Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Knitted Knockers

These are Knitted Knockers.  They are breast prostheses that are given free to women who have had mastectomies, and who request them.  I have no actual experience with that side of the equation, but there are quite a few seeming advantages to these over some other non-implant options.  Here's what they say on their website:

Knitted Knockers are special handmade breast prostheses for women who have undergone mastectomies or other procedures to the breast. Traditional breast prosthetics are usually expensive, heavy, sweaty and uncomfortable. They typically require special bras or camisoles with pockets and can’t be worn for weeks after surgery. Knitted Knockers on the other hand are soft, comfortable, beautiful and when placed in a regular bra they take the shape and feel of a real breast. Our special volunteer knitters provide these FREE to those requesting them.  KnittedKnockers.org

This has been a departure for me, but I've been knitting prayer shawls for quite a while, and I have to say, I'm a little tired of them.  A friend told me about these.  Her mother asked her to knit some for her, and she's been doing them since.  They're a fun project, quick, and interesting knitting, yet not requiring total attention.  A really good travel or television project.  You can choose which size to make from their pattern.

I am using Paton's Grace, one of the approved yarns.  They have a long list of yarns that have been tested to remain soft after washing, etc.  I've had no problem finding it at Michael's.

You can see that mine are not stuffed yet.  I will send them in for distribution without stuffing them, as it's easier to mail them flat, and they are adjustable with a drawstring at the center hole on the back, and the recipient can personalize them with the amount and type of stuffing, including adding weight if desired.

Here's what I've done so far.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

I Found It! (The Instant Jacket Pattern)

I'm sure most of you have just as much stuff as I do related to our love of needlework of various kinds, and this will be a familiar tale.

This summer I suddenly decided I needed to make another little knitted cardigan/jacket, and I wanted to use a TNT pattern (Tried and True) that I've made several times before, but it's been probably 10 years since I used this pattern. And so, the pattern hunt began.

This is a photo from 2010 and the only one I can find right now, but you can see why it's just a nice, handy, boxy little cardigan that takes very little yarn.  I'm pretty sure I've made this pattern with a collar as well.  It was a ribbon-y yarn mixture with pink and brown and gold, maybe.  Hmmm, I 'll have to look for that one.

I looked hard for a while, then finally decided that it would show up eventually.  It wasn't really an emergency anyway.  Well, today was the day. I was putting away the few Halloween decorations I have, and found a pile of knitting magazines I had overlooked. At the bottom was a very large 3-ring binder with notes and patterns.  I hardly dared hope it would be there, but TaDa! There it was. Now I need to find the years I thought I had in mind.

I've really been in a knitting, sewing, making, singing mood lately, and it's great.  I hope it lasts.  I think it's the singing that's doing it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Microwave Toffee Recipe

This recipe was requested, and I'm happy to share. It's a really easy, delicious treat. I've made Toffee Spoons several times, but it's been a while.   I guess I should do it again this year.  It's fun to get demitasse spoons and dip them in the toffee, then decorate or dip again in chocolate. I tie small cellophane candy bags over the bowls of the spoons with festive twist ties, and they're nice gifts. I have been surprised how often I get the spoons back. I think people are hoping I'll make them again.

Buttery Almond Toffee  

(Recipe from my friend, Beth K D)

1 cup chopped whole natural almonds (or pecans)
2 TBS unsalted butter
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Parchment paper
1 (12 oz) package semisweet chocolate morsels

Toast the Almonds: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine almonds and 2 Tbs. butter on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, stir and bake 2 more minutes. (Try a little less time than called for if using pecans).  Drain on paper towels.
Make the Toffee:
Place 1 cup butter in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and
microwave at HIGH for 1 minute.  Add sugar, ¼ cup water, corn syrup, and salt. Cover;
microwave at HIGH for 3 minutes. (This step washes down sugar crystals from sides
of pan.) Uncover, stir gently, and microwave at HIGH for 10 minutes or until golden

Using oven mitts, remove bowl from microwave, stir in vanilla. Pour candy mixture,
without scraping sides of pan, onto a greased baking sheet lined with parchment
paper, quickly spreading candy to ¼ inch thickness.

Sprinkle chocolate morsels over toffee; let stand 1 minute or until chocolate begins to
melt. Spread chocolate evenly over candy; sprinkle with almonds, pressing gently
with fingertips. Cool completely. Chill 1 hour or until firm. Break toffee into pieces. Store in
an airtight container.

(Note:  I added most of my nuts into the toffee mixture except some really fine ones for
sprinkling on top.  I also melted my chips in the microwave so I didn’t have to wait to

My own, personal notes:
(½ Recipe makes about 70 Demitasse Spoons)
Xmas 2013 as per recipe instructions.
Xmas 2014 half recipe. Half as dipped toffee spoons using demitasse spoons.  Added 1/2Tbsp oil to 1 Cup chocolate chips for dipping. Chopped nuts very fine and dipped after chocolate.  Half as per recipe instructions. Will use dipping chocolate/almond bark next time. Otherwise it never wants to harden, and is a mess.

Spoons from Webstaurant.com. They are unbelievably affordable.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Vogue 1250 in a Woven Cotton (for Carolyn)

I promised Carolyn some photos of the front of this dress when I got them taken.  I think these aren't too bad, and so here they are.

 You can see that I used a 'belt' at centerfront, with covered buttons to attach it, to control the fullness that I had to add to be able to wear this dress in a woven, totally non-stretch fabric rather than the knit it was designed for.  There's also a zipper on the side seam for ease of getting it on.  You still have to pull it over your head, but this helps.


Frugality and a New Gym Bag

I thought this was just interesting.  To me, if no one else, anyway. I have always liked mending, to some extent. It's nice to be able to keep something going if I really like it, rather than throwing it away for a small problem

The photo above is my OLD gym bag, which was a give-away from the World Wildlife Fund, probably about 8 or 9 years ago.  It has held together remarkably well.  I have mended it several times, but mainly it was the straps that would come loose.  I've reattached them several times.  I think I re-sewed the seams at some time or other, but only because there was a small opening in one, and I thought I might as well just reinforce them all while I was at it.

As you can see, the laminated layer finally was de-laminating, and I didn't know what to do about that.  I love the size and shape of the bag though, and the fact that it has almost no weight by itself. 

The bottom photo is my new gym bag, which is a give-away from the World Wildlife Fund. Luckily, they were still offering these as a premium, so I got a nice blue one.  Still turtles, but I miss the seahorses.

Though it doesn't look like it, they are the same 'fabric'.  The old one almost looks quilted at this point, but it's just the structure of the fabric and the way that it's gotten old and worn.  I'm assuming the new one will do the same in a few years.  It didn't start de-laminating until the last few months, so I have high hopes for another decade or so from this one.

Friday, August 31, 2018


Nebraska Bishop Method of Clothing Construction
Kearney Area Sewing Guild


I promised  you the flyer when I got it, so here it is.  
This expo is coming up very soon, so get your reservations in if you are able to attend.  

I would LOVE to see you there!
If you're having trouble reading it, it's as big as I could make it.  
Make your check payable to NBMCC and send to:
Maureen Childears
12825 E. Kilmar Valley Road
Stapleton, NE  69163-9626

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Photo Day

As some of you know, I'm going to be the Presenter at the Kearney, Nebraska Sewing Expo September 21 and 22, 2018.  It's put on each year by the Bishop Method Clothing Group of Nebraska, and the Kearney-Area ASG chapter.  It's always a wonderful weekend, and I'm so excited to have been asked to present this year!  Their flyer will be out this month, and I will put it here in case anyone is interested who hasn't gotten it before.

So as you can imagine, I'm madly getting ready for my classes.  I've been working on this for quite some time, and it's getting down to the wire. 

One of the things I will be doing is a Trunk Show with many items from my wardrobe.  It will be mainly Marfy pattern garments, since that's what I sew most, and like best, but of course, there are others too.  When you come across something great, you have to go for it.  There will be 4 classes altogether including

Wardrobe Planning & Perfect Proportions

Marfy + Trunk Show

Project Planning for Sewing Success

Saran Wrap Fitting Techniques

I am so lucky to have a sister who's a whiz with a camera.  She came over today and we took quite a few long-delayed photos of my projects.  Here are a few teasers.

This is Marfy dress 2330 and jacket 3828. The fabric is from Barcelona, Spain when I shopped with the legendary Paco Peralta and Cristina.


Marfy caftan 3924 in silk charmeuse with lace motifs at the neckline.  This was made to wear at a destination wedding in Cozumel.

Vogue dress 1250 in a woven cotton print.  The dress is designed for knits only, but it worked out well with a side zipper and a sightly larger size.  I also added the double collar with applique.  This was made to attend a summer wedding, and it's one of my favorite summer dresses.

FSG Tunic 1960, Marfy Tank 9829, Marfy pants 0913.  The tank and tunic are in a semi-sheer knit, so two layers give opacity.  The pants are in a pleather-type fabric from one of my New York garment district shopping trips.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sew Intriguing: Re-Publishing the Stitcher's Guild Backstory and History

Sew Intriguing: Re-Publishing the Stitcher's Guild Backstory and History

I originally published this in July, 2013.  I then took this post down  as a courtesy to Julie Ford (DragonLady on SG), but I see no reason not to re-publish it at this point.  I have not been reading SG or having anything to do with it since this time, and since Julie has never seen fit to acknowledge either my (or Kathryn's) genesis of the whole thing, or my acquiescence to her request to remove this post, it's going back up.  Obviously it doesn't matter to her, so why should it matter to me?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sheila Hicks at Joslyn

I've been trying to get to this show for a while now, and I actually paid and made it to the gallery at Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha about a month ago, but they were having trouble with their alarm system, and there were strobe lights all over the museum flashing rapidly.  It was instant headache time, so we left, and I made it back today alone.  I'm so glad I didn't miss this.  What a wonderful exhibit!

Sheila Hicks is a native of Hastings, Nebraska.  Here's what Joslyn has as her bio:

Hicks was born in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1934 and trained as a painter at the Yale University School of Art, taking courses with famed color theorist Josef Albers, pre-Columbian art scholar George Kubler, and the architect Louis Kahn. Although she had learned to embroider and knit early in life, Hicks became interested in textiles in 1956 while studying Latin American art. The following year, she traveled to South America, a formative experience for the young artist. With Santiago, Chile, as her home base, Hicks toured the continent to photograph the landscape and historical sites and learn indigenous weaving techniques. These textile practices, along with other skills the artist discovered during her extensive travels — such as back-strap weaving and Moroccan and Guatemalan rug-making — continue to inform Hicks’s approach, even as she has developed new ways to use thread. 

I really  love almost all of what they showed, although I found it interesting that the first smaller room of the exhibition gallery, that you could see some of without a ticket, was the least interesting, at least to me.  Her colors and use of varied textiles and threads is really inspiring.  

I find myself eager to try to make art rather than just garments.  We shall see how that goes.  I purchased the exhibition catalog, Sheila Hicks: Material Voices to inspire me as time goes on.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Style Arc Issy Dress with Gorgeous Fabric

 As we all know, Gorgeous Fabrics does live up to their name. Ann chooses the most beautiful things for us to try to resist. This is a pique knit print I ordered before Christmas but had planned to use it for spring.

Last week gave us some horrendously cold weather which is still with us, and I decided last night to begin a dress out of this cheery fabric, just to warm up a little.  Dresses seem to be what I want to wear lately, and I don't really have many winter dresses, and this is not one either, so obviously my planning is not the best.

 I've been wanting to try Style Arc's Issy Top as a dress since my top turned out pretty well.  (Apparently I did not blog about that top, although I like it a lot.)  I got this pattern as a free pattern-of-the-month from StyleArc with the purchase of the Zoe Pencil Skirt.  I have to say, the skirt pattern was not a winner for me.  I made it up in a nice wool, lined it, had high hopes for the interesting side seams, and it was really nothing spectacular.  However, the Issy Top has been great fun, so I feel like it turned out well either way.

As you can see in the line drawing, it's an asymmetric top with gathers on both side seams, and an unusual draped neckline that looks like it might be loose, but is firmly attached and stays put in this shape.

My dress is basically the top with 18" added to the length, and I just extended the side seam lines at the original angles.  I ended up doing one more gathered area toward the hem on the right side.

Generally, I'd have to say I like this, but I think it might be better in a plain fabric, so the ruching would show a little better, and perhaps read as "cool ruching" rather than what I am afraid may be its message, "wrinkly wrinkles".   The fashion-savvy will know the difference obviously, but the rest of the population may be flummoxed.

I think this is cute though, and I will probably wear it first for an early "Spring" luncheon in March.  Hope it's not snowing and sleeting then! 

Still Swimming

I'm still doing Water Aerobics about 3 times a week, and so I still go through swimsuits with some regularity.  I finished one about a week ago, and another one today.  These are both from fabric I got at Spandex House when I was in New York last February, and shopped with Rosie, enabler extraordinaire.

They are the same pattern, but the green/brown print has a piece of Fold-Over Elastic (FOE) used as trim at the empire line and all around the back.  I usually leave the back pretty open, but this needed something, I thought, and I think it's cute.  You can see in the photos how the elastic works.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Top This! DMC Toddler Giraffe Hat

I bought this kit the other day at Hancock Fabric, and it turned out to be a very quick project (a couple of hours) and very cute.

You knit the hat and the topper is tied on with the attached ribbons, through a rubbery "washer" on the inside of the hat.

I had enough yarn to do almost 2 toddler-size hats, and I finished the second one with a cabled cotton yarn I had on  hand from a Prada style handbag I made several years ago.  I use a pompon on the top of it, and will donate it.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

American Girl Sweater Sets

I really enjoyed knitting these sweater and  hat sets.  A friend asked me to make them for her granddaughters, and I thought I might try.

The pattern is free.  Mochi Plus 18" Doll Sweater & Hat.

 It's also available on Ravelry

Instead of the specified yarn, she chose Lion Brand's Amazing.  I thought it was a good choice, and it worked beautifully for this pattern.  I like the colors too.  The color of the top set is Arcadia, the lower one is Wildflowers.

One skein made both the sweater and hat in each colorway with only a yard or two left over.

I did the Wildflowers set first, and used the specified needle sizes of 5 and 9.  The Arcadia set was done second, and I changed to size 4 and 8 needles, although I did the hat with the original sizes in both cases.

Each set took about 3 days, and was a lot of fun to knit.  I may try other doll clothes, as these were so much fun to knit.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tiny Hawaiian Shirt

This Hawaiian shirt is for an 18-month old. 

It's Burda magazine #136 from March, 2007.  What a great source for children's patterns. I never throw those magazines away, and eventually you realize you have a fairly classic pattern for most children's garments, and quite a few adults as well.

I heard that Nikki was having trouble finding a Hawaiian print shirt for Carmine's Halloween costume (he's going to be Ace Ventura, Pet Detective) and I volunteered to assist.  Then I had to find fabric. 

 I realized that most Hawaiian prints are very large-scale, and would overwhelm a small boy.  Luckily, we have a great source for prints of all types here.  The Cosmic Cow.  It's a quilting shop, but a really great one.  I was pleased to find just what I wanted.

This is a photo of the pattern schematic and beginning of the instructions, in case you don't know what Burda patterns are like.

I've made a lot of shirts, but never one this tiny, and it was fun.

Flounced Mauve Dress

Ruffles are not my style, but flounces are not ruffles, and asymmetric designs are always fun.

This Marfy pattern (#3744) appealed to me immediately when I received the catalog, and just FYI, there's a floor-length version that's beautiful and would make a great prom or evening gown.  It's a separate pattern, which I can  understand, since all of those flounces are redrafted to attach to a longer main skirt.  This keeps the proportions correct.

It was somewhat challenging to alter since the bodice is not symmetric, and it also has no 'regular' darts.  So I used a combination of a princess FBA and using my saran wrap block to make sure I had made the changes I needed.  I think it turned out pretty well, and actually, this was my 'muslin', though I had hopes that it would be very wearable.  I think it is.

I used a lightweight matte jersey I got from Kashi at Metro Textiles in New York. 

I left all the edges raw.  In snoop shopping in NY and Chicago recently, and online of course, I am seeing a lot of this, and if they can do it, so can I.  The trickiest part was making the hook and eye at the top of the zipper look neat on the outside since there was no facing to sew it to.  I think this works well.  It's visible, obviously, but not messy looking.  It's stitched through the top of the zipper tape for stability, and to control the zipper tape as well.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kearney and Sarah Veblen

I  had such a good time in Kearney last Friday and Saturday with old and new friends from the Kearney Area ASG chapter and the NBMCC (Nebraska Bishop Method of Clothing Construction).  They put on a fantastic Expo every fall, and this year the presenter was Sarah Veblen!  Of course, I could not miss it.

What an expert fitter she is, and I am dying to try some of her techniques.  I'm on my own, since I was unable to stay for the hands-on workshop on Sunday at Cari's lovely sewing studio.  It makes me think about going to one of her sewing weeks in Baltimore.

Here are a couple more photos of  Sarah's classes, but you can probably tell that I was enjoying, and taking notes more than I was taking photos.

Marfy 1128 - Autumn Cocktail Dress - Completed

This latest iteration of Marfy 1128 turned out really well, I think.  This is the finished look.  It's hard to catch the sparklieness of the actual dress without having it be almost impossible to actually see.  I got to wear it this past weekend to a fundraising dinner, and I felt very appropriately dressed.

 The hem is my favorite part.  I love the way it drapes and catches itself up, especially in the back.  I changed the back neckline from a very low square back to a higher scoop, which is still fairly low. 

I have quite a few inner construction photos for this.  The blog photos are smaller than those you can see if you click here.  As  I think I said previously, I underlined this with a fairly heavy satin lining, almost something you would use for a coat lining.  I turned the satin side toward the body, and extended it about 5" longer than the dress hem edge. 

 You can see how I turned the hem up to the outside on the finished garment photos, but here is the inside of the hem, which comes out very nicely since all the raw edges are inside the rolled part on the outside of the dress.

The original pattern has front horizontal and vertical darts, and gathering at the neckline under a chiffon collar.  I stitched the horizontal darts, but used the other ease to drape from the waist up to the neckline.  You can see close ups of the neckline and waist draping here.
The facing you can see on the neckline is a folded bias strip of the lining fabric.  The neckline stands out in places, as it is supposed to, and the bias band helps it to stay close to the body in any case.
 These two photos show the inside front of the body of the dress with the stitched waist tucks.
In the close up you can also see the stitching which tacks the bow in place.

 This is the slight flange edge of the sleeve, almost just a facing which peeks out.  It's widest at the top, narrowing to nothing at the side seam. 
You can see inside that it is also a bias strip, but of the fashion fabric.

Finally, you can see that the extra-long invisible zipper opens the entire length of the side seam.  I really have learned that this is not too long a zipper for a dress like this.  It makes it so much easier to put on, and without spoiling one's hair or makeup.