them to my computer! I need and want to continually learn things, but somehow can’t learn them faster than a certain rate! Maybe it’s a matter of ‘you learn it when you need it’.

Today I’m sharing scans of the dishcloths my MIL sent home with her son this week. They are so cheerful and colorful!

About 8 years ago my MIL had a stroke that meant she had to relearn how to use the left side of her body. While in the hospital doing intensive physical therapy she started crocheting scrubbies. The nursing staff noticed and started buying them from her as fast as she could produce them! Once home from the hospital, however, her sales outlet was gone, so I offered to put them on my website for her.

Literally thousands of scrubbies later, she has decided to add cotton dishcloths to her offerings. She loves using the cotton yarn, as it is much easier on her hands than the nylon netting.

We’re introducing them to you at a reduced price on the website, because she’s making them faster than our family can wear them out washing dishes! Some of us have picked colors that match our bathrooms and use them for face washing cloths. Others stubbornly call them dish rags, although ‘rag’ doesn’t really seem appropriate for something so pretty!

If you have a preference in color/style, be sure to mention the names under the photos of the cotton dish cloths above when you are checking out! If you are using a blog reader you may have to click through to be able to see the captions. Or just mention the photo file name, if you prefer.

And even if you’re not in the market for some right now, we’d love feedback on colors you’d like to see, both for the dishcloths and for scrubbies. Click comment below…

The challis has a prominent design that is printed off-grain (about 3 inches across the 59″ fabric.) I decided to follow the printed pattern rather than the true grainline hoping that the natural drape of this rayon woven challis fabric will cover the sin of off-grain cutting. Clearly it would look very bad to have the design sliding at an angle off the bottom of the skirt hem! Time will tell if I made the right decision.

The next step in making this green rayon challis skirt is to cut the front panel and the pocket bags and to get my serger set up on a table and remind myself how to use it! Oh, and change out the pink thread that’s on it for a medium gray or whatever will look best; I haven’t even looked at my serger thread stash for several years.

I plan to cut the front panel 30″ wide. I may decide to add a back center seam to the back panel, which is currently cut to finish about 58″.

OR I could cut the pocket bags onto the skirt panels…but then I’d need to make the two panels a lot closer to the same size! Hmmm. Decisions. Decisions.

Last fall my mother was wearing a skirt that she said I’d made her many years ago. It was a wool challis border print for which she’d found a new updated top. She suggested that it would be ‘fine’ if I’d like to make her more similar skirts….

So, in January when Michelle** offered two skirt lengths of a green rayon challis foulard print, I jumped at the chance! (Mom has green eyes!)

Green Rayon Challis

Green Rayon Challis

Mom, who will be 80 this fall, measured the old skirt and sent an email with the info:

  • 30″ long (plus waistband) – 2 to 4 inches longer would be better
    1.2″ waistband (serged) with elastic inside
    Pockets inside both side seams
    Bottom width: 58″
    Width of skirt 6″ below waist: 52″
    Hem: 4″
  • I also got her current waist and hip measurements and calculated that I’d need to cut the skirt 39″ long x the width of the fabric (59″). I cut the waistband 44″ x 3″, which is probably longer than necessary. I must have added some long, ‘freehand’ darts at the waistband to reduce the fabric bulk between the waist and lower hip. I really don’t remember sewing the wool challis skirt, so I know it was a quick ‘n’ dirty project, no doubt all serged.

    Initially I figured I’d have to add a side seam if I wanted to make the big pocket bags that I usually put into challis skirt side seams. Or maybe I could just stick with one pocket and one side seam; but with only one seam, I’d prefer to put that seam in the center back.

    My experience with rayon challis (compared to the sturdier wool challis) is that it might be better to make the skirt a little fuller than the original 58 inches and to cut separate pieces for the front and back. In that case, the pockets would be easy to install. I’ll probably move the side seams slightly to the front so the pockets bags will be at her hip bones and thus less bulky.

    I’ll tell you more in my next skirt-making post.

    **For the last two months Michelle has been hosting several regional PatternReview gals at her home for a Sewing-Saturday. It’s been SO much fun to set aside the time to share and help each other with various sewing projects.


    One last photo from the concert flowers. These look almost like yellow butterflies! In the background are the empty risers after the concert.

    When preparing for making these flowers I did a little research as I had never looked closely at how forsythia actually grow. I went out into the yard and took a look at how the bush was structured; each branch extended from the ground, rather than a ‘tree’ shape. I cut a couple branches and noticed that the buds for the flowers and leaves were in twos, opposite each other on the branches. At that point I wasn’t sure which buds were flowers and which were leaves…but I did note that there were at least three at the tip of each branch.

    In Google image search I found lots of photos that helped: both closeup and distant photos. Wikipedia had a nice description of how the flower petals were shaped and attached. Since I wasn’t going for total accuracy, but planned to make GIANT forsythia, I proceeded to test a few blossoms on an empty branch that I’d stuck into the water fountain we have on the kitchen table this winter. This gave me plenty of meal time to think through the sizes and shapes and ways to attach the flowers. –grin–

    The first few blossoms took quite a while to make. I carefully cut curved edges and covered the green wires with brown florist tape to match the wood. That ended quickly when I realized how many of them I’d need. I soon developed a way to cut ripstop multiples with just a few slashes of my scissors! And a way to put the layers together to simply the next step so I could eventually make each flower in less than 15 seconds. (And that’s ME doing it, a person who tends to be slower than average with physical tasks like this.) The main thing I learned was to never work more than 30 minutes at a time on this or I’d end up with painful wrists/hands. Cold packs helped when I’d overdo things, and I treated myself to some candied ginger at bedtime to help reduce the inflammation a little.

    In any case, the project was fun to develop and luckily had to be done in a fairly short time so I wasn’t tempted to turn it into a huge ‘perfect’ production. I’m glad I had the opportunity to give my sister-in-law a hand when she needed it!

    Last week I showed you the spring flowers I was concocting from scraps of nylon ripstop (some of it dyed with acid dyes.) There are NO real flowers blooming yet in our neck of the woods, although I’d expect the earliest ones to show in the next week or two, since it’s been warm and sunny the past few days.

    Last night was the spring choral concert at the high school, so Sunday night DH and I hauled the 40 branches I had salvaged from last week’s crabapple pruning, the bags of wired yellow blossoms and the rolls of black mesh with the ‘redbud’ filler over to the auditorium. He helped wire forsythia blooms to the branches and figure out a way to wedge the branches into place with the help of some wood scraps and a cement block. My BIL and SIL worked out the best arrangement for the black curtains and hung the redbud mesh.

    I had forgotten my camera, so my only chance to take photos was Monday night after the show. Here’s a photo of most of the stage.
    full I evidently didn’t have my camera settings right to focus on such a long distance, but you can see the general layout. On the left you can see one of the forsythia plants. The one on the right is out of the camera’s view (see it below.) In the background to either side of the pink center you can just barely see the redbud. In ‘real life’ they showed up a lot more, but were still definitely background. One person told me she thought they might be clouds at sunset….

    Late Sunday night we decided to make a spray of flowers for the top of the piano. I spent a little extra time covering those wires with brown florist tape to keep from scratching the grand piano! In this photo you can also see the right side forsythia (post concert.)

    After the show we moved the forsythia out to the entry way of the theater to decorate for the spring musical this weekend. Double duty is always a good thing when a lot of woman hours have gone into preparation! lol

    Would anyone like a tutorial on making forsythia blossoms with fabric and wire?

    I’ve volunteered to fill in to do a few stage decorations for the high school spring choral concert next Monday. We could just buy some flowers and stick them in vases along the front of the stage.

    Or we could use the bags of ripstop scraps that we found in the closet and make some spring flowers.

    Here are some test flowers to see where this is all going…

    "Redbud" on the black mesh
    Close-up to show how ripstop is attached

    Close-up to show how ripstop is attached

    Yellow ripstop attached to sticks from crab apple pruning

    Yellow ripstop attached to sticks from crab apple pruning

    Forsythia blossoms ready to wire to branches

    Forsythia blossoms ready to wire to branches

    The bright pink cut strips are the original color; I dunked the fabric into a red dye mixed with sapphire blue to get the color I remember from the redbud along the Illinois river bluffs here in the springtime.

    Anyhow, back to making yellow flowers… I think I need about 600…

    Kwik-Sew’s Sewing For Baby is a great resource! The book has multi-sized patterns and instructions for sewing and serging baby things. Also included are many ideas for adapting or updating the patterns.

    I made this sleep sack for my grandson by using the sleeper pattern and extending the bottom to a bag shape rather than fitted legs.
    The main body of the sleeper is a cotton flannel and the cuffs and neckband are a cotton lycra jersey.

    The zipper is a lightweight flexible nylon. My original plan was to add a zipper across the bottom so diaper changes at night would be easier, but I can’t remember whether or not I included it! Talk about memory problems…

    In any case, it looks as though it won’t fit much longer…

    My sister cut these square denim blocks a few years ago, in 2003, I think. We did a rag quilt style pillow for our father (who loves walleye fishing in Ontario).

    pillow back

    As you can see the pillow includes some olive green denim and a ‘fisherman’ type block salvaged from an old sweatshirt that once belonged to one of his grandsons.

    pillow front

    We were on a real denim kick! One day soon I’ll show you the denim ‘picnic’ quilt that inspired all this…


    My sister cut all these circles from old jeans. We started with a small plate to cut around with the rotary cutter. Skinned knuckles are a hazard of this method. We switched to drawing around the template and cutting with a scissors. It’s a more portable project that can be done while watching a soccer practice or game…

    denim quilt

    After washing:

    denim quilt washed


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    In honor of my late father-in-law