Blog

An Outfit for Elijah

IMG_6288

My 26 year old daughter, Charity, is expecting our first grandbaby, due on July 11. I made a romper from an old Butterick pattern 5470 and am very happy with how it turned out.

This was my first experience using KamSnaps and they were a cinch. I bought this set from Amazon upon recommendation of Rachel from StitchedInColor who wrote about her experience making a romper for her baby girl.

I added some interfacing to the edges to make them nice and sturdy. However, one end was a little too thick for the length of the snap prong. To fix that, I carefully removed a little circle of a couple thicknesses of fabric right around the prong. Then when the opposing socket was attached, it fit and completely covered the area where fabric had been cut away.

IMG_6285

I also found a pattern at NewConceptions for some very cute booties. I frequently salvage useful fabric from clothing we no longer want. At one time we had a bunch of sweatshirts to get rid of and I cut them up for later use. I saved the wrist bands too and recently found those work really well to keep leather and vinyl nicely rolled up on long tubes I get from upholsterers.

IMG_6289

Since we live in Gainesville, home to University of Florida gators, I chose orange and blue, UF colors. The sweatshirt fabric is so thick and soft, perfect for booties. The free pattern is quick and easy to make.

Our entire family is excited about the new baby. One daughter drove down from Jacksonville for the shower on June 3. Our son and daughter who live out of state are both planning to visit in July after Elijah makes his appearance. It’ll be interesting to see how our family dynamics change with the coming of grandchildren… new joys, new challenges and lots of love.

Gigi’s Healing Testimony

This is a guest post from my 20 year old daughter, Gigi.

img_5967

Previous Healing

From 2011 to 2013, I was meditating on the Scriptures for most of each day. I was very ill at that time from a fungal infection in my intestines and some other co-infections that damaged my immune system and left me exhausted continually.

Then on June 28, 2013 it was like everything just clicked into place. I could genuinely understand that I was healed already by Jesus’ blood and that I just had to speak to the “mountain” and it would move. I spoke healing scriptures out loud, sang hymns and was praying for over two hours. I then commanded my body to be healed and I was – instantly! I leaped out of bed and rejoiced!

Getting off Track

However, after being healed, I started to pick up a lot more jobs and volunteer work in addition to saying “yes” to everything. I earned a full honors scholarship and then discovered the requirements included considerable volunteer work along with difficult courses, maintaining at least a 3.5 GPA and presenting research projects at conferences. Whew!

Throughout this time, I was still trying to seek God, but that wasn’t my top priority as I was constantly struggling to keep up. I realize now that that lifestyle lacked wisdom and strength from God because I wasn’t putting him first in all my ways. I was focusing on my own success or failure above my relationship with the Lord. That stepping away from God and his umbrella of protection rendered me vulnerable to attack from the enemy.

I ended up having to drop out of school and all my jobs and activities due to seizures and related debility. As the months went on I grew worse, more disabled in every way instead of experiencing any recovery. Very small exertions would precipitate not only seizures, but as time went on asthma attacks also. Much professional help was sought, but no concrete answers were found.

Another Day of Healing 2/8/17

A couple weeks before this date, I called the prayer line for the Daily Audio Bible community. I was a little discouraged because I was still getting worse and had to the ER instead of seeing any improvement. But on the worst day ever, my dad’s small group leader, Chris Jette, called him just out of the blue and we asked if he would come over and pray for me.

Chris came by at 5:00 with his daughter and they brought their guitar. He thought it would be good to sing some worship songs first. I could hardly sing the first song because my mouth was twitching so forcibly, but it impacted me so greatly the tears just flowed.

Than Chris asked what my favorite song was, but when I tried to get up to get the music, I was too weak to lift my body and any muscles I tried to use just shook. However, by the third song, I could sing loud and strong and had complete control over my mouth. Praise is strength against the enemy!

Then Chris talked about how he felt the seizures and weakness might be coming from demonic oppression. After he prayed for me, I felt sure I was about to have a seizure. I cried out, “I don’t want to have a seizure!”  Chris started to pray again, but this time I felt I needed to pray aloud also.

I hadn’t been praying for myself much because I was always so tired and couldn’t think clearly, but this time, as I began to pray I grew stronger as I went on. First, I commanded any demonic oppression to be bound up and cast out in Jesus’ name.
Then I spoke individually and specifically to every area that I was having issues with, commanding healing and restoration in the name of Jesus.

When I finished, the seizure aura had vanished, I hadn’t a trace of light sensitivity either. A big sigh came out and I smiled from ear to ear. We could all tell I was different! I stood up on my own and gave them both many hugs.

_26_0288

Walking in Faith

The following day however, I woke feeling so tired and I just wanted more than anything to do nothing. But I knew that is not how a healthy person acts so I got out of bed and got in the Word. Here is a detailing of how I fight sickness and walk in healing.

  1. When you feel sick or anything that is not what God’s Word declares you to be, you must avoid negative emotions and believe God over everything. Don’t make the issue bigger than it is.
  2. You need to be reminded of who God is and what he has done. It all comes down to relationship because if you trust God and are confident in his love for you, then fear, doubt and unbelief have no place in your heart. Scripture is very important, especially in a crisis, for speaking Life.
  3. If you are baptized in the Holy Ghost, pray in tongues as this is like a supercharger to faith and tremendously strengthening. If you need wisdom, ask the Lord for interpretation as you are speaking the hidden wisdom of God.
  4. When you know you believe God, act on it. Don’t act if you’re just hoping and a wishing. If you really believe, you will act, but if you try acting healed without really believing, that’s like pulling the cart before the horse.

I highly recommend Andrew Wommack’s free series called, The Christian Survival Kit, which goes into much more detail on these topics. You can listen to it on his website.

Other things that are important to overcoming is speaking life, abiding in Jesus, meditating on God’s love, praising him out loud and thanking him.

I especially love to sing scripture. Here’s a link to a YouTube playlist I found that has over 100 songs. These help me to memorize the Word. The melodies get stuck in your head which makes it more difficult to think negatively.

I fight and rebuke the devil and lean on God’s power daily. I am walking in complete healing from seizures, fatigue, allergies and cognitive disability. My life has been restored and I resolve to keep the Lord preeminent and not allow the pressures of the world to drag me away again.

Gigi’s Treasure Bag

sccas

A facebook group I am in, decided to do the Summit Pack by Cloudsplitter Bags as a sew-along. I choose to use my upholstery crushed velvet, as well as some beautiful embroidered drapery material.

My daughter Gigi was immediately excited about the bag in crimson velvet, so I decided to give it to her when it was made. Once she knew it would be hers, Gigi wanted it to be spectacular.

Sophie supervised my sewing.

IMG_5883.JPG

Sometimes it got too close for comfort.

img_5887

Gigi was inspired by a few bags she had seen online and her creative adaptations of Summit reflect the influence of the Burberry Monogram Backpack in the chain attachment for the strap, the appliques of the Chanel Applique Boy Bag, and a gem encrusted velvet Dolce & Gabbana bag.

For maximum bling and superior functionality, we used Riri symmetrical zippers for the two front zipper openings. We used Riri Anello Zipper Pulls because we wanted to attach handstitched leather petals instead of the regular metal pull.

img_5916

Gigi made a pile on her bed of everything she could find that she was inspired by. Her first idea was for the bag to just have patches of things on it but she quickly realized it would be covered.

She cut out the three exterior pieces and marked 3/4 inch with chalk all around each piece. Once the bits ‘n bobs for each panel were all placed down nicely, she put each panel’s items in their own container. It took three days for the stitching to be complete. Everything she choose has a special meaning.

img_5961

Gigi made sure to include a purse-protective whistle, which she attached to a repurposed necklace, because who wouldn’t want to steal this rockin’ queen of a bag?

img_5976

Her Summit reminds me of Where’s Waldo because you can study it for a long time and still find new things.

img_6001

img_5923

img_6039

Gigi’s older sister, Charity, lived on our couch for a year to save money for school and moved out in 2016. When she came over a few weeks ago and saw the bag she was amazed and upon closer inspection, exclaimed, “There’s one of my earrings… there’s another .. and that was a pin I lost!” She wants us to make her one now. 🙂

img_5949

Here are the inside pockets and a close up of the leather bow pin we made.

img_5990

Wonder what we’ll do next? 🙂

img_6066

Diva Envelope Clutch

I like to follow blogs as I learn a lot and am inspired by many creative people. One of those is Rochelle at esheepdesigns. Around Thanksgiving she showed her latest design, the Diva Envelope Clutch, and said she was looking for testers. It looked simple enough for a beginner like myself so I responded and was accepted to test the pattern.

When my daughter, Gigi, saw it she thought it would make a great Christmas gift for our son-in-law, Taylor, as a document holder since at 13″ x 9 3/4″ it’s large enough to hold file folders. She offered to cut out all the pieces so we could get it done in time for our early family celebration on December 11.

We wanted Taylor’s to look manly, therefore we used cork fabric with faux leather accents for the exterior and a linen-like fabric for the lining. With those materials, no interfacing was needed. Taylor was very impressed and stated that he would never have thought it was made with a sewing machine.

I had to add a little piece on the side which you can see above – the dark brown triangle of faux leather. The pattern directs you to be careful in placing the pattern pieces B and C on the correct sides, because one needs to be on the right and the other on the left in order for the bag to turn out correctly. Well, we mixed those up and the result was the sides of our envelope dipped in somewhat at the top so I just added a sliver on each side to compensate and it turned out great.

After Christmas, Gigi decided she wanted to make another one for herself because she likes to carry her Bullet Journal around and needed something that would hold it. She chose some faux leather for the exterior and a bright floral for the lining.

img_5841

It was fun to figure out ways to decorate our bag flaps with rivets. The square studs are so inexpensive on ebay and simple to attach – just push the prongs in and fold down the edges!

Gigi decided to insert a wedge at the sides so that the bag could hold more and also to accommodate a shoulder strap. She cut a piece of Essex linen 9″ long, 2 1/2″ wide at the top which tapered to 1/2″ wide at the bottom.

She fused some lightweight interfacing to the back, but the fabric still needed more strength to match the thickness of the faux leather. We decided to try waxing the linen.

img_5858

We got out a little crock pot where we keep our fabric waxing mixture, plugged it in and brushed the wax solution onto the fabric. We then ironed it between sheets of paper to remove excess wax. That transformed the fabric to a deeper aqua and made it much sturdier.

We purchased the little strap connectors with ring from Ohio Travel Bag. It’s very easy to attach, just requires a tiny hole and then it screws right in – perfect for a chain strap.

img_5861

Gigi made a slip pocket to hold her journal with a lined and interfaced 12″ x 14″ piece of fabric.She added a small rectangular flap for secure closure.

For the pocket flap, Gigi used two pieces of faux leather, 3.5″ x 4.5″ with velcro dots for attachment. A metal button was added for decoration.

img_5846

We decided to close this one via a magnetic snap. The tassel works as sort of a pull tab for opening. We made the tassel and a handle for the top out of some scraps of black leather.

Here it is opened up and from the backside. We secured the faux leather strap on Taylor’s bag with Chicago screws, but just stitching was secure enough for the leather handle on Gigi’s.

img_5853

This is a great pattern if you want something that will hold documents, a journal or perhaps an iPad. It’s easy enough for a beginner and very adaptable to modifications including a wide variety of fabrics. I’m considering making another one in waxed canvas with leather trim. 🙂

Rochelle is offering the pattern at a discounted price over the weekend. Go over to her blog to check it out and see all the test editions!

img_5867

A Hip Pack for Shena

img_4791

I made my daughter a little pouch for her birthday earlier this year. It can be worn with a strap or just clipped onto belt loops.

img_4795

It’s a pattern by SotakHandmade called Fannie Pouch. I used some soft denim with Cotton and Steel fabrics.

I added a zipper pocket on the back with Japanese newspaper fabric inside. Gigi wire wrapped a heart-shaped pearl to the zipper pull.

img_4803

I also added a divided slip pocket inside. I wrote “for Shena” with a miron marker on a ‘Made with Love’ label I had ordered from an etsy shop back in 2010 when I first got into knitting.

img_4799

Instead of the snaps, I put some small, lead drapery weights in the bottom corners to add weight and hold the flap down. They were left over from a drapery hanging business my father owned in the 1960’s to 70’s.

img_4804

Shena loved it, especially all the animals. I love to sew special gifts for my children and am thrilled to be learning how to make bags.

Blanche is a Gold Digger

img_5717

I’ve been following a lot of people in Facebook sewing groups for the past year, learning all about making bags out of fabric, vinyl and leather. Even though I’d never made anything more complicated than a zippy pouch, when the famous leather handbag creator, Laurie Dasso, agreed to do a sew-along for the Swoon pattern named Blanche, I jumped on board without a second thought.

img_5648

Laurie told us how much leather we would need as well as all the supplies that would be required. I quickly realized I would not be able to make a leather bag without an industrial machine so decided to use some vinyl I had on hand.

The entire construction process was a thriller adventure with many new challenges. My connector tabs to which the handles attach on the bag front and back turned out a bit wonky so I dug around in my trims bin and found some vintage Wrights piping I’d picked up in an estate sale and that gold edging helped a lot. I decided to edge the contrast overlay to match.

When my daughter, Gigi, saw the gold, the lights went on and she decided to get in the game. Being a jewelry maker, she has oodles of goodies in her stash. She took some gold Swarovski pearls and glammed up the strap and handles. Then she crafted her name with some heavy, brass wire to which crystals were wire-wrapped and a gold chain was added.

img_5667
img_5673                                                                        the back view

img_5670

A little bow was perfect for the zipper pull which she attached with more of the brass wire. An Eiffel Tower charm was perfect for the inner pocket zipper.

 

img_5677

I made a tassel with some gold lambskin for more bling and swing. Gigi loves the fuzzy charms on the Fendi bags and since I happened to have an old rabbit skin, found at a yard sale years ago, she decided to make a pom pom for the finishing touch.

 

She used this tutorial, but decided to attach the fur ball with a folded strip of leather (a la Fendi) instead of using a chain. We installed 1/8” short brass eyelets from Volcano Arts into the ends of the strip. The thin cord she used to gather together the circle of rabbit hide went into the holes and we tied it off. Gigi put a drop of Loctite Super Glue with gel control on the knot and then clipped the ends.

img_5690

Blanche is actually a fairly advanced project for a first bag, but the support of Laurie and the rest of the group made it doable. I’ve come to a few conclusions from the process:
1) No more vinyl, only leather from now on.

2) I need a machine designed for sewing handbags and similar items and am saving up for a Cowboy cylinder arm with removable flatbed conversion table.

3) Fabri-Tac (glue for bonding cloth) is a savior!

4) I want to make a lot more.

5) Working with Gigi is so much fun.

img_5696

This wild group of crazy ladies I’m learning with has been a hot bed of ideas, innovation and sharing – so exciting! Laurie’s daughter taught us all how to wax canvas and I’ll be using that on a future bag.

The next bag scheduled in our sew-along will be the Summit Pack, a sling backpack that’s actually far more complex than Blanche. Gigi has picked out some burgundy crushed upholstery velvet which she plans on glamming up with rainbow crystals. I’ll let you know in a future post how that turns out.

 

Treasures from Trash

dresser

A few years ago I became interested in quilting after seeing a beautiful kaleidoscope quilt someone had made. Knowing that interior design houses throw out their old sample books as lines and collections change, I made an effort to contact a number of interior designers to see if they had any discards.

Evidently very few people are utilizing this rich resource and I’ve been inundated with so much fabric in both samples and yardage that I regularly take the surplus to share with others at my quilt meetings. The fabrics range from heavy vinyl and velvet upholstery fabric to drapery sheers and Italian lace. Fine cotton, linen, silk, rayon and wool are abundant in addition to various synthetics and blends.

A year ago I decided to try and make a table runner with a bunch of linen samples that were mostly large, 12” x 18” pieces. I picked out some that coordinated well, sliced them up in varying widths and then started chain piecing them together via this system:

  1. Sew all the strips into pairs.
  2. Sew the pairs into fours.
  3. Sew each four to another four.
  4. Sew each of those together and so on until it’s all one long piece.

I evened up the sides with a ruler and a rotary cutter and sewed on a narrow border which was followed by a wide border. I then added some fusible fleece and backing. I quilted it along the seam lines and the final step was binding.

I felt the little pieces that were cut off were too pretty to throw in the trash so I sewed them all together and turned it into something like a small place mat. (That’s a tiny pewter hedgehog in the upper right corner.)

topper

I inherited my parents’ bedroom set when my mother died some years back and that included a very long dresser. I decided to see if the runner would fit there and amazingly enough, it fit perfectly even though I hadn’t even thought about making it to fit that or anything else! And the little patchwork piece was perfect on a small chest of drawers.

Goodwill and most other thrift stores won’t take fabric sample books, but we have a store in our city called the Repurpose Project that specializes in salvaging useful materials that would otherwise be thrown out. They accept many things that other resale stores won’t take and are a great place to share my endless haul.

Two in One Pouch

two-in-one

I made the Two in One pouch by Sotak Handmade for my oldest daughter’s birthday.  It was my first real success in making a nifty bag. I added the brass birds charm because my daughter’s name is Phoebe and I used to call her Phee-bird when she was a baby.

back-side

I used several pieces of Alexander Henry fabric from his Indochine Garden and Hosomichi Kanji collections. My daughter, Phoebe, is a big fan of Japanese animated movies, so I added some anime geisha fabric in the center.

anime

I used a narrow strip of Kanji in black for the bottom edge –

bottom-edge

and used Kanji in cream for the pocket interiors.

pocket-interior

Phoebe really likes it and finds it much better for storing her jewelry when traveling than plastic sandwich bags. A velcro tab holds the two zip pouches together at the top.

The pattern is easy and fun, even for a beginner. I was a little anxious doing it as I couldn’t understand how the instructions were going to turn out with something that worked, but I decided to just trust what was written and it came together perfectly. 🙂

Zippy pouches and handbags pose very different challenges in construction than any of the clothing I’ve sewn over the years. I love that you can make very personalized gifts with bags and accessories.

Tai Chi – Therapeutic for Life

TaiChi.FEB.5.with.VernaatGWC.PartWildHorsesMane

Tai Chi Chuan is a traditional Chinese martial art that is mainly practiced today for its health and longevity benefits. In the first Tai Chi class I took, about 15 years ago, I met a woman who stated that practicing these gentle, fluid movements had normalized her high blood pressure. Since so many people the world over have experienced remarkable health benefits from practicing Tai Chi, it has become a focused area of medical research in recent years.

Reduces Blood Pressure and Elevated Blood Sugar  

In 2008, The Journal of Preventive Cardiology published a review conducted by Harvard Medical School in Boston. They examined 26 separate studies on the effects of Tai Chi and concluded that it is able to significantly reduce blood pressure.

The University of Queensland in Australia published a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that same year which showed that Tai Chi effected significant reductions in blood sugar and improvements in other disease biomarkers including elevated blood pressure.

Improves Immune Response and Reduces Inflammation

Tai Chi has also been found to significantly increase several indicators of immune function and reduce inflammation during programs of 12 weeks or more. Inflammation commonly accompanies suppression of immune response and both are primary factors in the development of most types of chronic, degenerative disease such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Stress Management

In 2007, The Medical Science Monitor published a study which examined the power of these gentle exercises to relieve stress. Researchers from Coburg University in Germany found that a daily Tai Chi session significantly reduced stress biomarkers.

It was also found that participants were considerably healthier in both mind and body after practicing Tai Chi on a regular basis. Stress releases harmful hormones and alters body chemistry in detrimental ways. Therefore, exercise that alleviates this daily insult will naturally impact both mental and physical health.

Preventive for Osteoporosis

A 2007 review of six studies into the effect of these exercises on bone mineral density found that “Tai Chi may be an effective, safe, and practical intervention for maintaining bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.” This was published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Endorsement by US Healthcare

An extensive analysis of over 200 studies published in The American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, titled “Comprehensive Therapeutic Benefits of Tai Chi: A Critical Review,” summarized today’s medical posture regarding Tai Chi. The authors stated, “Controlled research evidence was found to confirm therapeutic benefits of Tai Chi practice with regard to improving quality of life, physical function including activity tolerance and cardiovascular function, pain management, balance and fall risk reduction, enhancing immune response, and improving flexibility, strength, and kinesthetic sense.”

IMAG1195 (1)

Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance

A scientist at the Oregon Research Institute, Fuzhong Li, PhD, developed a program called Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance (TCMBB), a simplified 8-form routine which was first implemented in 2004. His research with participant groups reveals that a regular practice is able to reduce fall risk by approximately 50% in persons not previously exercising regularly. This is more than any other form of physical activity, including yoga, aerobics or resistance training.

TCMBB has been endorsed by the Centers of Disease Control and the National Council on Aging. The program is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Workshops are delivered via two 1-hour sessions each week for 12 weeks. These are currently available free of charge in many communities to persons 60 years of age and older. The promotion of this form of Tai Chi is part of a national effort to reduce the burden of Medicare costs directly related to fall injuries, now running at over $25 billion annually.

The program has been an outstanding success as students invariably find the movements easy and enjoyable to learn and perform. Attendees leave feeling refreshed and having greater freedom of movement. A pre and post physical activity assessment gives data regarding attendees’ improvements in physical functionality that is useful to both class members and the governing agencies.

Local Classes

In Gainesville, Florida where I live, TCMBB workshops are constantly being offered through our Area Agency on Aging, Elder Options. I teach in the NW area of town. At the Senior Center there are always classes in session as well as an informal group of former TCMBB attendees that meet to practice the form a couple afternoons a week.

For more information on upcoming classes and pre-registration, you can contact either the administrator of Elder Options, Betty Flagg at (352) 692-5219 or Liz Dalusio at 692-5252. Email inquiries to flaggb@agingresources.org. Try and class and experience the benefits in your own health and well-being!

Book Review: Beyond Embarrassment

I was asked to review this book by JoAnne Lake, published in 2106, and was happy to do so as it addresses a little known and serious health problem. The book is no doubt one of the best resources available to anyone struggling with the condition of Neurogenic Bladder (NB). It’s an interesting and very informative read, covering the causes of NB and the author’s own medical history and struggles. A large portion of the 247 pages of text is devoted to coping strategies – physical, emotional and spiritual.

I believe anyone who needs information on this difficult medical condition and/or encouragement in dealing with neurogenic bladder will find a wealth of both within the pages of Beyond Embarrassment. I highly recommend it for health professionals as well as those whose lives are challenged with this nerve/bladder dysfunction.

I learned a great deal from reading the book and gained understanding of the struggles that persons who suffer with this condition endure as well as the hazards of certain procedures. The vaginal hysterectomy in particular appears to be one of the leading causal factors.

The question and answer sections which are primarily composed of letters JoAnne received from readers of her blog detailing their personal stories are enlightening. Additionally, the detailed appendices are valuable additions to JoAnne’s very human and engaging book.