Lessons I Learned From My Mother-In-Law

Leonor, 93 years young

One of the few pictures of all of the kids

One of the few pictures of all of the kids.  Oldest to youngest age range is about 24 years.

My mother-in-law recently passed away and it has been a sad time for my husband’s family.¬† ¬†A long life spanning 95 years, a marriage of 50+ years and 13 children.¬† She was a strong woman to say the least (how can you NOT be after raising 13 children??)¬† I happen to be married to the baby of the family, so many stories were shared on various occasions about the antics that happened their household.¬† ¬†Family events were Leonor’s absolute favorite thing in the world and the more chatter the better.¬† Gatherings soothed her soul and brought her back to health many times.¬† The following are some things I learned about her and other things I learned from her.

  • Go to church (many in the family did not share her faith, but it didn’t stop her from trying).
  • Say prayers before meals.
  • Keep the conversation clean
  • Be respectful and polite
  • Stand up for yourself
  • Be a good spouse
  • Know how to cook, clean and work hard

‘Mom’, as I was encouraged to call her, was always dear to me.¬† My husband often said she liked me better than she liked him and when he said that, she didn’t disagree, just smiled.

We shared the love of sewing and I was always grateful¬†for that connection.¬†¬†She was resourceful and creative and had many ‘life hacks’ before they were cool.

Marriage and Parenting
Since I was a single mother for years, I often wondered how she kept the upper hand with a wild bunch of kids – some twice her size.¬†¬†She had shared that the trick to keeping a marriage strong was by building a house together¬† – one brick at a time and that meant making the bricks by hand.¬† ¬†Sharing a common faith with¬†her¬†husband¬†and having¬†similar values worked like a fine oiled machine to raise all of those kids.¬† Discipline was used, but the ground rules had been set way before the crime.¬† My husband said he deserved the punishments he received.¬† ¬† There was never a question of whether or not the children were loved.¬† She never stopped parenting and didn’t spare the guilt.¬† I remember my husband telling a off-color joke to his siblings and she leaned over and said he should ‘talk about something else’.¬† She had ‘The Look’ that could make a grown man cower if he was behaving badly, so everyone avoided receiving that kind of stare!

Daily Life

There was an abundance of love for her children and all of their friends.¬† If you found yourself in the house around dinner time, she would lovingly say something like, ” Call your mom and ask if you can stay for dinner.¬† Set the table, grab a plate, or go home.¬† The food is hot.”¬† Yes ma’am.¬† Straight up and direct communication was her style.

Beans and tortillas filled the hollow legs of growing boys and girls, and all of the kids took turns preparing meals, doing laundry and outside chores.  Hard work was instilled from a very young age, and teamwork was essential.   She was active in church and school to do her part and stay in touch with her community and neighbors.

A beautiful floral arrangement sent by a friend after hearing about the loss of my husband’s mother.

Marriage and Parenting

With 13 children comes many personalities and a fierce competition to be noticed and heard.¬† No wall flowers here!¬† It was encouraged to have an opinion and stand up for one’s self.¬† The word ‘spirited’ comes to mind which also brings my children to mind.¬† ¬†Differences of opinion were inevitable, but arguing was not allowed.¬† The current climate in the world right now is to assert yourself and stand up for what you believe in.¬† However, this is not always well received.¬† Differing opinions often push buttons and trigger arguments.¬† Leonor wanted respectful banter but no mean-spirited dialogue.¬† The struggle was (and is) real for many families who strive to respectfully get along and yet maintain individuality.¬† The baton has been passed to the next generation to execute this delicate balance of agreeing to disagree and still want to be around one another.

I will miss her presence and her unspoken ability to command a room.¬† I will miss her ‘God bless you’ right before we left the house because she believed it offered protection.¬† I will miss her feisty nature like here in the picture when she grabbed a wine glass and pretended to drink it.¬† She wasn’t allowed due to her diet restrictions, but always had a mischievous twinkle in her eye.¬† She made me laugh on many occasions.

Here being feisty pretending to take a drink

Pretending to take a drink just to be provocative

Near the end, she had some daily pain but her focus was on the people around her.  She was cared for by her children and we all rotated in throughout the week to provide a meal, visit, take her to church or run errands.   Food had always been a joy for her, so my husband and I would carefully plan a tasty meal and anticipate her cleared plate.  It was a simple pleasure we were happy to provide.

As a daughter-in-law, I do not claim to have the complete picture of who Leonor was as a woman, mother, wife and neighbor, but I have benefited greatly from what she stood for, instilled and modeled.
You are loved and will be missed.

London: Summer Travel Wardrobe

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

The Packing Challenges:

As the London departure date was fast approaching, I had to pack something for my trip…. for thirteen days…in the summer…and in a carry on. ¬†Okay, so London is typically rainy. ¬†Even in the summer. ¬†Easy. Just pack what should be London-wear.

Guess what? No rain and sweltering heat instead.  Actually, any travel location can leave you staring into your suitcase wishing you had packed different items.

I only used my umbrella once and that was to block the sun from my dewy brow. ¬†Looking back, ¬†packing the umbrella wasted valuable suitcase space. ¬† I rolled, ‘cubed-packed’, stuffed and crammed. ¬† It will be fine….traveling from late June to the beginning of July should¬†be better than Tucson in the summer, right?

So what did I do? ¬†Packed LAYERS. ¬†Living in a hotter climate and being sensitive to the heat, I’m usually a one layer gal….maybe two if it is cool in the morning and night. ¬†¬†I gathered a collection of thin long sleeved tees, camisoles and tees to provide options. ¬†If the temps were warm or hot, I knew I wouldn’t want to lug around a coat while walking, on the Tube, or in a taxi = dewy brow for Dana.
Below is the (clickable) photo gallery of clothing and accessories I sewed, bought, or made for the trip.

*Camisoles in white and tan, not shown.

As you can see, my color scheme was white, tan, bronze, gray, black, chambray blue, and olive green.   Everything was neutral and could be mixed and matched to be worn together.   I ended up wearing everything but the black merino sweater and the Jacket in a Pocket.   I was still too warm overall but enjoyed wearing my newly made vest for a few cool mornings.

Enjoying London with Mom

Enjoying London with Mom. ¬†Crossbody bag from Kohl’s.

Other Preparations:
1.)  I packed and weighed my rolling bag to the 22 pound international airline limit.  Turns out, nobody cared!   Maybe I was just lucky.

Headed to the airport

Headed to the airport

2.)  Toiletries were simple when packed in zip top bags.  Not glamorous, but effective. I had all of the liquids in one (upper right) and the remaining three bags contained all other essentials.

Toiletries divided up in four 1 quart bags

Toiletries divided up in four 1 quart bags

3.)  Self-packed snacks of trail mix and string cheese.   Sharing these with my mom helped stave off hunger at the airport, on the plane,  and in our hotel room.   Another benefit as we ate them was the extra space they afforded for packing souveniers.

4.) Empty water bottle.  I packed an inexpensive one that clipped to the side of my bag.  It was convenient to have for post-security.  The opening was big enough to fill with ice cubes, which I love in my drinks.


What I brought on the plane:
-My rolling suitcase carry on measured 22″ x 14″ x 9″. ¬†It is a older Samsonite from Costco. Here is something similar.
-The under the seat ECOSUSI carry on from Amazon measured 18″W x 8″H x 11″L. ¬†This was a lifesaver bag! ¬†I LOVED the sleeve on the back to slide over the telescope handle of my rolling bag.
-Neck pillow was a MUST since I want the option to sleep on the plane as much as possible.

Most important items I packed: ¬†Padded inserts for shoes. I thought my shoes were comfortable before I left, but the padded inserts from Dr. Scholl’s were invaluable! My handy little Fitbit clocked in over 20K steps one day, so I’m glad I had extra cushion.

Second most important item: Portable battery charger  There is nothing like the horrible feeling of being lost and having a dead phone.  If needed, I could charge my phone in my purse quickly when relying on Google Maps and the Citymapper App. (Available for Android and Apple).
Third most important item: The Yubi Voltage Power Converter.  This was used every day after returning to the hotel to charge up the extra batteries.  It was a bit overkill for this trip, but we hope to use it for other trips in the future.

Fourth most important item:  Olive green anorak jacket.  This is still one of my favorite makes.  It was a great coat to have on the plane to keep warm and use as a pillow.

What I would have packed instead: ¬†Cotton or rayon dress or skirt that could have been worn with comfortable walking shoes or sandals. ¬†I’m not sure I have ANY sandals that could have passed the 20K-steps-a-day test, but in hindsight, I would have begged, borrowed or stole for a pair.

What worked and why: ¬†Tees and camisoles! ¬†They saved me. ¬†I’m so glad I threw a few in my bag at the last minute.

Biggest lessons learned:

1.) ¬†I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that it was the too-big-for-my-phone recommended SD storage card. ¬† To allow for videos and tons of pictures, we wanted a new SD card. ¬†We were misinformed by the phone salesperson where we bought the new phone and should have double checked. ¬†I didn’t figure it out until a few days into the trip. ¬† I was happily clicking away, a few pictures were stored, but the phone was not capturing any future photos. ¬†I was pretty bummed, to say the least. ¬†So take it from me. ¬†Verify for yourself on the largest SD card your phone can handle BEFORE you leave for your trip and make sure it is storing the pics!! ūüôĀ

2.) ¬†Carry on luggage. ¬†No checked bags. ¬†I can’t imagine what it would have been like to try and to get around with a heavy checked bag. ¬†Being self sufficient and ready to go was so convenient. ¬†I only regret not packing some lighter weight dress/skirt items. ¬†This will be my new goal for all travel going forward.

Travel outfit:

When in London, you MUST take a cheesy tourist-y photo in a phone booth.

I hope this post was helpful on some level.  More tips can be found in the companion post about travel jewelry.

Have you had packing fails for your trips?  Or do you have any trip tips you want to share?   I want to hear about it!  Please leave your comments below.


Jewelry For Travel

The topic of this post is simple jewelry designs to help pull your looks together while travelling.   Of course, these can be worn at any time and necklaces add a little interest while coordinating with basic clothing pieces.   These are me-made, and more inspiration can be found on Pinterest.    The post I wrote about my London trip better shows my overall cohesive plan.

The necklace on the left is a wire wrap technique, which means that wire is wrapped with a loop on each end. The bead is in the middle.  A series of loops link together forming a long necklace.

The necklace on the right is a simple stringing project where beads and spacers are strung in a pattern with a closure in the back.

Variation = Versatility
Both necklaces complimented my wardrobe pieces by combining neutral colors. To offer the most versatility, I constructed them by varying the lengths and varying the bead size.   Although I love scarves as an alternative to spice up a neutral outfit, I prefer to wear necklaces if the temps are warm.

Questions To Ask 

What kind of trip will it be? ¬†A beach vacation, a work conference, or a family reunion all require specific wardrobes, so the jewelry included (if any) will be different. ¬† I want simple and easy ‘go-to’ items that add detail that makes the outfit looked finished and that I put a little extra time into the overall look. ¬† I don’t pack items of great value, but I do ask myself if I would be really disappointed if the item(s) broke or were stolen. ¬†Although I would miss these pieces if something happened, I also ask, ‘Can I remake or replace this jewelry?’ ¬†If yes, then in the bag it goes.

Assorted beads from my bead stash

Assorted beads from my bead stash

40 inch assorted bead necklace

40 inch assorted bead necklace

Discover Your Preferred Necklace Lengths
Trends in jewelry come and go. Classics like pearls and gold chains seem to remain strong, but it is the length that is important and very individualized.   I like more substantial pieces and have a shorter and longer length I keep coming back to that seem right for me.

If I want a longer necklace that has the potential to be doubled up, I have discovered that 40″ is a good length for me, especially if I include a closure in the back. ¬†That way I can unfasten it and place the closure in the front, avoiding pulling it over my head. ¬† Another length I prefer is at the collar bone. ¬†I have written about it here¬†and here. ¬†Toggle closures are bigger and can be fasten easily.

Navy, gold, silver, light pink, shell, pearl beads

Navy, gold, silver, light pink, shell, pearl beads

A closer look. Most beads from Joann's

Many of these beads are from Joann’s and from my stash

Design and Composition

Sometimes it helps to take a closer look at the beads, their arrangement and the tiny beads or spacers in between. I have written about going into stores and making a beeline to the accessories to check out the jewelry designs. Keep an eye out for jewelry that can be re-purposed or re-designed to your taste. ¬†If you like to bead, you may recognize in the picture above some of these beads from the Joann’s. ¬† Often the collections are a blend of beautifully colored beads. ¬†All that is needed is to string them up!

Small lobster claw closure

Small lobster claw closure used with a split ring

Metals Used Instead of Color
Using colored beads is not the only way to add interest in a bead design. Sometimes adding metals does the trick.   Adding the wonderful warmth of copper or the cool tones of silver and pewter translate as color and can add so much to the overall color scheme our eye sees.   Gold can be used instead of yellow and blackened silver can add the black to ground a design and add some shine.

Since mixing metals is a current fashion trend, I used gold square spacers on the sides of the navy blue stone beads and pewter/dark gray spacers (above photo) to incorporate a dark gray into the design.

Gold pewter toggle closure

Gold pewter toggle closure

I didn’t get many outfit posts recorded, however, here is one taken while walking late across the Westminster Bridge toward Big Ben.

Dressed for Big Ben

Dressed for Big Ben

Other simple choices for travel were the earrings I packed.  All of them were purchased and could be worn interchangeably with the necklaces.

Do you have some versatile jewelry pieces you like to pack? ¬†Do you even bother to pack jewelry? ¬†Would you consider making your own jewelry? ¬†Please share your comments below, cuz’ I want to hear!:)

Happy sewing , creating, travelling, packing, etc.!:)



Simply Pink New Look 6340

There is nothing like triple digit temperatures to make you grab some fabric and a pattern and run to your sewing machine! ¬†If you are looking for a quick, simple sundress to make for your summer wardrobe, look no further than New Look 6340. ¬† Let me back up and say that I haven’t posted in a while because I have been packing (sewing) for an upcoming trip. Before that, I was cleaning up my sewing room (a HUGE task and you don’t want to see that). ¬†I even donated some fabric! ¬†However, due to the scorching heat outside, I have torn myself away from those tasks to make up this quick dress (and necklace).

I don’t care for the hot summers in Tucson, Arizona but I love¬†the winters. So here I am in June and in need of the coolest possible dress to wear…EVER. Meet New Look 6340.¬† This pattern is perfect made out of a light weight cotton. ¬†I made a size 14. ¬†I purchased my fabric from Joann’s a while ago, so it qualifies as a stash buster. ¬†This pattern offers 4 dress styles with notched, slightly scooped and V neck options. ¬†Pockets and sleeves are optional. Two hemline variations offered and side seam ties can be added to tie in back and offer some additional shaping. I chose to leave off the ties.

Quick glance at New Look 6340

Quick glance at New Look 6340

Center front seems are not my favorite because they break up a print. ¬†To get around this, I try to find an all over print that ‘reads’ as a solid and then the center seam doesn’t bother me as much.

Pocket shaped detail

Pocket with shaped detail

This pocket shape is not offered in the pattern, however a pleated version is offered. I decide to add a little bit of interest to the top of the pocket by shaping it with an inverted point at the center and facing it with a 1″ strip. I copied the shape on the strip and sewed the two pieces together, right sides together. ¬†Next step wass to stitch and trim, clip the curves, turn and press. Because cotton ravels during washing, I serge-finished the pocket edges. ¬†Press under the remaining three sides and top stitch. ¬† I used the pattern marking for the pocket and used fusible tape to secure the pockets before stitching.

A-Line dress with center back seam

A-Line dress with center back seam

The hem is a simple 5/8″ seam turned under and top stitched.

Now you know I have to make a necklace to wear with my outfits, right? ¬†I was fortunate to find some pink and orange ceramic beads and a¬†metal leaf focal pendant at Joann’s. ¬†I added some amber colored faceted crystal beads and some size 6 glass pink seed beads. ¬†It’s a pretty simple design and easy execution with a gold toggle clasp.

Self made necklace with beads and pendant from Joanns

Self made necklace with beads and pendant from Joanns

Ceramic, glass and metal necklace

Ceramic, glass and metal necklace

So there you have it. ¬†I came out of hiding to photograph two simple makes and now I’m on my way to be better prepared for the heat! ¬†Now I have to get back to finishing another¬†¬†TNT shirt for my husband for Father’s Day. What have you been working on for the summer?

Easy Self Drafted Maxi Gore Skirt And More

Self-Drafted Maxi Skirt in Jewel Tones

Self-Drafted Maxi Skirt in Jewel Tones

I’ve been under the weather, so I’m bringing you this post of a self-drafted skirt as well as a jacket and tank made to go with it. ¬†I hope the content still is helpful to you and that you can be inspired to draft your own simple pattern for a maxi skirt.

The inspiration for this post came from watching a clothing designer on QVC, a shopping network show on television.   The designer had created one simple knit skirt design and offered it in six different fabrics.  I was swept in because of the maxi skirt, the simple gore construction, and the multitude of looks created by changing up the fabric.

It occurred to me that it wouldn’t be that hard to copy. ¬† If I did a few calculations, I could draft a simple gore pattern, multiply it by six, add some elastic, hem and voila! DONE!

I got to work by gathering my supplies.

1.)  Tracing paper (I use medical paper)
2.)  Measuring tape
3.)  Pencil or pen, marker
4.)  Paper cutting scissors
5.)  Yard stick or long ruler
6.) ¬†Fabric (approximately 3 yards of 60″ knit for a maxi length)
7.) ¬†Elastic to fit waist measurement ( I use 1″, but you can use whatever width you want)

*Since my hips are my widest part, I measured them first.  If your waist is your largest measurement, measure that first and use the same calculation since the skirt will drape from there and clear your hips, giving you plenty of ease.

1.) Measure Hips. ¬†With your measuring tape, take the first measurement of your hips plus 2″ for ease. ¬†This number will need to be divided by 6. Example: Hip measurement = 46″ + 2″= 48 divided by 6 = 8.

Hip Measurement divided by six

Hip Measurement + 2 divided by six

2.) ¬† Start drawing the gore. ¬†With your long ruler or yardstick, draw two parallel lines the distance of your answer (side seams) ¬†Mine is 8″ including the 1/2″ seam allowance. ¬†The 8″ will be the width of each gore.

3.)   Measure the length of skirt.   If you have a favorite maxi skirt in your wardrobe, use it as a guide to determine length.   Take a measurement from your waist to the floor to get a rough idea of the length you want your skirt to be.   I like mine to hit at the ankle so that it is long enough for heels and can still be worn with flats.

4.) ¬† Add 2″ for hem and elastic fold over to your length measurement from last step. ¬† I use 1″ elastic, but you can use whatever width you want. ¬†Just allow for that amount for the fold over measurement at the top of your skirt. ¬†Continue to draw the lines from the waist down and flare out to make the gore. ¬†I improvised on the width and size of the gore at the hem line. ¬† Since I wanted to be able to keep the width narrow enough to fit on 60″ fabric, the gore sweep needs to stay less than 15″ wide. ¬†Once you draw the first side of the gore flare, fold it in half and draw the other side to match.

Measure the length of skirt. Take a measurement from your waist to the floor to get a rough idea of the length you want your skirt to be.

TIP*  I used this picture below to see the different shapes of gores.  In this case, since I am doing the math for six simple gores, I think mine is closest to View B.

Gore shapes for inspriation

Gore shapes for inspiration. ¬† I’m using View B

5.)  Draw your grain line.  This is easy.  Draw the opposite side of the gore and draw the grain line right down your center fold line.

You are done with the pattern.  Now it is time to lay it out on the fabric, cut it out and sew it up!

TIP*  Fabric requirements: I think knits work best here.  I have used poly spandex knits because they have great drape, pack well, and maintain their shape.

Here are some other versions I have made:

Once you have crafted your own gore skirt panel, you can complete this skirt in less than two hours, maybe less. I like these for the no-wrinkle factor, quick make and they are surprisingly cool in the summer even though the fabric is poly/spandex.  I bought the fabric at my local mill end store (SAS Fabrics) where they have rolls and bolts of ends sold at a discount.  I think I paid $2.99/yd for each of these pieces.

Fabric Requirements:¬†¬† I prefer 60″ knits with some recovery for this skirt. ¬†I bought 3 yards to have enough to lay out two lengths of the skirt plus extra for a tank top.

Fabric Layout: ¬†If your fabric is a true 60″ wide, you can fold the fabric with one selvage folded to the center of the fabric, and the remaining fabric left to be a single layer. ¬†On the folded area, place your gore and pin the grain line perpendicular to the fold. ¬†Cut out gore. ¬†You will end up with two cut gore pieces. ¬†Move pattern piece to the single layer area, parallel to the folded area you just cut and cut one more gore. ¬†Now you have three. ¬†Repeat for one more set of three gore pieces. ¬†Once you have 6 gore pieces, you will be ready to sew them up.

Sewing:  With right sides together, pin and stitch two gore pieces together from the hem to the waist.  Repeat six times.  Measure elastic to to your waist, cut, and sew to form a circle.  Quarter the elastic and skirt with pins.  Pin elastic to skirt with all quartered pins lining up.  Zig zag or serge around top edge of fabric to top edge of elastic, stretching while sewing.  Slowly work around entire waist. Turn down elastic towards skirt.  Stitch elastic down to skirt.  Turn up hem as desired.  Done!

Loes Hinse Tank and self drafted skirt

Loes Hinse Tank and self drafted skirt

The tank top is from Loes Hinse’s #5305 Tank Dress Pattern. ¬†This is a simple tank with turned under edges.

Tank Dress Pattern, Loes Hinse Patterns

Tank Dress Pattern, Loes Hinse Patterns

On to the Jacket:
The jean jacket is a out of print (OOP) Kwik Sew 2895. ¬†I love this patterns and have made both short and long versions. ¬†It is not boxy. ¬†There is a slight curve at the waist which is visible in the drawing of the longer version, but is also present in the shorter version even though the line drawing doesn’t show it. ¬†I made it out of a light to medium weight denim.

The only thing I don’t like about the pattern is the way the facing and collar meet. ¬†I haven’t figured out a way to make it look better other than to re-draft the facing and have it meet the shoulder seam. ¬†It doesn’t show when worn because it is turned under so I just go with it.

I have kept making the jacket because what I like about the jacket outweighs what I don’t like. ¬†Below are some other versions from this pattern.


So since my favorite pattern is OOP, here are some other options.  A stylish jean jacket design by Gertie, Butterick 6390.

Gertie Jacket, Butterick 6390

Gertie Jacket, Butterick 6390

Another alternative is Butterick 5616.

Butterick 5616 Jean Jacket

Butterick 5616 Jean Jacket

Now it is time for the shoes….I keep thinking that this gladiator, heavily strapped-ankle wrapped look is going to go away, but every summer it returns with a new twist. ¬†These are navy IMPO blue suede cage sandals from Stein Mart. ¬†I found them in our local store on sale. ¬† I don’t think they are still available, but here is a similar pair. ¬†They are actually pretty comfortable! ¬†They zip in the back and the laces are adjustable to fit the width of my feet.
Navy CageShoes1IMG_4531

Navy cage sandals

Navy cage sandals

If I find some navy shoes, I’m feeling lucky because they seem so rare. ¬† Do you feel lucky when you find a particular color shoe on sale?

Do you have a favorite jean jacket pattern?  Do you have successfully sewn garments that you (after-the-fact) wish had some drafting changes?  Do you tackle your own drafting?

I would love to hear your successful discoveries in the comments below.

I hope you found this post helpful, inspirational and/or interesting.  Off to the next project.

Until next time, happy sewing!





Reshaping Lives Through Recycling

Recycle your bras for women in need

Recycle your bras for women in need

Have you ever cleaned out your undies drawer and wondered what to do with your unwanted-but-perfectly-good bras??  Donating bras, like I did with other clothing items, was never the conclusion I reached until I recently read a blog post that shed light on The Bra Recyclers and Soma.com.  Both of these organizations have related goals to decrease the number of bras entering our landfills, while providing substantial social benefits to women and girls in need.

Unfortunately, there are too many women suffering from domestic violence.  Hopefully, they find a way to a shelter.  Sometimes they may only have the clothes on their back. Shelters can help with professional clothes for job placement, but rarely bras.  Since bras are the first step in feeling dressed and ready for the day, the need is great for women navigating a new way of life.  The Bra Recyclers and Soma have met the need to help provide these necessary foundation garments.

The Bra Stats

Here are some interesting statistics I recently read from the above websites:

1.)  The average women owns 6 bras but only wears 2.
2.)  8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size bra.
3.)  95% of clothing can be recycled but only 15% gets donated or recycled
4.)  Bras are one of the most requested items in shelters
5.)  One in four women will experience some form of domestic violence (Not a bra stat, but related to this subject)

Sobering stats, right? ¬†Soma started this work in 2010 and has partnered with¬†National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). ¬† Through Soma, there is donation program from Jan 9-Jan 31 where there is a $20 off a bra if you donate a bra. ¬†(Free bra fittings are available at Soma). ¬†Beyond January 31, you can donate bras to both locations by using their handy Geo-locator sites under ‘find boutique’¬†here and here.

What You Can Do

Fill out a donation form for a tax deduction (if desired), how you heard about the program, instructions and bra value(s).

Donation Form

Donation Form

After filling out the donation form, a mailing label will be sent via email.  Be aware that they do not pay for postage.  Instead, their money is spent distributing the bras to over 80 organizations around the world.

Printable label from The Bra Recyclers website

Printable label from The Bra Recyclers website

If you are not interested in shipping the bras, revisit the links above to find the nearest drop off location.  (The drop off locations may surprise you.  The closest location in my area was Fleet Feet Sports of Tucson).

TIP: ¬†Call First. ¬†I used the Geo locator feature (click on ‘details’) to find local drop off sites and phone numbers. ¬†Two out of three of the businesses listed in my area were NOT participating. ¬†Call first to confirm before driving to a listed location.

You can also learn more about making a financial donation here.

How To Support

You’ve heard the phrase, ‘Over the shoulder boulder holder’- well this is the way we can help other women in our communities – especially women who are well endowed. No matter what size you are, there is a need for your gently used bra. ¬†A good, supportive bra can be expensive but specialty bras are VERY expensive. ¬†Something as simple as a well-fitting foundation garment goes a long way to provide a good start to your day. ¬†I would like to think that this simple donation would be a small step toward helping women gain more self confidence, self respect and aid in making a better first impression. ¬†It is also an expense that doesn’t make it to the top of the priority list when other life threatening needs surface.

Clean, gently used bras ready for donation

Clean, gently used bras ready for donation

If you are like me, at some point your drawer holds a collection of different bra styles, sizes and comforts levels that represent weight fluctuations over the years. ¬†It kills me to throw them away….

It may not be right for you anymore, but it may be just right for someone else

It may not be right for you anymore, but it may be just right for someone else

I was so excited to find an alternative to throwing the bras into the landfill.  Giving something I can no longer use to those in need was a bonus!

I hope this was helpful….I know it was for me to read more about it from Jennifer Connolly. ¬†Thanks, Jennifer. ūüôā

Spread the word!

Until next time, stay uplifted.



Pantone Spring 2017 DIY Necklace

Necklace worn with Butterick 5526

Necklace worn with Butterick 5526

Pantone Colors Spring 2017

Pantone Colors Spring 2017

I love a happy accident. Without even planning it, I managed to make a DIY beaded necklace using all of the warm shades of the Pantone Spring 2017 colors. ¬†Truth be told, I made this before I knew about the upcoming colors. ¬†Sewing my own clothes and making my own jewelry keeps me both on and off the streets! ¬† I never know where I will find inspiration to create….

The Pantone Influence
When Pantone introduces the colors for a season, I’m always interested and curious, but that is as far as it goes. ¬† The colors serve as a springboard to create something new in a slightly different color combination or they prepare me for what I will be seeing in the fashion, home decorating and fabrics. ¬†So far, I am liking these new Spring 2017 colors, both cool and warm. ¬† Do you see anything you like? ¬†Do you already have these colors represented in your life? ¬†One easy way to incorporate them is to pluck your favorite color(s) out of the mix and add an accessory to your wardrobe (maybe something you already own), add a throw pillow on the chair or wear new lipstick/eye shadow shade. ¬†Or say NO to all of them!

Much to my surprise, it looks like Pale Dogwood, Primrose Yellow, Hazelnut, Flame and a pinch of Pink Yarrow are all present in this necklace.  It seems to me that the current necklace style trends are long, tassel, diminutive and/or minimalist. But for those of us who are told to keep the focus upwards, I follow that advice to the point that the majority of my feature necklaces are more substantial in nature and fill in necklines.

Mixed Bead Multi Strand Necklace

Mixed Bead Multi Strand Necklace

Different Styles
Speaking of necklines, I was happy to see the attention these necklaces bring to the celebrities’ faces in this photo.

Neckline focus

Neckline focus

Imogen Lamport wrote a great post illustrating necklace styles that best flatter necklines.

Imogen Lamport's Necklaces for Necklines

Imogen Lamport’s Necklaces for Necklines

The picture above shows that there is a time and place for all necklace types, day or night. ¬†What’s your style? ¬†Are these too much for you? ¬†Too gaudy or just right? ¬†I have heard some women say that most necklaces are just too heavy to wear and the weight gives them headaches. ¬†I. ¬†Would.¬† Die. ¬†I like em’ big and bold here, here and here.

Now I do realize that this is not one of the serious topics circulating in our world right now. ¬†However, what I can control is how I present myself in the best way I know. Wearing things I make is very gratifying because I can express my style, satisfy a creative ‘itch’ and complete a project from my many queues.

And then there is style icon Iris Apfel. I love her spunk! I read somewhere she said, “More is more, less is a bore.” She is a person who knows how to use abundant accessories as her trademark.

Moving in the other direction, is a simple chain with some adornment more your style?

Clean and simple

Clean and simple

Simple chain and bar necklace

Chain and bar necklace

Although sewing is my first love, making my own jewelry using beads of all types comes in second place. ¬†The accessory department is my first destination when I enter a department or consignment store. ¬†It is there that I find inspiration for color schemes, construction and style. ¬†I’ve been know to whip out my phone to take a picture or two….

Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show
As I write this post, it occurs to me why the Tucson streets are crowded with out-of-state licence plates…our city is revving up for The annual Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show running from late January through mid-February. It is a world famous minerals, fine jewelry, lapidary, fossil and all things rock related show. It brings tourists and vendors from around the world and is overwhelming the first time one attends. But then after that, it is all-consuming and exhaustive. I encourage you to visit if beads and rocks are your thing…that sounds weird, I know, but there is so much to see. ¬†If you are able to attend, my advice would be to bring a backpack, water bottle and comfy shoes. Oh wait, MONEY, too!

My Necklace Inspiration:
First of all, I never know when I’m going to see something that motivates me to create. ¬†Often it is color. ¬†Believe it or not, the little .99 bags of assorted peachy/gold beads from Walmart were the inspiration for this necklace. ¬†The little bags contained a random assortment of these juicy colors. ¬†As a result, I pictured them blending well with the other beads in my stash. ¬†The few random big balls were the focal beads, supported by all of the other supporting colored beads.

21 Inch 5 Strand Necklace

21 Inch 5 Strand Necklace

It was certainly a bead stash-buster and use up some small and medium size beads as filler and color blenders. Instead of looking at containers of money beads sitting in my stash, I love finding a way to use up these little lovelies.   For this style, I simply started stringing beads graduating from smallest to largest toward the center and then down to smallest again.  If a multi-strand necklace is too bulky for you, refining your beads selection and making it only 1-3 strands would also work.  Maybe the color scheme is right, but a longer style with a tassel would work better.

Another view of the strands

Pearls catching the light

Cone and toggle closure

Cone and toggle closure

All five of the strands are pulled up into large cones using beading wire, crimp beads and an eye pin.  The strands are attached to a toggle closure.  I find large toggles to be the best way to fasten the multi-strand necklaces around my neck because they are easier to grasp, fasten and undo.  I have plans to post a DIY tutorial on how to finish a multi strand necklace for anyone who may be interested.

Necklace worn with Butterick 5526

Necklace worn with Butterick 5526

To read more about the shirt I made to wear with it, click here.

And fianlly, what are you making/wearing/ buying that incorporates the new Pantone Spring 2017 colors?

Butterick 5526 Coral Shirt & Loes Hinse Gore Skirt

Tried and True Button Down Simplicity 5526

Tried and True Button Down Shirt
Simplicity 5526

This is a three part post containing a me-made shirt, skirt and necklace. ¬†To start, coral is one of my favorite colors because it can be worn in the southwest year round. ¬† Since i am heavily motivated to create by seeing color, when I saw this light weight fabric, I knew it would be turned into something I would wear as a topper. ¬† It goes with my many dark colored skirts and pants. ¬†In this case, I paired it with one of my TNT shirt patterns, Butterick 5526. ¬† The¬†TNT skirt pattern is thye¬†Gore Skirt, Loes Hinse¬†(pronounced ‘Loose Hin-sah’).

When it comes to a classic button down shirt, this Butterick has been a go-to pattern.  I love all of the styles offered in this pattern. This shirt is View C with the length of A &D.  I have made View D before (pre-blog) and love it as well.  Seeing the comeback of ruffles in recent fashion, the ruffle of View E would be a great addition to my wardrobe.

Tried and True Butterick 5526

Tried and True Butterick 5526

I deviated from my normal direction to always make shirts with bust darts or princess seams.   View C  has neither options for bust fitting, but still seems to bit me well anyway.  It also serves as a shirt-jacket worn open with a tank.

The fabric is a ¬†cotton poly blend. ¬†I found it at my local mill end store and I think it is a 60%/40% mix. ¬†It doesn’t wrinkle much (except when I tie it at the waist) and I’m hoping won’t show wear after washing. ¬†Here is more about the beaded necklace.

Baubles galore

Pantone Spring 2017 Necklace


I like to use mother of pearl buttons often on my shirts because I consider them to be a neutral color, are thin, and can be both dressy or casual.

Six Gore Skirt from Loes Hinse

Six Gore Skirt from Loes Hinse

As I have written about in previous posts here, I’m partial to the Loes Hinse patterns since attending the seminar she offers with her business partner, Sharon Lyon of Casual Elegance Fabrics. ¬† Sharon writes a newsletter called ‘The Look’, which explains how to use the patterns and fabrics to create a wardrobe suitable for many lifestyles. ¬†If interested, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

I have lost count of how many I have made of this skirt. ¬† The fabric is from my stash and was purchased years ago from a fabric store that is no longer with us. ūüôĀ ¬†It is a great skirt to wear in the summer, can be shortened ¬†from the waist, and can be styled with boots in the cooler months. ¬†I did view D which has six panels and six triangle-shaped gores. ( What’s a gore, you ask? ¬† It is the triangle piece found near the hemline to provide fullness. ¬†See View A, D and E.).

Line Drawings, Gore Skirt Loes Hinse

Line Drawings, Gore Skirt
Loes Hinse

SEWING TIP:  I learned THE BEST tip from Loes on inserting gores.

1.)  Instead of creating the intersection in which the gore must be inserted, instead, sew the small gore to one side of the longer skirt panel piece.

2.)  Serge or zig zag seam to clean finish

3.) Press seam toward gore.

4.) Pin another longer skirt panel to the gore and skirt panel you just finished.

4.) Pin and sew the next gore to THAT piece, and so on.  (First skirt panel, gore, second skirt panel, gore, etc.)  Make sure stitching includes gore at the intersection where all three pieces meet.

5.)  Repeat until all longer skirt panels have been sewn to their corresponding gores.


This tip is why I have a bazilion skirts like this in my wardrobe.

Do you have a sewing construction tip that was a ‘Dah, why didn’t I think of that?’ moment that changed your world?

Until next time, happy sewing.





Rhonda’s Creative Life Is Sharing Blog Love….

Blog Love

Blog Love

Returning A Favor

It is a little early for Valentine’s Day, but I am feeling the love from Rhonda. ¬†Blog love, that is. ¬†I was grateful to find my blog featured on Rhonda’s Creative Life Wednesday Showcase! ¬† Rhonda wrote a thoughtful post summarizing my love for sewing, making jewelry and offering tutorials. ¬†It is only fair to share the love and share Rhonda’s website with my viewers. ¬†Talk about making my day!! ¬† I was giddy with delight to see the referrals from Rhonda in my site stats because, like compliments people give you, she didn’t have to do it. ¬†She didn’t just link to my site but wrote a nice re-cap with great collage photos to help introduce me to her readers.

Rhonda Buss

Rhonda Buss flying planes and saving dogs

Check Out Her Blog

I have to be honest….I didn’t know about Rhonda until this happened but I’m glad now! ¬†(I’m still discovering established sewing bloggers every day). ¬† If you have not read about Rhonda, what I can tell you is that she has been blogging since 2009, loves to fly planes¬†and writes for Sew News Magazine. ¬†She offers free patterns ¬†and regularly shares the love by featuring other blogger’s posts on topics she thinks will be educational, informative or just plain fun!

Every Wednesday (Wednesday Showcase) Rhonda features a blogger that has caught her eye. ¬† Rhonda’s posts range from collaborative sewing projects, Sunday Night Reflections, Sew Alongs or a link to take you to a site offering fashion thoughts like¬†Londa’s Creative Sewing. ¬†There is her Wednesday Showcase Hall of Fame on the right column on her home page to see. ¬†Time can fly by just perusing the information on her sight. ¬†How about some free printables¬†to start off the year?? ¬†Those are just a few quick enticements. ¬†Yep, this site is worth your time.

My Thoughts

The sewing community shares generously, is endlessly creative, and courageous. ¬†I read about women tackling sewing challenges constantly by spending time and money and projects that have unknown outcomes. ¬† Women of all ages open themselves up to possible sewing ‘fails’ by sharing how the fabric, pattern or execution may have come up short.¬† And who doesn’t love to read about a sewing success story?! ¬†The constant pursuit to sharpen the sewing, fitting and technical skills takes determination, perseverance and creativity. ¬†I am so grateful to be a part of this community and to learn from these fellow sewists!


Do you have some blog love to share? ¬†Have you found a blog that inspired you to get creative, motivated, or be encouraged? ¬†I’d love to hear.


Denim Urban Tunic or Dress?

Urban Tunic, Indygo Junction

Urban Tunic, Indygo Junction

Yes, it looks like I am on a cowl neck dress tunic streak.   A recent post featured a McCalls 7020 cowl neck top turned dress that would make you think I have no imagination.  Really?  Another cowl neck dress?  But this one is slightly different.   It is a great jumper for grownups.  Pair it with a long sleeve tee like I did here, a turtleneck in the winter, or a tee in the summer.

My Inspiration:

The first time I saw this Indygo Junction Urban Tunic¬†made up was when my mom and I went to the Puyallup Sewing & Stitchery Expo. ¬†Amy Barickman, the creator of Indygo Junction, was wearing it a cute cotton paired with a white tee underneath. ¬† That is what sold it! ¬†I googled “amy barickman wearing urban tunic indygo junction” and found many versions of this dress. ¬†She looks cute in everything she wears. ¬†Here she is below, with Alex Anderson, at what looks like a quilt show promoting her line. Doesn’t she look great in this black and while version?

Amy Barickman, Alex Anderson

Amy Barickman, Alex Anderson

Pattern Features:

It is a simple silhouette in an a-line shape featuring bust darts, bias collar and back zipper.  Some features could be eliminated to change the look completely.   Consider the idea of using a smaller piece of fabric (a great fabric stash buster) and eliminate the cowl, zipper and pockets resulting in a perfect tunic or dress for the summer.

Indygo Junction Urban Tunic Line Drawing

Indygo Junction Urban Tunic Line Drawing

I eliminated the zipper, so I just slip it over my head.  An exposed zipper would be a nice feature as in the line drawing above.

I chose to not insert a back zipper

I chose to not insert a back zipper

What I love about a-line silhouettes:
1.)  Clean, unobstructed front view for prints and patterns
2.) Looks casual but dressier than pants
3.) Versatile: jumper, dress or tunic
4.) NOT body conscious.

If you’ve read my other posts, you know I love sewn down pockets….but not crazy about the little sway-back-wrinkle action going on when my hands are in the pockets. ¬†I might consider some fish eye back darts to take up the excess. ¬†The Badonkadonk strikes again. ¬†If I increase the width on the sides, it resembles a tent, so I purposely keep the width just enough to where it skims the lines of my body. ¬† I won’t be running away from this a-line silhouette anytime soon but I do need to consider ¬†how I’m going to keep the shape but get rid of the wrinkles.

This fabric is a soft denim with some heft Рmaybe an 8oz. (?) from my stash. Since I barely had enough fabric, it is a little short for me.  Tights are a MUST.  The bias cowl adds so much to the style and it drapes very well.

Urban Tunic Pattern

Urban Tunic Pattern

The bust darts look a bit high here (below) and no wrinkles like in the picture above.   Movement = wrinkles.

The next version will probably be in a fun cotton print with a tee for spring because I’m a copy-catter.

Goofing around...

Goofing around…

I am a fan of the Indygo patterns. ¬†I made up a trench coat pattern here. ¬†Be aware that many of the Indygo Patterns often recommend cottons or wovens rather than knits. ¬†Check out all of the new Women’s Clothing patterns on Indygo Junction.

On to another project.

Happy Sewing,

– Dana

Blogger Recognition Award!

A BIG Thank You goes out to Rachel of¬†Sew Red-y for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award! ¬†Little did I know that having Rachel in my Joann’s class years ago would result in this! ¬†I never thought that my love for sewing would bring me into the online world of great people who share tips, struggles and victories with their sewing.

Here are the rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

2. Write a post to show your award.

3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.

4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.

5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.

My blog started in 2011 from the prompting of my adult children. ¬†They grew up seeing me cut out patterns, fabric shop, wear my finished garments and teach sewing to others. ¬†Knowing Deedle was my nickname as a kid, my clever daughter came up with the play on words name, DeedleandThread. ¬†Growing up with computers, my kids all felt I should share what I know with a much larger audience. ¬†I was VERY slow to get on board, both technically and socially. ¬†I didn’t know the difference between a widget and WordPress and didn’t think anyone would be interested in what I was sewing. ¬† Sometimes I still struggle with posting things I make because the pattern is considered ‘old’ or I often sew the same garment up in different fabrics over and over (boring). ¬†As I get more active with my own blog and other blogs out there, I have learned that there is plenty to learn from each other, no matter what the sewing project may be. ¬†My goal for 2017 is to share more with all of you and get my introverted-self more ‘out there’. ¬†I am amazed at the detail and determination to which sewists will go to master sewing skills.

Advice Tip #1:
Be Yourself РHonest, friendly and helpful writing is so refreshing and inspiring to read.  I thoroughly enjoy reading and seeing the complete span of good to bad sewing experiences.  Nobody knows everything about sewing and the bits and pieces we can learn from each other is endless.  Humor is also very important.

Advice Tip #2:
Blog Regularly – This is a reminder to myself as well as a tip to share. ¬†Blogging is a lot of work. ¬†I take my own photos 99% of the time and it is the biggest time consumer (more than sewing the garment!). ¬†Honestly, I get excited to see a new post from someone I’m following and have to remember that they are also putting in the time.

15 Nominations of blogs that make me smile:
1. Lucky Sew and Sew
2. Pretty Grievances
3. Confessions of a Sewing Novice
4. Sew Brunswick
5. Sew DIY
6. A Colorful Canvas
7. Sew, Jean Margaret
8. Sewing by the Seat of my Pants
9. Nancy K Sews
10. SewPassionista by Diana
11. Sharon Sews
12. StacySews
13. Crafting A Rainbow
14. Danvillegirl Sewing Diary
15. dreamingofavonlea

And finally, a thank you to all of you who visit my blog and keep me coming back to your blogs for inspiration. ¬†Rachel, you’re the best-est in the southwest-est.

– Dana

McCalls 7020 Cowl Top Turned Dress

Cowl Neck top with Chico's necklace

Cowl Neck top with Chico’s necklace (old)

As I move into 2017 and take inventory of my lengthy list of sewing projects, I am reminded of the bloggers who took great time to review their versions of sewing ‘Hits and Misses’ of 2016. ¬† There seemed to be a plan from the start of the year to execute specific garments for their wardrobe. ¬†This requires organization and planning skills, which I admire. ¬† However, I am more impulsive. ¬†If I need a jacket, I make one. ¬†If I get inspired by a great pattern, I collect the fabric and necessities and get started. ¬†Maybe perusing blogs will inspire me to make something similar because I can! Allowing myself to be drawn into a creative swirl often results in garments that have served a practical purpose, ¬†a creative ‘itch’ that needed to be scratched, or because I needed some time alone to recharge in my happy sewing space.

Have you ever come across a pattern that just draws you in but you don’t know why? ¬†This simple McCalls 7020 pattern did just that. ¬†Maybe it was the fabric, or how it looked on the model or maybe it’s simplicity. ¬† Not sure. ¬†At first, I planned to make a top (View B) out of this to wear with jeans. ¬†But then I realized that I had enough fabric to extend the top into a dress minus pockets. ¬†I love the idea of pockets and I truly love them but only if they can be sewn down either to the waistband or directly to the front of the garment.

Cowl Neck of McCalls 7020

Cowl Neck of McCalls 7020

My favorite part of this pattern is the cowl neck. The pattern piece is weirdly shaped which is probably why it drapes so nicely. ¬†This fabric is a waffle weave Henley-like fabric purchased at my local mill end store. ¬†Since fabric content is a guess at that store, I would say it’s contents would be a rayon, cotton and poly blend.

( Side note about mystery fabric content: ¬†My rule is the Fabric Must Stand The Washer And Dryer Test. ¬†How will it survive? ¬†Sometimes the fabric improves with washing and drying. ¬†You may choose to launder the fabric differently into the future, but that first washing is crucial. ¬† The results of the washing may change the direction of the project. ¬†Is it softer? ¬† Does it have a new texture, drape?…etc. ¬†Remember that you are getting a great deal because there are NO FRILLS, UNKNOWN FABRIC CONTENT OR CARE DESCRIPTION. ¬†You are on your own. ¬†I happen to love this fabric challenge because my success rate is about 95%. ¬†Maybe it comes from years of working with fabric that I am confident that it will turn out. ¬†Like most things, practice makes perfect. )

Back to the dress РIt is a bit thin for a dress, but since I knew I would wear it with tights, it was fine.   I made up a size  M 12/14.

My son’s dog, Outlaw, was a bit bored, but still well behaved while we took some photos.

Are we done yet?

One construction change I might make for next time is to eliminate the center front and back seams and instead place them on the fold.  It would also save some sewing time making this an even quicker project to complete.   The center seams interrupt the pattern if using a print.

It makes sense in View C where stripes are featured.

Man, this is boring?  Fetch, anyone??

Here, you can see the front riding up. ¬†It appears I need a Full Bust Adjustment! ¬†Hummmm. ¬†I don’t usually need to make that alteration, but when I see the front hem line drawing up, it usually means that fabric is being taken up by a larger bust. ¬†I found myself tugging at the dress to keep the front even with the back.

My second change would be to make the bicep/upper arm circumference larger.  My goal was to have this be a looser knit shift dress all around, but the sleeves are a bit tight.

I will probably make this again but choose stripes instead and make a top and widen the sleeves to be more comfortable. ¬† Now that I’m thinking of it, I have some striped fabric in my stash that I could use for all of these changes. ¬†It would also be nice to add a slightly hi-low hemline to the top. ¬† Stay tuned…

These days, a loose style cowl neck is the closest I will be getting to a turtleneck. ¬† I don’t seem to need many layers year round while living in Arizona. ¬†This loose cowl also allows space for a necklace.

Please be a squirrel....

Please be a squirrel….

Using this same pattern, I loved seeing Mimi G Style’s hoodie. ¬†Have you tried this pattern? ¬†Thoughts?

Happy sewing-