Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gathered or Ruffled Tablecloth

I have posted this picture because it is so similar to a house in Texas that I lived in, on a rural route. We called it a miniature southern colonial style. From the inside, were views that could be enjoyed at various times of the day. The kitchen had a morning view where the light showed off a magnificent rose-of-Sharon blooming tree.

The west side of the house was where the evening view was seen of colorful sunsets, and the north and south sides had windows where I could just imagine the original owner and builder of the house looking out at the old farm gate and the dewberry blossoms.

These days people are particular about things, enough to take a picture of something as minute as the painted flower on a teacup or the tapestry design on a pillow, but I did not even take one photograph of the inside of the house or the views seen through the windows. You can read a more detailed description of this house on Lillibeth's blog.

The house was not very updated inside but it never bothered me because there were so many thoughtful features in it. This is the place that turned out to be the source of many pleasant memories for us. For one thing, it was not so new and grand inside that it required better furniture, and all the odds and end pieces I owned worked perfectly in the nooks and crannies. A table for a desk in front of the north window was perfect for art or letters, and an old rocker by another window gave enough light behind the shoulders for an afternoon of reading.

Several days ago I actually finished making a couple of things, but it seems to take me such a long time to get the pictures taken. By the time I have done the normal amount of housekeeping, i.e. meals, kitchen clean-up, beds, bathrooms, sweeping, any errands away from home, and all the other things on my list, the light has faded and my time is gone.
This is a ruffled tablecloth, requested by a reader. There are many ways to do this, and you can find tutorials and instructions online. The fabric stores now have pre-ruffled fabrics, with several rows of ruffles, so you can do this without the trouble of gathering it yourself. I was able to buy a bolt of white muslin and it is the loveliest fabric. It is such a favorite of mine that I call it my homespun silk.
These are fabric pastries just made with a circle of cloth, gathered up with a running stitch, filled with fiber-fill and painted with polymer or scribbles puff-paints. When the paint dries it remains shiny and puffy. I have spritzed a little vanilla scent on the inside of these before gathering the fabric.

I am using a cake-stand for demonstration because it is easier to get pictures of a small tablecloth.

To make this, place a plate or cake stand on the cloth and trace around it with a pencil. Remove the plate and cut out the circle, but not on the line. Cut it bigger to make a seam allowance.

If you are making this for a full-size table, lay the fabric on top of the table and draw the circle around the table-top with chalk, on to the fabric. Remember to cut it a little extra to make a seam allowance. A half inch or more should be fine.

Measure the circle approximately with a measuring tape. More length is better than a perfectly tight measurement.
Fold the circle in half, then fold in half again, as you see, above. With a pencil or chalk, mark all four folds.
Open up the circle to see the four marks.
Now you need to hold fabric from the edge of the table to the floor, and make a mark to determine the length. It does not have to be as long as the ones I made.

It can have a much shorter ruffle if you like, and you might need to make it short enough to be able to push the chairs close to the table, a very long tablecloth will be difficult for guests to sit with. I have made my long table cloths for side tables where I am trying to cover the legs.

Take the amount you measured with the measuring tape around the circle and cut three times the amount of fabric to make the ruffle. You may need to sew some sections together to make one long ruffle piece.
Then iron down a fourth inch on the long edge of the piece, for a hem.

Turn the raw edges under one more time and press with a hot steam iron again. The frayed edges should be tucked under so that it looks nicely finished, above. Stitch on your machine, making sure to back-stitch at the start and finish

Fold your long strip twice, into fourths, and mark each section with pencil, just as you did the circle. Sew the strip together at the ends to make a continuous piece. Stitch one of the raw edges one half inch with a long, loose running stitch, because you will be inserting a straight pin under the stitching to pull it into a gather.
Pin all the marks of the circle to all the marks of the strip and pin them with the wrong sides facing you and the right side down. The right side is the one that does not show the unfinished seams.
Gather up each section of the strip of fabric to fit the quarter section of the circle, pulling up the loose stitches to fit. When each section is finished and pinned, it should look like this, above. The pins should be on top while you machine stitch this.
Keep your right hand under the circle as you stitch, to keep it smooth and flat and keep it from being caught and wrinkled in the machine. Stitch for a few inches, pulling out the pins and placing them in the pincushion as you go. Stop every few inches and adjust the fabric, smoothing the piece underneath and straightening out the edges. It is easy to get an edge folded back and caught in the stitching, and you will have to prevent that. If it happens , you have to unpick it and start again from where you left off.
I am making a doll table cloth just to make it an easier project, and if you have never made a ruffled table cloth before I would suggest you do a doll furniture tablecloth first.
This is what the right side looks like after the project is finished. You can use it for other things such as a cloth under a lamp.

Here it is on the cake-stand pedestal, used as a doll table.
I made a larger one for a tea table, also used as an end-table in my living room.
Wanderer Abobe the Sea of Fog, by Casper Frederick, German 1774-1840
Today I would like to talk about the subject of meekness. Many people have misunderstood the characteristic of meekness to mean weakness, but it means "strength under control." when Jesus said "Blessed are the meek," he was not referring to the weak, no-backbone, no understanding, no wisdom, tossed by every wind of doctrine type of person.
The meek are people with beliefs and standards that they practice. They can be firm and decisive and they can say "no" to things that are not wise, and "yes" to things that are good and not be intimidated. The meek honor strong values and do not have fluctuating, moody personalities.
I chose the painting, above, because it looks like a man who is self-contained, facing the tumult of waves on the shore where he is standing, obviously in stark contrast to Xerxes lashing the sea!
I enjoy meek people because they are strong and somehow, I can depend on them to be "the same" every time I talk to them. They stay the person they are meant to be, adding virtues as they go but never abandoning good sense. Underneath the gentleness, a meek person is strong.

Strength under control is an amazing attribute to acquire. It can be practiced by determining something to do and carrying it through, refusing to allow discouragement. Control the discouragement and carry on. Use any discouragement as a signal to press on. However, if you get too angry, you use up some of the strength you need to achieve your goals. So put that energy toward your interests and your purpose, instead: meekness means not easily provoked or irritated, forbearance under provocations. It is like the stiff upper lip, opposed to the trembling one. Meekness is strength under control.

It is sad that people perceive meekness as being a push-over, because that is not what it is. Military trainees have to learn it and so do people who run successful businesses. We have a culture around us that thinks we should all be breaking down at the slightest provocation, instead of bearing up. Meekness is "calm strength" that somehow provides comfort and confidence to others.
The New Testament refers to the Christian life as a battle, and the first battle is the one inside yourself to attain the quality of meekness. It is interesting in the fruits of the spirit in Galations 5:22,23 that meekness is in a list of other desire able qualities. In the list, one quality might lead to another.
I welcome your thoughts about meekness and how it serves you in your home.



Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Musings

Lady in White Reading By: Emilie Caroline Mundt
Yesterday afternoon I spent some time making this decorative dress form for a doll dress. I had seen dress forms in antique stores that were covered in pretty fabrics and decoupaged in shabby chic style prints and papers, so I wanted to make something like it.
I have also seen these craft dress forms that are merely decorative, but did not want to pay the price. I saw one at Goodwill, but while I hesitated, someone else bought it. I decided to try my hand at making one, just for fun.
A few weeks ago some of the crafty bloggers participated in a link-up to show all their ideas of what to do with a dollar store glass candle holder, and this is one of the things I used it for, even though I did not link up. It made a good stand for the dress form.
I covered the dress-form in fabric, using white glue and then painting over it again with white glue. It could also be decoupaged.
To make the bottle stick securely to the glad candlestick, glue a piece of paper or card stock to the bottom of the bottle and the. Use tacky glue or hot glue to attach it to the candle stick. The bare plastic of the bottle does not stick well unless it has paper on it.
This detergent also comes from the dollar store, and the empty bottle serves as my miniature dress-form.
The top of the detergent bottle resembles the hardware on top of the antique dress forms.

This is an antique dress-form, used to get a good fit when making clothes. To make the miniature dress-form, I used an empty detergent bottle. First, I traced on fabric around it to get the shape, adding a few inches to wrap around the bottle, making clips in the fabric to fit it. Then, I painted the bottle with liquid glue and pressed the fabric on to it. I had a front and back piece.

My first attempt was using scrapbook ing papers with white liquid glued such as as school glue or Elmer's. It would not be necessary to cover the bottle at all, but I liked the look of it.
Before I determined what kind of dress to make, I roughly sketched a few possibilities, as you see, above, but then made something completely different.

I am not the only one with this idea. After I finished the project I did a search for images using detergent bottles, and there were a lot of people already using these materials, but this is my version.
Using a small amount of white muslin and some narrow lace, I sewed a 1910 garden party dress for the dress form. I now have the dress form sitting on a shelf in my sewing room.
This is the pattern I used, but a pattern is not necessary if you want to cut and drape and tie the garment with ribbons.
This was quite a bit of work, and had some difficult corners and things to stitch on in small places so I would not recommend it to an impatient sewer.
As I was assembling this pretty shabby project, I was thinking about a hymn we sang yesterday in church. As you know, no one could get their cars out of their snowed-in driveways last Lord's Day, and the meeting house was cold and dark, with no electric, so there were only two families there. This Sunday the whole congregation was present and, after the previous quiet Sunday in the snow, the worship sounded very loud, like a great throng of angels.
One of the songs was "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning." This is a song alluding to a light house that beams brightly in the darkness. While there is an upper light that is very string, there are lower lights that are cast across the ocean to guide the ships to shore. The song says that people are the lower lights that guide struggling people to safety.
Ladies who labor at home seemingly doing the same things over and over, occasionally creating some little thing, may wonder if anyone cares or notices, or if it will amount to anything in the long run. I don't think they know how much of an impact their home activities have on the world around them. The family may not appear to notice, but they know there is so,etching different at home, that is more stable than the world. It is a combination of order, beauty, and comfort that makes it so.
Just being there and being who you are with the love you feel for your home sends a message and sends a beam across the wave. You do not have to be accomplishing a lot and you do not have to be an expert in everything. You just have to be there caring for things that pertain to a happy home.
Some of these little things I show on my blog do not matter at all in the scheme of things, but they satisfy my need to sit down and create. So even if you do not think anyone will care, do something that pleases you and makes your home more enjoyable to be in. It is a small reward for the work you do to make a home.
The song says that God's light is very bright from his lighthouse, but to us, he gives the job of keeping the lights along the shore. The lower lights are for people who are closer to home, to guide them to safety. The higher lights on the lighthouse are for those afar off to show them where the land is.
Your light sends its rays across to the people you know, and some you do not, and straight to the ones you serve daily.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Special Day For Everyone

Please click on for a larger view.
Yesterday 7 ladies visited for lunch and endless cups of tea. We had an interesting gift exchange called "I-Don't-Want-it-Anymore." The ladies were ultra-polite and no one would volunteer to pick first. Everyone wanted to let all others go first and be last.
We did manage not to out-polite each other too much and eventually ladies took home the thing they liked best. I forgot to take a photo of the collection of items in the basket. There were hand crocheted trivits and homemade jellies, candles in very pretty frosted/etched jars, hand sewn aprons, and issues of tea-time magazine.
We studied the love of God from the Bible and sang the hymn "The Love of God." I found it on YouTube here.

Although I did not get time to send out any Valentine cards, I wanted to make a special one for all my readers and show you how to make one that is not too complicated. We all have homes to look after and people that constantly need us, so simple projects are the best.

You can get these paper hearts at the dollar stores in white, pink and red.Glue them on to paper or card stock in a contrasting color so that it shows through the lace nicely.

Try a white backing with red hearts and a red backing with white hearts, for contrast. Then add whatever clip-art you have on hand, placing all the do-dads in a balanced way.

I used some glittered foam hearts that have sticky backing, and some stick-on paper flowers. Since the word "love" is embossed on these lace doilies, I filled the word with a coordinating color felt pen.

Find ribbon or string and tie it through punched holes. I used something called metallic cord, found in fabric stores.

Another thing I found at the dollar store was packages of ruffled fabric chiffon hearts in red and pink. I thought it might easy to use them to make a Valentine necklace, using the cord, tied in a bow at the back.
To make this easy necklace, peel off the paper on the back of each heart and stick the heart on the chord.

Then turn the necklace over and re-stick the dots of paper you peeled off, to secure the heart and keep the extra sticky areas covered. You can hand stitch these if you like.


Hearts are a year-round favorite and there is no reason that something like this could not be given to someone any time. In the U.S. , Valentines day is for everyone and we use it as an opportunity to express sentiment in special ways, from the making of special tea parties or meals, to giving pretty things to children, friends and family.

While I was putting these things together I was thinking how important courtesy is in making life tolerable and enjoyable even in difficulties. Some people say that the Bible has nothing to say about etiquette or polite manners, but a big part of the teachings of Christ are about treating others with love. That is the essence of courtesy.

Sometimes people imply that niceties are trivial and affectatious or insincere and ridiculous, but even polite small talk has its place, as it keeps temperaments level and eases tense moments. When we are without power for heat and light, it is essential to put on our best manners because it makes the situation more tolerable.

When funds are low and the future is uncertain, you can still have your good nature and your politeness. In hard times, a sweet disposition is worth a lot.Looking after the comfort of others naturally makes us forget ourselves. In inclement weather or times of upheaval, statements like, "things will get better soon" and "can I bring you anything to make you more comfortable?" are so important. It keeps your mind off misery and focuses on making things better.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Bright Spot at Home

I was so happy to have power in the house, that instead of celebrating by washing dishes and vacuuming and doing laundry, I ignored it all and spent the morning making this heart pillow from one of my favorite fabrics, a soft chenille look-alike called Minky.
I was not sure if I would like too much of this color, so I only bought half a yard of this fabric. This pillow took the entire half-yard, leaving a few slender scraps. The cost for the fabric was $3.75 and the stuffing was approximately $1.00 or more, so the total project including thread possibly cost about $5.00.
With Grandma's white cotton chenille bedspread draped over the wingback easy chair, this pillow certainly brightened up my sitting room, and just in time, for tomorrow the Ladies Bible class will be here for lunch and a gift-exchange.

This year we are continuing in our new tradition of donating something you do not want anymore, that you think some other lady might like to have. We do not wrap anything, but put it all in a basket and let each lady choose what she likes.
Last year, everyone was completely thrilled with their gifts, and this is the one I got:
The new cushion is very soft, and this is what it looks like on the chair:

If you have limited time, and you are not an experienced stitcher, I do not recommend this project, but I will briefly explain how it is made. On a scale between one and ten, its a ten in difficulty! Minky is not as easy to sew with as cotton, when creating gathers or layers of fabric.

I first cut out a pattern of a heart from a brown paper grocery bag.

Then I cut long strips enough for gathering, about two and a half times longer than the size of the pillow.

Join the short ends to make one long strip, and join it in a complete circle.

Then fold it and stitch both sides together, right side facing you. After that is pinning it around on pillow piece in pleats, and then stitching down, removing pins as you use the machine. Sew the back on to that, then stuff, and last, stitch the opening shut. You can get more detailed instructions on you tube and tutorials everywhere. Due to the time this took, I probably will not be making another one. I started it early in the morning and finished it at noon. I am still happy with the results, and I made a rose by wrapping thread around part of the ruffle, and attaching leaves from green fleece fabric.

I rarely get anything completed in time to join linky parties, but today I am in time to join Shabbilicious


I wanted to mention something about negative thinking and how harmful it is. It can become a debilitating habit that will slow down your progress and keep you from following through with your duty as a Christian woman, and also limit your dreams and goals.

Saying that it is too late or too hard, or letting the gloomy moods of others prevent you from doing good things and improving your home and the lives of those around you, is very bad food for your mind. Negative thoughts can be poison for your mind and create stress on your body. Practice mentally substituting good thoughts, and you can successfully learn to think on the bright side of life.

Just as you probably would not eat anything rotten or unappetizing, guard the thoughts that enter your mind, and think on things that are lovely. (Philippians 4:8-9). We often hear people quote verse 8, but have you ever thought about verse 9? It is like a tag along promise.

If you think of each day as a precious gift in a very swiftly passing life, it is easier to be motivated to make the best of a day, make progress in some area and serve God with all your heart.


Monday, February 10, 2014

These Happy Winter Days


Ice is forming on top of the snow.
We are snowed-in, and that means getting very resourceful with time and energy and supplies at home. It is not possible to do the laundry or wash dishes, run the sweeper or cook. There is unlimited time to do things, as long as they do not require running water or electricity, so today I made two Valentines. The light is limited also. I have been using tea-light candles in jars in the evening, which adds a little heat.

This one is a heart surrounded by pink pleated crepe paper streamer and topped with a foam glittered heart. I have used a glue pen to make an outline for fine pink glitter.

This white heart, also backed with ruffled crepe paper, is something I have been formulating in my mind for several weeks. I was in the mood to make something white and bright and simple, yet soft-looking. so I again used the glue pen and very fine white glitter, finished with a piece of clip-art from my box of scraps.
Here is what they both look like on a magnetic bulletin board. I have made loops from the card stock for hanging.

One of my earliest memories of using fabric is wrapping pieces of it around dolls and tying with scraps to make a garment. Here I have used the same technique with fleece to make a doll cape to match mother-daughter capes I have made this week. Most of the pictures of the people-capes did not turn out well enough to post because my models looked like apparitions in the fog and snow, but here is what the capes looked like from the side:

Each cape has a white rose on the hood, sewn from the same fabric.

When I last visited the fabric store there were a lot of Valentine themed items, including a pretty pink dish towel. I was able to imitate it with a dollar store hand towel, tinted with a few drops of liquid rit dye, and a piece of lace from a discount catalog.

We finally got the car out of the snow and went to pizza place to get a meal with a salad and connect to the internet. I will still have to return home and be without heat and water but it is a nice break from winter hardship to come into town and thaw out. I am sure it is time to equip our house with a couple of generators and a gas fireplace and gas cook stove. We are getting too old for this kind of roughing-it!

This is a scene of our church meeting-house from one of the windows of our home. This Lord's Day, the only people who were able to come were those who lived close enough to walk, so our family and one neighbor family attended. Because there was no heat, my husband decided to keep the sermon short and serve communion and not allow people to get too cold, especially since some of them were small children.

While my children were growing up, I always let them have pencil and paper during the sermon, to keep them quiet. Our grandchildren carry on the tradition. This time, though, one of the children was rather stunned when the meeting was dismissed. She said, "Papa didn't even have a proper sermon! It was not long enough for me to even finish drawing a face!"





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