Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Sewing Holiday

Rosen by Ferdinand Georg Waldmuller, Austria 1843

Isn't this art amazing? The artist was born in the 1700s. The metal vases are painted in great detail with reflections and embossing. The roses are ready to shed a few of their petals. Beautiful.

I have always wanted a day to do exactly as I liked, so the day before Christmas I sewed, and completed another Mother-Daughter dress set from cotton flannel. The clear buttons have a silver backing, which make them look like jewels. Mother and daughter looked like special princesses with their dark hair and white dresses.
The fabric store is not within a convenient distance, so when there was not enough fabric for the ladies dress, I had to piece the bodices . I did this by sewing equal amounts of fabric scraps on two pieces and then placing the pattern on the fabric and cutting it. If you are interested in making pieced fabric for sewing clothes, it is not actually necessary to have matching pieces. One side of the bodice or skirt can be different than the other.
Small pieces on the sides under the sleeves.
A matching doll dress would have been nice but every scrap of white flannel was used, so today, I made this doll with muslin. It is made like the old fashioned handkerchief dolls which do not require stitching. The head is stuffed with polyester fiberfill and tied with string. The hands are also tied with string. I hot-glued the hair and bonnet and drew the face with markers.
I machine stitched a border of eyelet lace on the hem of the dress. The bonnet is a piece of the eyelet gathered lace, tied with ribbon under the chin.

This doll is made for a girl's bed, and is placed on top of the bedspread after the bed is made. I have painted the face of the doll and applied some clear matte decoupage. The hair is a skein of brown embroidery thread, cut to make long hair hanging over the sleeves, glued with hot glue.

You can also make a boy-doll with this tying method, by tying the fabric into trousers. Here is a tutorial for pioneer handkerchief dolls


I received a lot of buttons for Christmas, and a new blanket, which would be considered a "throw" or lap cover. While in a store with my husband last week I touched it and remarked how soft it was. This morning the blanket was on my bed. It is the one in the picture with the doll I just made.

The mood of the season is lovely and it reminds me how important it is to apply a good mood in every season, and not just times of celebration. It can be tempting to be discontent when there are no events to look forward to or when there is no particular drama in one's life. To train the mind and the moods to be stable and inwardly happy in whatever gloomy weather or bad news there is, is quite an accomplishment. For many people, it takes a lifetime to learn, but I believe the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7 (three chapters), when carefully considered, teach how to regulate moods. It show us what to think and how to respond.

There does not have to be a big let-down after a holiday. Each day is a special day, in my opinion, and can be memorable, depending on what is done with it.

If you ever need to see more cheerful faces in your life, try making a doll with a smile.



Monday, December 23, 2013

Card Sharing

A Rosy Little Christmas by Susan Rios

If you go to the Susan Rios Designs site, you can click on this painting for a much larger view.

Today I am sharing a couple of Christmas cards. There is no artist cited anywhere on the back of the card. I like this one because the design and decor idea could be used year round.

The roses make this tree very soft and attractive; comfortable.

This is a card with the teacup put on 3-d tape.

I finished the mother and daughter dresses from the flannel. They do not look as good on the hanger..they are wrinkled like the picture shows. The camera shows two different shades but in reality the fabric is the lighter color. It is a high quality cotton flannel with a bit of a sheen to it like polished cottons, and is very smooth to the touch.


These dresses look very elegant on the models, but the photographs do not give them justice.

Close view of the girls buttons.

I used the large buttons for the mother dress and the small ones for the daughter dress. They matched the snowflakes in the fabric print.

I hope this brightened your day.



Sunday, December 22, 2013

An Inn At Home


Someone asked me today to tell them what I would like to do in this season that would be restful. I would like to go to take tea at an inn somewhere One evening.

Since I could not go to an inn, I decided to create a few elements of an Inn, here at home.

In my mail box was this velvet heart that someone sent men there was no letter and no explanation, but I sure liked the way this ornament looked on one of my plates.

This card had such a homey scene I want to share it. There is no artist mentioned. It tells a story of home traditions.
Here is another house tour scene. Above you see part of a room which is a cozy seating area, with the little skates on the wall that I made from felt and metallic paper,

...and here is close view of ornaments on a gold and white tree.

I finished two of the dresses made from that good-quality blue fabric with snowflake print and will try to post pictures soon.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Dressed Window

When I speak of window-dressing, physically or metaphorically, most people do not even know what I mean. There was an era where windows of shops were dressed with displays and lights all year round, so that even when the shops were closed at night, people enjoyed walking in town and looking at the windows displays. It is rare to find a window display, but today I found one in the nearby town. It has been done in reds and whites and it looks oh-so-nice and gave me such a lift that when I got home I began making my own place more presentable. When I get time I will get pictures for a continuing house tour. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy looking at this shop window.

I like the way the milk glass is displayed in this shelf. I can remember when these pieces were so common, you could even find them in the cheap stores. Now, they are antique treasures. I like the sparkly snowflake sitting in the white footed dish.

The pretty bag comes in all colors and has a matching wallet. There were lots of them inside the shop.

Click for a closer view.

That is a lovely milk-glass pitcher on the top of the shelf,

and I like the painted hat boxes, in this picture. These are things that I cannot actually use and would not be very practical in my small house, so I enjoying seeing them on display. I do think I could use the hat boxes though.

Now I would like to talk about something that I have had several requests for: How do you enjoy life at home if you do not feel you can do anything, like sewing or have tea with grandchildren, until you have the housework done? I will not have time to write a long explanation, so I will tell you what I do. Everyone has to adjust to their own circumstances.

Whenever I wake up very early and can't get back to sleep, I get up and get the house in order. Housework seems to pass more easily and quickly early in the morning than late at night. Having the work done early means I have more time to go out on errands and essential shopping before the day ends. It also leaves plenty of time for a more leisurely afternoon to do other things besides keeping house.

I read in Grandma's diary that she "did up the work" and then went into town, however, I found that I could not follow that because it took the better part of the day for me to get my work done, which included meals, dishes, laundry, straightening things up, making the bed, getting mail ready to send, and sweeping the floor. Just getting myself ready to go out took some time. So now days I do what I like first, and leave the housework for later.

My housekeeping takes such a huge part of the day that it would be 4 pm before I could play with a child or have a sewing project or take someone to tea, so on days that I want to do these enriching things, I do them first, and tackle my housework last. It often happens that the leisure reading I do or the visits with a friend can inspire me at home and I can get my housework done quite efficiently afterwards.

There have been a few times when I left my housework to visit someone, and her home was so well kept that I could hardly wait to get home and get my house as polished and homey as the home of my hostess.

My recent trip to see the store window dressing made me realize I need to clean out my china cabinet and see what I have, discard what is cracked or chipped, and display it differently, and also impressed upon me the necessity of repainting the cabinet. If I had cleaned it out before I went out to get my shopping done, it would have taken too long. This way, I got a fresh idea and was more interested in doing it.

There are those homemakers who like to have the house cleaned up before sitting down to sew or have tea with someone or to write a letter. It is hard to relax when there is chaos around you and when things are tumbling out of the coat closet.

I would suggest you list three of the most important housekeeping items you absolutely must so, and then add a fourth thing on the list for motivation: a project that interest you such as painting or baking or rearranging or sewing. Just plan on one small leisure thing each day and include it in yiur schedule. It might inspire you to get up a little earlier to indulge in a favorite thing, or to get yiur housework out of the way so you can have more hours for extra things.

If these ideas do not work with you, just clear a space adequate enough to do what you want, and then clean house when it is most convenient for you.










Thursday, December 19, 2013

Window Shopping

Roses and Tea

Yesterday I went window-shopping in the older section of a town some distance away. Do proprietors dress up their windows anymore? I remember when sales personnel used to take courses in window dressing or go to window-dressing schools. I can find no record of it on the web, so I am relying on my own memory and that of other people who have told about it.

Having beautiful displays was so important. Now, though, the windows are not used to their best advantage, and often all that shows is the back label of cans of paint or the back of a store shelf. The window is so important for attracting customers, it is sad that there is almost no window shopping in our towns. I remember how we used to look forward to seasonal window shopping.

There were some good window displays. One of the shops had some interesting tree displays, including colorful birds, and vintage ornaments, but the most striking tree display was the one with peacock ornaments.

I saw the metal boxes inside the store. They were very light weight and I especially liked the round tins stacked in graduated sizes. They were not at all expensive.

Peacock decor was very attractive. When I got home I searched for ways to make peacock feathers from paper, and found quite a few sites with instructions and videos.

The white peacocks were so sparkly and just right for this season.

This is a close-up of a couple of the pastry ornaments.

Another tree in the shop was laden with art supply ornaments. I think this little palette ornament could be made with cardboard. I made a pattern for a palette card a few years ago, and it is on this blog somewhere.

Look at the middle of the above picture to see a peacock nice.

There were many of these brightly colored peacocks that had clips on them for hanging.

The shop had some very interesting picture frames. This is one I liked, in the peacock color theme.
There's that pretty white peacock again, sitting near a candle holder in peacock colors.
Isn't this one nice? One would not have to store these eleven months out of the year, as they are so pretty they could be displayed all year.

When I got home I got out my batch of flannel fabric that I plan to make winter dresses from. This is a good quality fabric I purchased at Walmart awhile ago, and found the buttons there also, which I thought looked like the snowflake print on the fabric. I hope to get this sewn and then post the pictures in the near future. It is always motivating to get the daily housework done early and quickly if I am excited about something I want to make, so this is tomorrow's hopeful.



This is a new herbal tea from Twinings, a light, subtle flavor called Winter Spice,

...which was good for a few minutes of evening tea

...taken while seated in front of the fireplace.
I rescued a few things from my sale for this tray picture...the yard sale to come.

To continue with the subject of the sacredness of the home, I was mulling over this on my way home, and thought of an instant formula for establishing the sanctity of the home. I believe that bad manners ruin more relationships than anything, for bad manners are a symptom of disloyalty and thoughtlessness.

Once disloyalty has taken root, people will attempt to smash all contentment and domestic happiness. In response to such outrageous rudeness, my formula is simple. It will work at home, on the phone, in church, and in business: Be careful of what you say. Be sure the words that are addressed to family members are building-up words. Watch about complaining or criticizing.

When I was growing up, whenever rude things escaped the children's lips to their siblings or parents, my mother would ask the question: "My dear, would you speak so rudely to an employee where you shop, or to the preacher at church, the church members, or to a peace officer? Would you say something so disrespectful to a guest? How long would your job last, if you insulted other employees, or worse, your employer, with such words?" This should cause us all to think very seriously and ponder the impact of rudeness.

What words would promote the most harmony without going against your values in the home?

Such thoughts are too deep for some people, but most, I believe, will get the meaning, and that is, show no less courtesy in the home than you would in business. Pause and think how rudeness chases away customers and can cause the downfall of a business and the loss of income for a person, and then translate it to the home. Rudeness can blight a happy day at home.

As children, we were taught not to spread our foul moods all around the house and make the family members suffer. We had to either live in harmony with others or take our bad mood away to a quiet place til we had gotten over it. We never felt free to say outrageous things or express resentment.

Today the prevailing culture does not support the practice of keeping bad thoughts to yourself. It encourages speaking your mind about things that can "put a bad taste into someone's mouth," an expression that means you can really sour someone's experience, so that they distance themselves, not wanting to repeat the uproar in the future.

One way to watch the words is to choose what you will or will not respond to. Calculate where the conversation might lead, and if it could possibly be a set-up that will give you a lot of stress, dismiss it and go on to something positive that will build up others and yourself.

Be aware that there are some people who employ the tactic of being sweet erstwhile sneakily wrecking your home life. We can pursue that subject another time. Meanwhile, it is good to develop wisdom about the things that troublemakers do. The book of Proverbs is valuable as a study of human behavior, for in contrasts love and hate, sincerity and mocking, and shows the character qualities of people who are faithful and loyal in comparison to those who are are untrue.

Proverbs 3 shows that acquiring wisdom and understanding produces pleasantness:

Pro 3:17    Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.

Those who trouble their own homes lack the qualities of wisdom and understanding and need to diligently study and learn them and practice them. Without this, a person cannot be pleasant and content.