New Year Greetings

We’ve enjoyed having our whole family home for the holidays this year.  After a very busy fall, it has been good to come to a screeching halt and just enjoy time together, playing games, doing puzzles, watching old movies… There are just a few days now before we return to our normal school routine and all the extra curricular activities resume.

During our free time yesterday, Hannah and Maddy made this Nordic Ski cake.  I thought I would share the cheer.


We’ve had unusually cold (sub zero) weather in Minnesota the past few weeks.  Not that I am complaining.  My Nordic Skiers are hoping for more snow.  We are expecting 20 degrees F by the weekend!!

Happy New Year!


Polka Dots & Easter 2017

I’m seeing polka dots everywhere.  I decided to make what I think is the simplest of shells using Burda young 6540 in Bear Threads’ Swiss navy and white polka dot fabric.  (This shell can be made in an hour or so!  Although,  I took my time with french seams and all!)  When Rachel and I noticed we had both put our polka dots on the other day, we had to have a picture.  A mother/daughter moment!

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Bear Threads’ Swiss fabrics are among my favorites.  The skirt I’m wearing is also Bear Threads Swiss wide-wale pique.  It’s a tailor-made straight skirt I made last year before my oldest daughter graduated from high school using my own draft, and I wore it to her graduation ceremony with a purchased blouse.  I have worn it comfortably since.  Both are very comfortable.

As for Easter 2017, I didn’t take a single picture.  But, instead, I enjoyed the day.  The time got away from picture-taking moments.  Hannah, my oldest daughter, was home from college.  We had a lovely time with her home!  We were involved in an Easter cantata, and some were working in the nursery.  Afterwards, we created a ‘paella’, a Spanish meal with saffron rice, chicken, shrimp and chorizo and peas scattered all around; all of which broke tradition for our family, but was a lot of fun.  Even later, we biked or roller bladed to the chocolate shoppe (a true Perry family Sunday tradition).

We didn’t stress about what to wear for Easter; though the inspiration to create something to wear never fails.  Lydia, Madeline and Rachel each had a dress they had started some time ago, but abandoned due to school and extracurricular demands on their time.  The sweetest thing was that each of the girls *wanted* to pull out their projects, and they worked hard to finish them.  Hannah had come home from college a few days before and graciously lent her help to Madeline, while she did not have a new dress to finish and wear.  She wore a dress from a year ago.  I enjoyed helping Rachel with her dress, and since this one wasn’t a 4-H project with any rule about a mom’s help, I worked to finish hers while she was busy at a track practice!  Ah… it brought back memories of when I did sew for my daughters…

I love my kids.

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Concert Skirts

I think one of my favorite things to create is attire for concerts.  We’ve had some fun times lately, and I feel I should catch up on my sharing.  First, about the concert.  Then I’ll get to Easter 2017.


Recently, four of my kids had the opportunity to sing with the Deo Cantamus adult’s choir and the choir of the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota.  My three daughters needed a new concert-style skirt.

We found that Ginny at Ginny’s Fine Fabrics carries lovely fabric for this need.  Each of my three daughters found a fabric suited to their taste and personality.  Rachel, who is 12, chose a woven black fabric and a netting with black polka-dots all around.  She created an a-line, knee-length skirt.  Lydia, 17, created a skirt with the same woven fabric, but made one with tucks at the waist line.  Madeline, 15, chose a Moda knit and made a long maxi skirt.

As is the standard in children’s choirs, the black skirts were paired with the choir’s logo t-shirt of the chosen blue color.

The concert was beautiful.  I enjoyed the music.  But I also enjoyed watching as my daughters walked with the rest of the choir to the stage and back again, knowing the work that they each did for themselves and remembering the times we had.   It was a good time together.

Apple Walnut Tart

Breaking through the hum drum of everyday life, my daughter, Maddy, tried her hand at making this apple walnut tart by Allie at Baking A Moment. 


“Too pretty to eat–almost,” is about right, as noted by Hip Foodie Mom.  Thank you, Alice, at Hip Foodie Mom, for writing about and sharing this recipe.  The crust is created with walnuts, and I like it!  The apples are painted with a mixture of maple syrup and lemon juice.  It was an unusual treat for breakfast this morning.

It’s equally pretty in just one piece.


I appreciate Allie’s joy for cooking.  It’s refreshing.

Radical Mending

This weekend, I spent a little time being environmentally radical.  My husband’s zipper had broken on his orange biking jacket.  During my last visit to Ginny’s Fine Fabric, I purchased a better-than-ever-before zipper for $9.  In my route, delivering kids to track practice, I stopped by Only Shoe Repair, where Ginny said they could easily remove a few teeth from the zipper to fit my husband’s jacket perfectly.


I spent about a 1/2 hour last weekend, ripping out the old zipper and replacing it with the new.  I was told this kind of work would cost about $60 (on a different jacket than the one referred to here; possibly the other jacket would have been more involved in the zipper removal).


My husband has worn this jacket since my parents gave it to him as a Christmas gift about 10 years ago.  It is his biking jacket.  For extra safety, I’m glad he wears the color orange while biking the 14 miles to and from work.

Mending isn’t always perfectly clean.  What I mean is that there is a cost for the repair, and it doesn’t always go perfectly.  Any alteration can cause a mar on the garment.  So I do review closely whether an alteration is the best plan.  Maybe you can see it, there is a little scuff on the very top of the jacket front edge.  I did my best to stitch it up, but it’s still a mar.

However, mending has been a way to add a little to the bottom line of my family’s budget.  It’s not often thought about these days, but it’s still true that ‘a penny spar’d is twice got,’ said George Herbert in 17th Century England.  A new coat would be somewhere between $60 and $139.  My husband likes to point out by mending little fixes, we can decide when we purchase a new garment, and when we do, we might move up in the level of quality of the item.  For example, by mending the old jacket and getting a few more wearings out of it, I can delay my purchase for a few weeks, maybe longer.  Then, instead of buying a jacket sold at Walmart for $19.99, I might have the ability to purchase a Colombia jacket at Macy’s for $60, or even a few weeks later, I might be able to go for something for $179 at Pendleton USA.  See where that goes?  It’s a bit of freedom.

You might be laughing by now.  Most conversations I’ve had with fellow American moms go something like this:  “Mending?  *laughter* “Who spends the time to mend clothing when you can throw it out and buy something new?”  I’ll admit, sometimes that’s true.  Sometimes I succumb to that line of thinking as well.  We pass a lot of clothing between families and just find something new or used to replace the garment.  We have enough to do already, so why mend?  Will we even remember how?

The Patagonia company calls mending ‘a radical act’ and the cleanest way to help our environment.  They are talking about how effective it can be for the environment, and they’re even teaching people how to mend again.






Ben’s Wool-filled Blanket

We decided recently it’s time for Ben to receive his own wool blanket, made by the St. Peter Woolen Mill, in St. Peter, Minnesota.  This is something we’ve done for each of our children as well as ourselves:  a cotton quilt with a warm wool batting…the best thing to take the chill off a cold Minnesota night.

The quilt top shown here was made of fabric scraps from corduroy clothing my husband’s mother had made for him when he was small, in the 70’s.  His mother had sewn them into quilt blocks, but tucked them away with the busyness of life. The blocks were recently found and passed to us by my father-in-law. My daughter decided to sew them into a quilt top and then also set it aside.

We pulled it out again and turned it into a twin-size quilt for Ben’s bed.  I found a navy corduory by B. Black & Sons at Ginny’s Fine Fabrics and added a border.  My husband stopped by Eagle Creek Quilt Shop in Shakopee, Minnesota, when he was on business in the area, and found a navy cotton backing fabric. I packaged the quilt top and backing fabric up, and off it all went to the St. Peter’s Woolen Mill for assembly.

This is the eighth blanket we’ve had made at the St. Peter’s Woolen Mill.  Most often, we’ve sent a few yards of our chosen quilting fabric, no piecing required.  Twice, we’ve had a quilt top that has a little sentimental value, like this one, to send over.  They take it from there.

Several years ago, my family visited the St. Peter’s Woolen Mill for a tour.  We enjoyed seeing the large machinery they use to clean and prepare wool (old or new) for various uses, like wool battings for quilts and comforters.  The wool batting is covered in cheese cloth before it is put into a blanket.  The mill also has a very large room with industrial sewing machines where they assemble blankets.

Now I know Ben will be very comfortable in the winter months when the temperature is very cold outside and the house thermometer is set to 65 degrees F.

Tweed and bindings

My opportunities to sew seem fewer and farther between lately, thus my low frequency in posting here.  To be fair to myself, though, I have knocked off a few UFOs lately.  Clearing the decks and making way for greater things.

Last week, I finished a tailored skirt for myself (which wasn’t a UFO at all, but something I wanted to do.)  The best part of this skirt is that it fits me.  I drafted my own pattern and have tried and trued it.  Now it is ‘simples’ to make a skirt for myself.  It is a simple straight, tailored skirt with a kick pleat, which  gives ease for the stride.  It is made of a tweed fabric found at Ginny’s Fine Fabric, and it is lined with Bemberg lining. It is very comfortable. I wore it this weekend with a cream colored sweater, brown boots and a matching scarf.

Also this week, I re-bound an old quilt.  Quilting has not been my hobby for some time.  I prefer creating clothing.  But, this quilt is like an old friend.  I made it in about 2002 when my third daughter was a baby.  A friend in Colorado gave a few sewing lessons to me.  She was an avid quilter, and she showed me a technique for creating the pinwheels on this quilt.  The quilt decorated my husband’s and my bed, a wooden sleigh bed, for about 10 years.  It used to have white panels on all sides and a border with small triangle blocks, making it a king-size quilt, but the embossed fabric gave way.  I decided to remove the panels and re-bind it, saving it as a keepsake.  Since my husband needed to work for a day in Shakopee, he agreed to stop by the Eagle Creek Quilt Shop, and purchase a navy quilt weight fabric for my task.  I still love the pattern.  I wish the fabric had lasted longer, like the quilts of old.

My apologies for writing so little.  2016 was a year of transition for my family.  My oldest daughter is off to college.  She is doing very well, and we are so proud of her.  She hopes to become a pediatric nurse.

Also in 2016, I quietly ended my small business.  It has been a delightful experience providing smocking and heirloom sewing supplies to many wonderful people for ten years, but I am needed in many more ways with my family now.  I plan to continue sewing and encouraging others who are keeping the art of sewing alive.  I thought I would share my list of my favorite suppliers:

Ginny’s Fine Fabric

Acorn Fabric

Huddersfield Cloth

John Hanna Ltd.

Creative Smocking

Farmhouse Fabrics

Chadwick Heirlooms

Delicate Stitches

Creations by Michie

Collars Etc.


For quilters:

Eagle Creek Quilts

Wholesale Only:

Bear Threads Ltd.

B. Black & Sons





A Tailored Vest, and a sincere thank-you

This Post is re-posted from the Cutter and Tailor Forum, in order to share it here as well.

I want to share the vest that I worked on during 2015-2016. I am a beginner in the area of tailoring, and I have been working under the direction of Mansie Wauch, from the Cutter and Tailor Forum, and locally Virginia Smith at Ginny’s Fine Fabric.

I had in my possession a few yards of a red check wool cloth that I’m told was woven by the Amana Colonies, purchased by my late mother-in-law. I decided it would be a suitable (if not perfect) opportunity to try making a vest that is hand drafted and fitted to myself. I purchased B. Black & Sons’ hair canvas and Bemberg lining through Ginny’s Fine Fabric in Rochester, Minnesota.

The past few years, I have been on a mission to work through pattern drafting for the purpose of gaining a better understanding of pattern making and fitting. I recognize that hand pattern drafting is an expensive endeavor in time and effort, and there are CAD systems for this purpose, as well as a plethora of available patterns, but I wanted to try my hand at it and learn for myself. I kept the overall design simple, as I wanted to focus on fit, and matching the check (plaid).

I followed Sator’s encouragement that a first attempt would take at least 6 months, and the clothing article might be only worthy of the trash bin at the end. However, I’ll admit I had a secondary goal of making something I’d still use. This project did, in fact, require hours of reading any resource I could find through the tailor’s forum. The key resources I found helpful were the Art of Garment Making, by A. A. Whife, and Coat and Skirt Making, by Samuel Heath.

The lapel is interlined with hair canvas and hand pad stitched, and so are the fronts and the back. It is stayed with linen tape. I experienced the difficulty and care involved in this traditional tailoring method.

There are three hand-made button holes worked here, though I will not yet share a close up picture of my work there… It is a work in progress, but they are functioning well so far. I greatly appreciate Callum at Bay Tailor Supply in California. He provides a nice service of matching the buttonhole twist to the cloth, as well as the gimp. I found the buttons at Ginny’s Fine Fabric.

I struggled with several things during this project; too many to put into this thank-you note.  There are many things I could have done better. But, overall I am pleased with my vest. It is as I envisioned it. It has an equestrian theme (having to do with my rural upbringing), and likely a rural or country flare. I wore it several times this fall with tall boots and jeans, fitting the relaxed mood in the Rochester, Minnesota, area. It is the most comfortable vest I own, and it will be a long-term piece of clothing in my wardrobe.

I share this project because I believe tailoring is a beautiful art, and I want to encourage others to pursue it. I also want to say thank you publicly to Mansie Wauch, who is generous with his knowledge of cutting and tailoring. I also feel a thank-you is due to all who have worked to bring this forum about. I have appreciated reading the various posts over the past few years.


Stumpwork Class with Susan OÇonnor

It was a lovely time attending the Stumpwork class with Susan OÇonnor in Richfield, Minnesota, on September 17, along with the ladies of the Lakes & Prairies Chapter of the Smocking Arts Guild of America.  We had the opportunity to learn needle art techniques necessary to create the “raspberry and bluebell” design below.


We were provided with a project kit which included a piece of duchess silk satin and squares of an appropriate-weave muslin to work the ‘slips’, 28 gauge gold wire, and DMC thread.   The project instructions were in the familiar format we all enjoyed when Susan served as the editor in chief of Australian Smocking & Embroidery.  It was a wonderful opportunity to learn under Susan.  She is a great teacher and a delightful person.

Meeting at the Pines, we enjoyed lunch with Susan.  Again, I greatly enjoyed meeting Susan, having been an enthusiastic fan for so many years of Australian Smocking & Embroidery magazine.


Of course, we had very little time to visit with one another, and then it was back to stitching!  The class extended into Sunday afternoon, and I was not able to attend the second session, due to family obligations and a college-aged daughter being home for her birthday; however, I was so glad to attend on Saturday with my dear friends.  I’m looking forward to working through this project as the cool weather rolls into Fall in Minnesota.

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Our many thanks to Susan OÇonnor…