The first hint of Snow


For my friends around the world who do not live in the Upper Midwest, here is our first bit of snow for 2015.  The kids were so excited last night when we exited a choir concert to falling snow flakes.  I wish I could have captured their excitement.  This evening, four-year-old Ben asked for a bowl so that he could fill it with snow and sprinkle it with homemade caramel sauce made by his older sister, Lydia.

Rachel and I had a mother/daughter morning out, attending the meeting of the Lakes & Prairies Smockers, a chapter of the Smocking Arts Guild of America.  I sometimes question why I drive 1 hour and 25 minutes to attend, but every time I am reminded of the reason.  I am encouraged and inspired by the beautiful garments created by the talented ladies in this chapter.  Our chapter president also taught a lesson on ‘slidders’ (the original name for the zip) and taught how to hand-pick a zipper.

The drive to Richfield was enjoyable.  I was thankful for clear roads (back to the topic of snow).  The snow fell in Rochester, but not farther north in Richfield.

Finally, I am excited to announce, I will carry the new magazine, Classic Sewing.  Contact me for details,



A bit of fall in Minnesota, and a little vest

We’ve had a beautiful fall in Minnesota.  The fall colors have been spectacular.  We’ve grabbed opportunities to enjoy it between extracurricular activities and new college level responsibilities.


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I recently finished a vest for my son, Sam, a just-in-time delivery as the temperature in Minnesota cools. The pattern was created by ‘Mansie Wauch’, a friend who is a retired cutter in Liverpool. The wool is an Italian boiled wool found at Ginny’s Fine Fabric in Rochester.  I am learning firsthand  that tailoring is an art that requires much study and practice. It takes time and patience.  My work is not perfect.  I learned there is a lighthearted term in the tailoring trade for hand-made buttonholes that need more fullness in the number of stitches, that is “smashed beetles”.  To the naked eye, though, my buttonholes are just fine for an eight-year-old boy’s vest.  Even so, I continue to learn.  I’m thankful for the opportunity.



Sam  is   Sam2

Mucros News Boys Hat

This morning my family was anxious for me to open a birthday present that just arrived in the mail. (My birthday is not until November 13.) My husband bought for me a Mucros Weaver’s tweed newsboys hat. It’s charcoal wool tweed with a bit of red. Inside, it’s lined and has a little tag that says, “Mucros Weavers, Muckross House, Killarney, Ireland. I LOVE it! It is very comfortable, fitting down over my ears. It will be ideal for outside activities in Minnesota…as our temperature is dropping, it’s raining now and then, and we all know what’s next: SNOW.

I did a quick Google search, and found Mucros Weaver’s Face book page, and this video. I’ll let their models show off my hat……and I love seeing inside their weaver’s site.

I’ll be wearing it this evening when my kids visit our neighbor’s homes while ‘trick or treating’. I will keep warm…  I might just wear it all day.

Happy Halloween, stay safe, stay warm.



The Dodge County Fair 2015

Another year has come and gone at the Dodge County Fair.  I thought I’d share a few of our favorite photos from the event in Kasson, Minnesota.  My kids enjoyed showing their spaniels, a clothing and textiles project, blueberry-lime jam, peach jam, and a fine arts drawing.  They had a lovely time.  The photos during the canine show were taken by a local photographer, Laura Seljan Photography.

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Chevrons and Bows

My daughter, Rachel, age 10, created a “Chevrons and Bows” Maxi skirt and top for the 4-H Clothing and Textiles “Clothes You Make” project and participated in the Fashion Revue yesterday evening at the Kasson Methodist Church.


Her inspiration started with a length of chevron bamboo knit found during a shopping trip at Ginny’s Fine Fabric with her three older sisters.  Using the Children’s Corner “Ainsley” pattern, she altered the A-line skirt, lengthening it to the floor.  For the top, she started with measurements suggested for a pillowcase top, found online.  She used Swiss lined pique because she liked the surface texture and the coverage.  She created a neckline casing for the ribbons in English voile from Acorn Fabrics.  All her inside seams are nicely finished with French seams.


She found the turquoise and white ribbons at the Kasson Variety Store locally and matching flip flops at Target.

She learned a few things during her three-day sewing project:

–how to cut bias strips and finish the arm scye with a binding

–how to create a casing

–how to create a French seam

–how to sew bamboo knit without ripples

–how to hem bamboo knit using seam tape


Earlier in the day, Rachel met with 4-H judges to present her garment for their review of her construction quality.  The judges ask each participant several questions about their garment and the techniques involved, and they give suggestions on how to improve their sewing skill.  In the evening, the participants present their garment to an audience during the Fashion Revue.  Rachel received a blue ribbon for her project.  The green ribbon is received by each participant.


I enjoyed seeing all the garments sewn by the kids of all ages.  There were many very well done outfits this year.  Likely, there will be a photo in the Dodge County Independent in the coming weeks.

A few young guys in Dodge County also had a little fun with the Fashion Revue by entering the “Clothes You Buy” category.  As is fitting in rural Minnesota, they purchased hunting gear and presented their wares, just like any other candidate.

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Tim, on the right, resembles a bush.  Mason, on the left, resembles cloth brush.  Both are definitely well camoflouged.  In their honor, the theme of the event was developed:  “On the Hunt for Fashion.”  I learned this gear is suitable for hunting critters other than the White Tail Deer.  Mason explained that their gear would be pointless for deer hunting, because the hunter has to have approximately 1/3 of their bodies covered in Orange.  Tim said when the judge asked him “with what attitude should you participate in an event like this?,” he responded, “You should participate with confidence and an attitude that you don’t care what other people think.”  Mason commented on his makeup, noting that “makeup like this doesn’t just happen.”  (His makeup being of the camo type, of course.)  It’s clear that everyone had a good time.




Bishop in Bearissima

Not too long ago, I spent some time doing a little pleating.  I wanted to experience for myself the differences in two fabrics in particular, English voile and Swiss batiste, which is called Bearissima, made in Switzerland and distributed in the United States by Bear Threads Inc.  Swiss is said to be the best of the best, and it is a requirement in the higher levels of the Artisan program of the Smocking Arts Guild of America.

A while back, I shared a picture of the English voile, and told about how nicely it pleated.  The pleats are crisp and stay just as planned.  It’s truly a beautiful, sheer fabric.  Both are 100% cotton.

Bearissima is also lovely, and I want to share it with you as well.

Here it is on the ironing table, blocked for a little bishop gown, after pleating:

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Can you see how sheer and lovely it is?

I am looking forward to working smocking stitches on this piece.  This will be a family heirloom, so I am taking my sweet time.

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Rachel’s Smocked Top and Skirt Remake

Prior to the hand bells finale this Spring, Rachel’s black silk smocked dress needed an alteration.  There had been an accident.  My mom always said, “Accidents do happen…”  And, an accident did happen to Rachel’s special black silk smocked dress.  There were tears.  She didn’t mean to.  Rachel had put her dress on to show a friend, then zipped outside and hopped on her brother’s little bike…  Seconds later, she tore into the house with tears…..  She had mangled the skirt of her dress with the wheels of the tricycle.  All in a few seconds.


One Spring day, I spent a little time (5 hours) changing it into a smocked top and A-line skirt.  Thankfully the damage to the skirt was low enough that I was able to remove it without difficulty.  I purchased a new yard of silk charmeuse from Ginny’s Fine Fabric to create a new A-line skirt.  I removed the lace from the hem of the dress and added it to the new hem of the smocked top.  I purchased a different narrow lace,  and added it to the hem of the skirt.

Problem solved.


Tears changed to smiles.  And the hand bell ringers play on.