Broken Sewing Machine = Clean House

Have you ever seen the little sign that says:  “A clean house is the sign of a broken sewing machine”?  Well, my sweet little “Elizabeth” is in the shop getting a tune-up.  However, lest you jump to any conclusions, my house is not clean.  Nor will it be any time before she comes home.  But it does mean I actually have a little time to write today!  Please ignore the fact that my last post was months ago.  You’re a dear.  Bless your little pointed head.

So, a quickie synopsis of what’s been going on here at Imagine It’s Finished.

We did move and are now living in the same house as my parents.  (You may recall that Mom has Alzheimer’s.)  I repainted the entire inside prior to moving.  There are still about a gazillion, um, six-hundred, er, maybe one hundred boxes in the garage yet to be unpacked.  We’ve had a yard sale that didn’t get rid of enough stuff or make enough money.  Still debating on whether we will ever have enough energy to put on another one.   One thing I’ve learned.  I really hate moving.  Maybe it’s because I can’t just put things wherever suits me.  Maybe it’s because most of my belongings were packed over 6 years ago and some of what I thought was important then baffles me now.  In any case, we are progressing and getting settled little by little.

Storm, July 2013Do you like the picture at the top?  That’s the view from our front porch, looking north.  The hills to the right are where Williams is.  I don’t know how far that is as the crow flies, but it takes us about 45 minutes to get there.  On a clear day, which we have an overabundance of, looking further east (right), you could see the top of Mount Humphreys–which is Flagstaff.   Right now we are in the Monsoons.  Supposedly we should be getting a lot of rain.  Clouds and lightening, yes.  Rain, no.  It just goes all around us.  This picture is from a couple of weeks ago, looking southwest.  But it does cool everything down a little and we sure appreciate that.

In April, we all drove to Denver so Mom could visit her sister.  About 4 hours after we arrived, Dad was in the hospital.  Where he remained for the next eight days.  He had gall Dscn6379stones and ended up having surgery.  Our house-sitter needed to get back to her own home and Mr. C had to get back to work, so he flew home, leaving me alone to care for Mom and Dad.  We stayed with my uncle, who wasn’t much help.  So, my entire vacation was driving between Uncle’s, the VA hospital and Auntie in the nursing home.  I have to say, if it weren’t for my cousin, I wouldn’t have survived.  She was awesome!  We took Dad right from his hospital bed to the car and headed home.  That was the most dramatic health issue we’ve had, but not the only one, by any means.  I don’t want to jinx it, so you won’t hear me say that thankfully things have sort of quieted down lately.  Shhh!

Because of all the health issues, we did not get a garden planted this year.  But I did manage to sneak 12 new chicks into the garage when Mr. C wasn’t looking.  They are just now starting to lay eggs.  Sadly, two of the newbies are roosters.  I already have a rooster. Me and the girls have no use for three roosters.  My Dad asked me how you know a pullet from a hen?  He said, “when she loses her first foot-race”….if you know what I mean.  One of the new roosters about ran one of the hens ragged the other day.  I was cheering her on.  He finally got tired and gave up.  If we could somehow teach all teenage girls the same maneuvers!


From a couple of months ago.


Dixie and Jager were a big help.

I do have a nice sewing room now.  I have filled it up and tried to organize it, and clean it at least three times.  Last month I got a little angry about having all that fun stuff, but not being able to get to it and play with it.  So I spent the better part of a week cleaning.  Hung pictures and shelves and put up the TV.  I’m much happier now.  I have managed to finish a couple of projects.  I can hardly believe it!  I don’t have pictures of some of it.  I got to my pile of mending.  I had a large bag of vintage linens that needed ironing….done!  I made a stack of Microwave Bowl Covers…probably should take a picture of those.  Really cool.

Sewing  Cards by Valori Wells Designs

Sewing Cards by Valori Wells Designs

And prior to our local quilt store Shop Hop, I made several Cell Phone Wallets.  I got the pattern at the last quilt show.  It seemed like the perfect thing to use when I didn’t want to carry my rather large purse.  I’ve made several things from this company.  Anyway, I made one with leftover 30’s fabrics and one with some sweet florals.  But for the Shop Hop I wanted to take my “Civil War” tote bag made for a trip to Pennsylvania a few years ago.  So, it was rather important to make a Cell Phone Wallet to match.  The only problem was, I had pretty much used all my fabric to make the tote (which was an afterthought when several other items had been made).  I did a little digging in my stash and found something that would coordinate well enough.  I think it turned out nice.

Well, I guess that’s enough for now.  I’m hoping to get back to posting on this blog more regular-like now that it feels like my life is sort of more normal.

Happy Sewing!

Mrs. C

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I’m back!

Okay.  Here I am.  Geez.  I haven’t posted since May?  I can explain!  It all started when Mom and Dad showed up.  Okay, maybe it isn’t ALL their fault.  I can spread the blame around.  You’ll see.

The truth is, in May my parents did come to stay.  My dear Mom and Dad are unique.  Different.  Odd. er, unique.  Oh, I said that.   Way back in 1989 they sold their house.  MY childhood home.  Sold or gave away all their stuff.  And left town.  In a truck.  Pulling a 5th-wheel.   And they never looked back.  I moved to Arizona in 1990 and over the years they have visited us many times.  Once they stayed with us for a month while I recovered from major surgery.  We had a nice driveway to park their rig so they could stay in their own home which was comfortable for them and made it easy for us.  Sometimes they would spend the summer working someplace nice, like Colorado.  Then we would take trips to visit them.   We’ve had Thanksgiving with them a time or two sharing potluck in the RV park clubhouse along with all the other full-time RVers.  Before we got them a cell phone, relatives would call up and ask, “Do you know where your parents are?”  Sometimes we could tell them.  Sometimes all we knew was where they were two weeks ago.  It’s been a very interesting 23 years.

Mom and Dad

Several years ago Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.   It’s been a slow progression of the disease.  But the last few years it feels like it’s speeded up.  (I know sped is the right word, but speeded is more like how it feels.)  Mr. Clark and I have wanted them to move closer to us and stay put.  Thus, when we moved from The Big City to a rural town, we found a place with enough room for them to park and stay for extended periods of time.   Which they have done over the last four years.  This time they’ve been here since May.  I want very much to be able to help Dad take care of Mom and do what I can as often as I can.   And I’m trying very hard not to take what Mom says personally.  But it’s not easy.  She remembers the fun and adventure of traveling the country and wants to return to that.  Every day.  In her mind, I am influencing Dad and tricking him in staying here.  Therefore, I am currently enemy number one.  I miss my Mom.  I don’t know this lady who looks like her.   That, along with Dad’s health issues, I’ve got more than I can pray over most of the time.

On a much happier note.  Well, it’s a little sad at first.  But it gets better.   In March our sweet dog, Toby, died.  I came home from work one afternoon and he was curled up outside like he was asleep.   But he wasn’t.  He was a big, goofy, Gordon Setter.   We got him as an older dog and so only had him a few years.  I was really, really sad.  And still was a month later sitting around at lunch with some friends talking about our dogs.  When our friend said, “I have just the puppy for you!”  It was Easter Sunday.  I asked him if we could come see it that afternoon.  Mr. Clark said, “See it?!?  What are you talking about ‘see’ it?  You mean, can we come by and get it!”

Our first day with Dixie

All we knew was that it was a female Australian Shepherd.  And Mr. Clark was right.  She rode home in my lap.  It took me a little while to find her a name.  Her name is Dixie.  It’s been a very long time since we’d had a puppy in the house.  (And all the puppies we’ve ever had were the total and sole responsibility of the daughter it belonged to.)  Somehow we figured it out.  Isn’t she just too cute?

I am in the Daughters of the American Revolution.  Also called the DAR.  I am also a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  The UDC.  And in May my UDC chapter voted me to be their President for the next two years.  Since I love the Civil War and study it as much as possible, I guess they thought I’d make a good president.  I agreed because the outgoing president said it really didn’t take much work and it was easy.  All I can say about that is:  She lied.

And I got more chickens.  Now I have 14.  One of them was hatched from our own eggs this summer and we’re afraid it’s a rooster.  We’ve been caring for my grand-doggie, Jager (a very cute miniature long-haired dachshund) since August.  And as of three weeks ago, our darling daughter #2 and hubby moved in with us.  They’ll only be here a few months.  But our house is only 840 square feet.

Then on top of all that we are hoping to move next month!  But that’s a story for next time.  Right now I want to go take a nap.  And then I’ve got to get my stuff together because I’m going to a Corset-making Workshop this weekend!
Happy Sewing!

Mrs. Clark

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Here at Imagine It’s Finished, sewing projects aren’t the only thing we have trouble with.  This is a sad, unavoidable truth.  Though most things in my life can be avoided, the truth isn’t one of them.

Here’s the story.  Sunday I was sitting in church and having a terrible time following the sermon.  Our pastor was skipping all over the Bible.  Reading verses everywhere.  I was having a terrible time keeping up and got more than a little confused.  I have no idea who is at fault here, me or the pastor.  The fact that Mr. C fell asleep and dropped his Bible on the floor might be an additional clue.

So when I am having trouble following along, I do what comes naturally.  My mind wanders.  The sermon wasn’t the only thing that was meandering that morning.  I was thinking about the great finds we got yardsale-ing on Saturday.   About the field trip on Monday with my quilting friends.  About what we were going to have for lunch.  And then I thought about the Kay Arthur Bible study I started back in February, but quit after only a few classes.  Ouch!  I didn’t really want to think about that.  But for some reason, I decided that instead of berating myself for yet another failure, I should sort of analyze it.  So, with nothing else demanding my attention, I did just that.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but I am rather ADD.  Lest you get it confused with ADHD, let me explain.  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder means you can’t pay attention and you can’t sit still either.  However, with just plain Attention Deficit Disorder, your body can sit very nicely, but your mind has left the building. [Granted, this explanation is extremely over-simplified, but works well for my story.]  The reason I know so much about this is because Precious Daughter #2 is intensely, exceptionally, excessively ADHD.  I know first hand the joys and heartbreak that comes with parenting such a child.  However, for the purpose of this story, I’ll just mention one aspect.  Learning.  When Precious Daughter #2 finished 4th grade, Mr. C and I decided we were done with public education.  So, we took on the colossal task of educating her ourselves.  It was the most wonderful thing we’ve ever done, but more on that another day.  Actually, the task of education fell on my shoulders.   The first year was really hard.  One reason for that is we started out in math using the same curriculum the school used.  When, after about 6 weeks, that didn’t seem to be working.  So, we just went back to the beginning of the book and started all over.  After only a few days, I discovered the problem.  She didn’t really know addition.  Oh, she could figure out 7+2 was 9, but only after counting on her fingers.  Here I was trying to teach multiplication to my 5th grader who was adding and subtracting with the aid of her fingers.  That’s when the light went on over my head.  This is a very smart child.  She had managed to make it through the fourth grade without anyone knowing she just didn’t “get” math.  The problem wasn’t her ability.  The problem was that no one had taught her in the way she could learn.  I am so grateful God taught me this lesson early on because it saved us a lot of frustration.  Teaching a child in the way they can learn is actually not very difficult.  It’s not really anything special.  But the benefits are amazing.

So, there I was sitting in church thinking about another Kay Arthur Bible study that I have “failed”.  Why is that?  She is a wonderful teacher.  I’ve heard her speak and I could sit for hours and listen to her.  Everyone says her Bible studies are fantastic.  And they are.  I’ve started 4 0r 5 or 6 of them.  They are deep and enlightening.  And I can never get past a few chapters.   Why is that?  That’s when the good Lord spoke to me.  (You see where I’m going here, don’t you?)  Kay Arthur’s style of Bible study works really well for her.  And it works really well for a lot of people.  But it doesn’t work well for me.  I need to be taught in a way I can learn.  Kay Arthur’s method just doesn’t.  That doesn’t make it a bad study method.  And it sure doesn’t make me a bad person.   Even if I’m the only one I know who can’t seem to do it.  Maybe you can understand what a relief this is!

I don’t really know where else this is taking me.   Life is a journey.  And as my first quilt teacher taught me:  THE JOY IS IN THE JOURNEY.

Have a blessed day!

Mrs. Clark

Oh, and I’m thinking, now that it’s spring, I should change the picture at the top of my page.  Maybe next week.

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Procrastination Central

Have you ever noticed that once you set some project aside, it somehow becomes easy (convenient even) to keep setting it aside?  Putting IT at the bottom of the list….and keeping IT there.  Once I start avoiding some project/job/chore/hmmm, it seems to turn into some big, ugly monster that I just don’t see how I will ever be able to finish.  So, I do what I’m sure you never do, and continue to ignore IT.  I am almost ashamed to admit that there is precious little I cannot put on the back burner.  Exercise.  Dusting.  Planting the garden.   Washing the dishes.  Oh, I think about IT and tell myself that I’ll get to IT soon.  Right after I sit and rest a minute do this other (suddenly more important) thing.

At least that’s the reason I’m using to explain why I’ve waited until now to write this.  My last blog entry was sometime in February.  I could look up the exact day, but it’s not that important to me right now.  It all started with that nine-day trip to Pennsylvania.  One thing after another, and well lookie here, it’s the last day of April!  Now, part of the reason it has taken me so long to get back into the blog thing is that I took over 1200 pictures while in the Keystone State.  So far I’ve downloaded them all in the computer, but only processed the first day’s worth.  That’s another project I keep pushing to the side.  And I don’t want to think about doing it right now or my head may explode.  I rather doubt you want to see all 1836 pictures.  At least not today.  I know I said I took over 1200, but my friends took a few too and they gave me all their pictures.  So all together there are one thousand, eight hundred, thirty six.  Of which I will show you just a few:

First day in Pennsylvania

Despite not getting enough sleep, we hit the ground running our first day.  Of course, I went with two dear friends that, as the week progressed, I seriously began to wonder about.  May need to think about my choice in friends.  They seemed to enjoy taking pictures of me sleeping….when they weren’t laughing at me.   We first stopped at Miz Marion’s favorite dairy and got some yummy treats.  Petted the baby cows.  Took a cheesy picture or two.  Then we headed to Red Lion for the highlight of the entire trip: a private tour of the Family Heir-loom Weavers.  Our $5 donation entitled us to a 45-minute tour.  They pretty much kicked us out after 2 1/2 hours.  It was so incredible to see how they make fabric.  They make coverlets just like the ones from the 1800s!  (But, sadly, they will not backdate one.)   And you can see by the load in my arms that I had a little “accident” in their store.  That’s all I’ve got for this time.  I hope to say more about the trip.  It was fabulous!

And then I was home a total of two whole days before we went to the 150th Battle of Picacho Pass where we camped out, Civil War-style, for 4 days.

Our display of medical items, toys, quilts, laundry, etc.

Of course, we sleep very well.

Just so you know, I hand-pieced and quilted both the quilts on our bed.  The 16-patch is the very first quilt I ever made!

A few weeks later, an organization I’m a part of had a grand ball.  Since Mr. Clark doesn’t dance and I don’t have a ball gown, and Miz Marion had the bright idea, we went to the ball as the hired help.  Domestics.  Maids.

How may we assist you?

I had to borrow a black dress.  But I made our little headpieces and finally got to use this fancy white apron I’ve had for years and never worn.  My pockets were filled with needle and thread and pins. and scissors.  In any case, I think more fun was had out in the hall than in the ballroom.  But by the end of the night, I do believe my feet hurt just as much!

So that brings us to the end of March and that’s got to be enough for today.  Perhaps now that I’ve sort of gotten back to this, I won’t procrastinate quite so long for the next installment.

Happy Sewing!

Mrs. Clark

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Secret Projects, Roosters, and Day Caps

Any moment now I think I will go running, screaming, into the woods.  The fact that I don’t really live near any woods is beside the point.  It’s a good thing I could not possibly run to where the woods are either.  What was it that we used to say?  I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.  I’ve worked hard for it and, by golly, no one’s going to keep me from it!  In fact, I am avoiding several projects just by sitting here typing this.  And feeling terribly guilty.  And sleepy.  It says a great deal about the abilities of our minister seeing as I made it through the service this morning without falling asleep.  Now that I think about it, I don’t think I had to nudge Mr. Clark (for a change) either.

The problem I’m faced with is that three weeks from today I will be in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.   I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months and months!   The Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference.  Doesn’t that just make your heart race?  Well, it does mine.  I went a few years ago and it was fabulous, and now I get to go again.  I will be traveling with two friends.  This is a good thing as we can share some of the expenses.  We’ll be gone for nine days.

So I have been saving every penny I can get my hands on and am willing to do everything short of walking the streets of downtown Prescott to finance this endeavor.  Not that I think there is a market for a middle-aged, over-weight, streetwalker wearing sweats and tennis shoes.   Even so, I’ve managed to pay for the conference (almost $400, thank you very much!)  and my plane ticket.  And in my underwear drawer are envelopes with labels like: Hotel, Food, Car Rental, Gas, and Spending Money.  Somebody told me I might have better luck filling them if I put it all in my sock drawer, but I was afraid I would forget and wouldn’t be able to find it when I need it.   I figured out what amount will be required for each of them (except for the last one), and as of yesterday, they are all filled.  This is a very exciting thing as I was very worried that I would have to learn to go without food for about 6 days.  But still,  I have no spending money whatsoever, which is a very sad thing.  I have only three weeks.

Back in December I saw a pattern for something at a quilt store that I just had to make for me and my two friends for the conference.  It took me over a month to find the right fabric because it all has to be made with Civil War reproduction prints.  One friend likes green, the other likes blue.  I chose red.  As is always the case, the only fabrics I really liked were not green or blue or red.  Have you noticed how much Civil War fabric is brown?  Why didn’t at least one of them ask for brown?  Anyway, this is my Secret Project.  Since I’ve never made this thing before, I made mine first.  It turned out . . . hmmm . . . less than acceptable.  Just shy of disastrous.   Oh, for crying out loud!  I don’t have time for this!  Praise God I purchased enough fabric to actually make it again.  I figured out what I want to change/fix, and am busily sewing three of them, assembly-line style.  I hope they turn out like I envision them.  Trust me, if they do, there will be pictures.  If not, there still may be pictures.  Only it will be of finely shredded Civil War fabric in greens, blues and reds.

In the meantime, I have a chicken problem.  I have seven hens.  It is so much fun to go out and collect fresh eggs.  They are wondrously delicious.  However, my chickens have taken to pecking each other and pulling out feathers.  It has become a serious problem.  I read that one reason is their pen is too confining.  So we (as in Mr. C) built a larger yard, effectively doubling the space.  The pecking continued.  A couple of weeks ago I was venting my frustration with a friend of mine who has lots of chickens and a smaller pen and no pecking problem.  But what she does have is a rooster.  In fact, she had too many roosters.  So a few days later I have a rooster.  How I wish I’d had a video camera when we put him in the coop.  All seven of “my girls” simultaneously went into hysterics.   I know what they were thinking.  He’ll eat all the food and never clean up after himself.   He’ll probably hog the roost and not let any of them up there.  And I’ll bet he smells funny too!  But I kind of like him.  I think he needs a name.  Haven’t been able to think of a good one yet.  Oh well.  I suppose the chicken saga will  have to wait for another installment some other day.

Miz Marion

Miz Jennifer

In the meantime, because we couldn’t possibly be any busier than we are already, my friends and I sat down to make day caps.  Mis Jennifer had it all set up for us with Styrofoam heads, lots of lace and ribbons and copies of period publications to get the creative juices flowing.  Sadly, I think I left my creativity at home that day.   Every last ounce of it.  I tried to do a couple of things, but wasn’t happy with any of itSo, I just took mine home, characteristically unfinished.   It’s now on the pile of unfinished projects covering the cutting table in my sewing “room”.

Miz Not-A-Clue

But I really, really need a day cap!  In fact, yesterday afternoon, on the way home from my United Daughters of the Confederacy meeting (of which there is a story to be told, but will have to wait for another day), I was pondering this exact problem.  You see, once a month I spend my Sunday afternoon volunteering at the Sharlot Hall Museum.  In the Governor’s Mansion to be exact.  The mansion was built in 1864.  So, duh, I have to go dressed in my 1860s clothes.  But I’m inside, so wearing a bonnet is inappropriate.  The appropriate thing would be to be wearing a day cap.  But I don’t have a day cap!  And today was my day at the museum.  I’m tired of working in the mansion daycapless.  Also, the previously mentioned day cap was of the fine, lace-y type.  I’m more of the work dress and apron type.  So finishing the aforementioned day cap didn’t really interest me at the moment.  I have a nice piece of lawn fabric that would make a very sweet day cap.  I even have a pattern (only minimal creativity will be required).  I have the whole rest of the day.  By golly, I think I can do this!   Well, I looked everywhere and couldn’t find the lawn!  I have no idea what I’ve done with it.  I was just moving it out of my way a few weeks ago.  It’s in a large zip-lock bag with the word “LAWN” written on it.   Grumble, grumble.   I suppose I’ll have to use what I can find.  Then I had to take a break at 7 p.m. to find a store here in my small town that sells 1/4″ elastic (shhhh, don’t tell!) that I found after only going to two stores (thank you Dollar General!).  I actually finished it at 1 a.m. Sunday and wore it at the mansion.   Next time, I’ll get a picture with my head under it.  In the meantime, Mr. C was happy to hold it so I could get a picture.  What do you think?

Oh, and three days after I get home from Pennsylvania we have the 150th anniversary of the Battle at Picacho Pass–only the largest Civil War reenactment in Arizona.  So those dresses I have in my 12 UFOs for 2012 list?  They have to be ready before I leave in three weeks.  And I need to fix one of my chemises…. and this was the year I was going to make Mr. C a new shirt for Picacho…. I’m going to bed.  Tomorrow will be another day.

Happy Sewing!

Mrs. Clark

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Not Too Busy

Hello again!  Has it really been 3 weeks since I’ve been here?!?  Oh, my.  I haven’t been idle.  Not by a long shot.  I’ve been praying for years now for one boring day.  I’m not greedy.  Just one.   I suppose it’s possible that I would like it entirely too much.  Probably I would just really hate it.  And God is the giver of every good thing, so I guess that’s why this prayer has been left hanging.  Now I get it.  Sooooo, I’ll start praying for something else.  Organization sounds like a good thing to ask for.  I learned my lesson on asking for Patience.  Not going there again.

So, what have I been busy doing, you ask?  Well, remember that list of Twelve UFO’s for 2012?  Of course, I have lots more than 12 unfinished projects, but I had to pick only 12 and that actually made the list seem more like a small ravine and less like the Grand Canyon.  And as of today, it’s shorter still!  Yea for me!

The mini scrap quilt is finished!  I used Big Stitch Quilting.  For the binding, I used the “piano key” strips that were leftover from the big quilt.  I couldn’t decide how to quilt the sashing, so I didn’t.  I know it isn’t fancy.  Finished is finished.  Right?

The Civil War day dress I was altering for a lady in my United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter is done.  She bought it elsewhere, but it needed a little help.  So I added a hem facing and white collar.  It had a gusset on each side of the bodice, adding about 4″ around the waist that she didn’t need.  I took them out and then reattached the skirt (readjusting the pleats).  Adding the white trim took a little while.  I just didn’t know what I wanted to do.   I think it turned out rather nice.

Alright.  Two down, ten more to go!  I’m on a roll!  Cooking with gas!  No stopping me now!

In the meantime, I got sort of, um, distracted.  I was at Jo-Ann’s and had a little accident.  There I was, walking around pushing my little green cart, minding my own business and whammo!  Stuff jumped off the rack and forced me to buy it!  Honestly, that’s how it happened!  Sadly, I am the only witness.

So now I have a couple of little purse frames.  I’m thinking of making one coin-purse-size and another a little longer.  The other day I was at my favorite thrift store and got a large size 100% cotton, Christmas-red, velvet shirt-jacket thing.  Just perfect for my purses.  I would have already started this project, but I want to line them with some cream-colored, satiny remnant I keep finding when I’m not looking for it and now have no idea where it is.   So it is set aside for another day.

Right after Christmas, the Temecula Quilt Co. was doing a Mini Mystery Sampler Quilt called The Twelve Days of Christmas.  Every day, for 12 days, they gave another 3 1/2″ block.  Well, I had some very special fabric that was just sitting around feeling lonely, so I decided to try it.  I made the twelve blocks, but haven’t gotten any further.  As you can see, the number of pieces in each block corresponds with the day number.  The first day is only one fabric, the second day has two fabrics, etc.  So that’s set aside for another day.

Then one day a couple of weeks ago I saw a twirly pinwheel block somewhere in computerland.  I don’t know.  Maybe it has a real name.  And since I still had quite a bit of that very special lonely fabric, thought I’d give it a try.  These will be 4″ blocks when I’m done.  But for now it’s set aside for another day.

So, one of the things on my little ravine sized-list is the Dear Jane quilt.  Four more blocks finished!  They all have a little applique and I’ve saved most of that for another day.   But recently I learned a method that seems to be working better for me and I’m not nearly as intimidated as I used to be.  However, there was one block that I got almost finished when I discovered that it really didn’t look exactly like Jane’s.  And I really didn’t like my fabric choice.  So, started all over with another fabric.  But after it was almost done, I really didn’t like my new fabric choice either!  When I checked, the selvage edge said it was 1890s fabric.  Oh for crying out loud!  I can’t use that! The whole kit and caboodle got set aside for another day.

And then I’ve been taking a Jo Morton quilt class and once a month I’m supposed to sew a little doll-sized quilt…..yeah, sure.  As of now, I’ve got patterns and instructions for 3 quilts.  Right after Christmas I started the second one.  Yes, the second one.  The reason I’m not going to be sewing the first one would take too much time and I don’t want to go into it.  So, as I was busily making a million little triangles for quilt number two, I ran into a snag.  I didn’t have enough of the right fabric and the quilt store is like only about 110 miles away.  And then, after the next class, I tried really hard to find just the right fabric and it wasn’t there.  But I’m desperate, so I try to find any old fabric that might possibly work.  They didn’t have any of that either.  I even got a classmate to help.  She wasn’t at all.  I’ve looked and looked.  Really I have.  Been to two other quilt stores.  I have all these half squares and nothing to make them into squares.   So with a really big sigh, I have set these aside for another day.

Also, since New Years I have:  taught a Dear Jane quilt class; visited a quilt show (only 85 miles from here); attended a Women’s Clothing seminar on 1830’s; quilted with my friends; put a new sewing machine on layaway; joined a woman’s Bible study; was a docent one afternoon at our historical museum; went to a meeting of my Civil War unit (only like a 250 mile trip); collected about 114 eggs; started working on a secret project; went to church some; brushed the dog; and worked at my day job.  And washed my sheets.

Happy Sewing!

Mrs. Clark

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New T-shirt Only Better

I realized after posting the 12 UFOs with pictures and everything that those were only the things I’ve actually, to one degree or another, started.  It did not even begin to approach the projects for which I have a pattern and fabric, but have no tangible evidence of turning into anything . . . um, usable.  And, sadly, I left off a quilt I started many years ago and is very neatly stored in the itty-bitty closet in my very-small-and-compact sewing room, which I didn’t even want to mention as I am rather ashamed of myself for letting it go to “LIP” (the Land of Ignored Projects).

So, instead of getting started on any of those projects, Saturday I spent the better part of the morning on the computer.  Pinterest to be exact.  I strongly recommend Pinterest.  Check it out right after you finish this.  I even made a link to it so it’ll be really easy to do.  Just wait til the end.  Okay.  Where was I?  Oh yeah.  Anyway.  While I was tootling around at Pinterest I found someone who made some really cute alterations to t-shirts.  You might want to check it out for yourself:  Tea Rose Home.  So it got me to thinking that I should try something like that.  But seeing as it’s a 30 minute drive to Walmart, I didn’t want to go get a new shirt.  And I really want to try this.  Today.  I’m not sure I can wait to just happen upon a fabulously good deal on T shirts like she did.

And then I remembered.  I do in fact have a new T shirt that needs to be altered.  I have to alter most of the unisex T shirts I get because the neck is too tight and I have a problem with things being too snug around my neck.  I also have to shorten them.

This is my Harkins Movie T shirt that will get me a “free” bag of popcorn when I wear it next time we go to the movies.  It is rather boring.  Looks like everyone elses.   I’m wanting to see War Horse and can hardly wait for my nice warm bag of buttery popcorn.

You can see the pin at the bottom marking where I’m going to turn it up and sew a new hem in place.

Next I turned down the ribbing at the neck.  Then I sewed it using one of the stretch stitches on my sewing machine.  I don’t have a serger or anything fancy, but manage to get the job done just the same.  Because I’m going to add a ruffle, I want the neckline to have some stability.  So this time I let the ribbing act sort of like a facing.

Next I pressed the new hemline and sewed it with a stretch stitch also.   Then I cut away the leftover fabric.  This is what I used for the ruffle and flowers.

I used quilting tools to make the ruffle.  I cut open the loop from the bottom of the shirt.   Originally I thought I would make a double ruffle, so I cut one 1 1/4″ wide and another 3/4″ wide.   I cut the hem off right above the stitching.I made a gathering stitch down the center of the 1 1/4″ wide strip.  I placed a pin at the place on the neckline just to the side that I wanted to be the “center” of my decoration and another at the exact opposite side.  Then gathered the ruffle and pinned it in place.

Because I share my home with a couple of cats, I often have one or the other helping me with every project.  Often Jackson will sleep on the sewing table or sit and stare out the window.  Today, he was in a playful mood.  More than once I had to remove him altogether.Do you see the little stuffy in the canning jar behind his right ear?  It’s his fault.  Jackson loves to play with stuffies.  I even got him some of is very own.  However, this one in particular he could not leave alone.  I hid it all over my sewing room, but he would find it every time.  It has sentimental value and I wanted to keep it for myself.  So out of desperation, I put it in a jar and now I can see it and Jackson’s claws can’t get at it.

So, back to sewing.  I simply sewed the ruffle down the center, following the gathering seam.  Then I used the hem that I had cut off to make the flowers.  I don’t recall how long either piece was, maybe 10 inches or so.  I ran a gathering stitch around and just played with it.  I have never made a fabric flower before and don’t have any idea if I did it right or not.  I even made a little flower bud.

I hand sewed them in place where the ruffle overlapped.

So, now I’ll get my “free” warn buttery popcorn with a T shirt no one else in town has!  This project was fairly easy and actually kind of fun.  I’ll have to keep my eyes open for more shirts….

Happy New Year!

Mrs. Clark



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2012 UFO Challenge

I discovered a UFO Challenge on Judy Laquidara’s blog and decided to join.  So, here are my 12 UFOs (in no particular order):

  1. Dear Jane quilt – 47 blocks and 56 triangles left to do.  This is being sewn by hand in Civil war reproduction prints (sorry, no picture).
  2.  Civil War “Jane” – only 98 more blocks to go.  This is also done in Civil War reproduction fabrics and sewn by hand.  One day it will cover our bed at Civil War reenactments.
  3. Red, White and Blue full-size quilt.  Needs to be quilted.
  4. Alter/lengthen sleeves on Civil War work dress.
  5. Add trim to Civil War dress for Kathy.  Finished most of the other work on this dress.
  6. Remove trim and fix neckline, then make new trim for Civil War sheer dress (hopefully before summer!).
  7. Finish cutting out pieces and start sewing on Second Hand Clothes quilt.  Using Civil War reproduction fabrics and sewing by hand.  Now that I found the background fabric, I can get working on it.
  8. Pink, Purple and green doll quilt.
  9. Make clothes for Civil War reproduction doll.  She’s been nekkid for far too long!
  10. Quilt Christmas table topper.
  11. Finish quilting mini scrap quilt.
  12. Applique stars on bib of secessionist apron.  Then finish assembly.  Sorry, no picture of this one.

Well, that’s the list of projects I’ve already started.  What is blatantly missing are all the projects I have floating around in my head.  Or the ones that I have yet to come up with this year.   But I have high hopes.

Happy Sewing!

Mrs. Clark

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Did you have a great Christmas?  I surely hope so.

The day after Christmas can feel kind of empty.  I mean, we’ve been so busy with all that goes into making Christmas CHRISTMAS! for weeks.  But today it’s back to … whatever.  There’s a stack of dirty dishes that I gave myself a holiday from yesterday and since the dish fairy did not show up while I was sleeping, I guess I’m the one who’ll be doing them after all.   And because Daughter #1 and Son-in-Law will be driving from the Big City to visit this afternoon, I have plans to make a big pot of chili and cornbread for dinner.  In fact, I’ve already started it.  The meat is thawing on the stove.  It’s kind of nice having a gas stove with pilot lights that keep it warm all the time.  Except in the summer.  Yesterday I put the butter in the oven to soften up a little before dinner.  It was nice having soft butter for the corn on the cob.  And baked potato.

Anyway, our Christmas was rather quiet, just not right at first.  We got up to the ringing of the cell phone.  Daughter #2, who lives in a completely different timezone, called at 7:28.  And said we didn’t answer the first time she called.  At 5:38!  It’s just a good thing I leave my phone at the other end of the house at night.  She and Son-in-Law #2 were on their way somewhere having an, discussion about the route he was taking…that being of the scenic variety.  But they got to see a raccoon cross the road.  You’d think that would have made it better.   After that, we opened our gifts.  Mr. C liked his.  I don’t want to talk about mine.

After getting home from Christmas Eve service, I made our traditional Coffee Cake.  For some reason, though I really do try, I can never seem to make it earlier.  Last year I managed to set it on fire, but that’s a story for another day.  Having learned my lesson, this year I set it on the table to cool.

The swirls are cinnamon/brown sugar/butter yumminess that could put a weaker woman into a diabetic coma.  So I had two pieces for breakfast.    Along with eggs and sausage.  And hot chocolate.  Then, because it was Sunday, we went to church.  This was Mr. Clark’s day to be head usher which means he has all kinds of things to do, like get there early.   I arrived in time to find a good seat.

Home again.  This is when the day got really quiet.  Just the two of us and not much else going on.  So, out came some unfinished quilting projects.  And I actually located all the parts I needed.  Needle, thread, scissors, buttons.  Then I put on the latest Netflix selection, Lost in Austen, and started working. Don’t you just love Jane Austen?  I wish we still talked like that.  “I love you. I have followed you to this infernal place because I would follow you anywhere! I would harrow Hell to be with you!”

That is until Mr. Clark came in wondering if I was as hungry as he was.  I doubt it.  He’s always hungry.  Or he’s eating.  So I had to make dinner.   Well, except for grilling the steaks.  That’s his part.  Because he knows how to light the grill.  No, I do not want to learn. And he doesn’t complain about standing out in 40 degree sunshine.  Not much anyway.  It’s the least he can do after those “presents” he gave me.

After that little diversion, I got back to working on my quilts.  That is until I had to stop and spend about 52 minutes looking for the bias binding strips that I had when I sewed these quilts together back in September.   But a good thing!  For the better part of the last month I’ve been searching for some fabric I got for another quilt project, and there it was as plain as day.  So, I guess it all turned out okay.

Wow.  Can it really be true?  I actually finished something?!?  I am rather amazed with myself.  No, I think I can be, even though they are rather little.  Finished is finished.  I used a Lil’ Twister Primitive Gatherings pattern I got from Olde World Quilt Shoppe.

This one is 8 inches square.  I tried quilting with my sewing machine before, but it ended up looking something less than acceptable (bordering on ugly).  And since this is so small, didn’t want to quilt by hand.  I think the buttons worked.  (I used DMC #12 perle cotton and made it appear as if they are tied on.  If I had a better camera, I could take a closeup of the buttons.)


I didn’t want to copy the button idea on the larger quilt, so I just used #10 DMC crochet cotton and tied it.  It ended up being 12 1/4 inches square.  I used flannel for the batting in both quilts.  The candy canes are for perspective.

The pattern starts with 2 1/2″ squares.  I was using scraps of fabric I get from Mrs. K, so didn’t really follow the pattern.  I just sewed until I thought I had enough.  After cutting and re-sewing the blocks, they ended up being smaller than I thought.  Oh, well.

So, I was able to make these little quilts with materials given to me and what I already had on hand.  What a sweet deal.  Finished.  Finitura.  Completo.  Komplett.  If I keep this up, I may have to change the name of my blog.

Mrs. Clark


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Where Are You Christmas?

“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.  Who’s got a penny for the old man’s hat?  If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do.  If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!”  I can hear Miss Piggy singing.  There are several songs Daughter #2 and I would sing every Christmas.  Our favorite was “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”. Only a hippopotamus will do.  Sung at the very top of our voices.  <Heavy sigh>

I have spent the better part of the last few weeks wallowing in self-pity.  You see, I love, Love, LOVE! Christmas!!  Always have.  Not really sure why, but there it is.  I love it in it’s own time, of course.  Can’t start before Thanksgiving.  Can’t start on Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving deserves it’s own day.  But the day after, out came all the boxes of decorations and ornaments.  Boxes and boxes.  And boxes.  Yes, those too.  Because you cannot have too much Christmas.  Isn’t possible.

Then there are the Traditions.  You know, the things you do every year; year in and year out; and if Mom tries to discontinue one or change it in any way total and absolute mutiny and mayhem ensues, loudly.  Don’t ask how I know this.  Just take my word for it.  I don’t know how or when some of these traditions got started, but we can’t have Christmas without them.  So, every Christmas eve, I make our special coffee cake.  I do all the food preparation the day before.  Which may explain why we’re always late for Christmas Eve Church Service.

Then there is the order that must be observed.  The girls would get their stockings right away and sit on our bed while we all got to open the little silly gifts that are the Stocking Presents.  Then we’d make our way to the living room.  Christmas music would be played on the stereo.  Candles would be lit.  We open gifts one at a time.  Of course, the girls got more than the parents, so they often opened two or three to our one.  This process could take hours.  We savored the whole process.  This was Christmas and it only comes once a year.

But.  Life goes on.  Things change.  Daughter #1 moved out and got married and has other family to see too, and we are only one of her stops in a very busy day.  So, we make it work for a few more years.  Then Daughter #2 goes away to college.  And we move to a new town.  For several Christmases we live in our itty-bitty 5th-wheel trailer.  Daughter #2 gets married and lives on the other side of the country.  We move into a smallish single-wide.  There really is no room for even a Christmas tree, much less all those boxes and boxes of “Christmas”.  I do a little decorating, but it just isn’t the same.  And my girls want the coffee cake recipe so they can continue the tradition at their homes.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m a glass-is-half-full kind of person.  Let’s look on the bright side.  God has been good this year.  We can enjoy what we have and not regret what we don’t.  But still there are times sadness overtakes me.  And this year it seems to have gotten the better of me more often than not.  So, when I heard the song by Faith Hill, “Where Are you Christmas“, the other day, I just let the misery that had been building up wash over me and had a good cry.

This year we bought a tree.  I guess this is the one year I really needed one.  And though I’d kept my gloomy-gus attitude pretty much to myself, Mr. Clark made sure we got a tree.  We’d always had a cut tree.  A real one that smelled good and lost all it’s needles.  (One year we even had to get two trees, but that’s a story for another day.)  This year we got a live tree.  That we have to plant in the yard.  It’s a little scotch pine.  And we’re thinking of planting it near the chicken coop so come summer it will provide a little shade for the girls in 10 or 20 years.  It’s still sitting on the front porch.  We’re supposed to “acclimate” it to being in a warm house.  I don’t want to get out any of the boxes of ornaments and then have to pick a few that will fit on this little tree.  I haven’t seen any of my ornaments in over 5 years and I don’t have the heart to look through them this year.  So I’ve bought a few new ornaments.  My pile looked rather small and pathetic.  Mr. C brought me some pretty jingle-bell ornaments in red and gold.  They will look nice.

I saw some pretty red mitten ornaments at Jo-Anns, but even on sale they were rather over-priced.   But then I found some children’s mittens on sale for $1/pair.  I picked up several in red, green and blue.  Then I got some buttons and ribbon.   And this is what I did with it all:

And now it’s starting to feel a little more like Christmas at my house.  And in my heart.

I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.    May the Lord bless you in every way.  And bring peace and joy in the new year.

Mrs. Clark





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