‘Growing Up’ Little Dresses for Africa

As many of you know, I love to sew and enjoy making dresses for Little Dresses for Africa. Needless to say, dresses of all sizes are needed. The basic pattern is simple to sew but once the little girls are heading into teen years, the original pattern could possibly be a little snug around the hips. My current ‘invention’ is to cut off the original pattern at the waist and then either half again or double the fabric for the skirt. It makes a becoming dress and there is more freedom of movement. Also, it is a good way to use bits and pieces of fabric to extend the width by getting artistic in how you add the extra fabric to the skirt. This is my trial run so we will see how things go!

I provided a closeup of the waistline to show how the gathers went and the extra row of stitches for wear and tear. I’m finding there are lots of ways to make a basic pattern into something different.

 

Putting the Pieces Together . . .

Putting the Pieces Together – by Barbara M. Barthelette

One of my favorite hobbies is quilting. I like nothing better than taking unwanted scraps of fabric and making them into a whole. Needless to say, many of my projects incorporate pieces of the same fabric. I never thought much about this until someone mentioned that you can tell a Barbara quilt as at least one patch of it matches a dress or shirt worn by one of my family! Whenever I give someone the gift of a quilt, there is a little bit of ‘me’ included. And there have been times when friends have gifted me with pretty fabrics left over from their projects. I guess the ‘wholeness’ of some of my quilts comes from sharing.
Upon further consideration, I realized that we all contain bits and pieces incorporated from the world around us. We also share bits and pieces of our own experiences from the world around us.
You don’t have to look any further back then your own childhood. Besides the physical traits, what else did your parents give you? You can remember words, reactions, or criticisms that have stayed with you until this day. You not only remember these words, they shaped the way you think, act, or react today. In other words, you have a few patches from the fabric of your parent’s lives!
Well, this goes beyond our family. We are forever giving away scraps of ourselves each day through the way we treat others.
What a responsibility God has blessed us with and how few people actually take it to heart! We wouldn’t give people ragged clothing, used cosmetics, or stale food. Why don’t we realize that thoughtless remarks and deliberate hurts are given away forever once they leave your lips? A personal remark is a piece of yourself freely given to another and will become a part of that person’s life. An unkind, personal remark is a mean offering..
If we believe our catechism, we know that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. Why don’t we think about this when we give our fellow human beings a piece of our mind and not of our heart?
I think about this when I quilt and gather up my scraps of fabric to see if they will turn into a quilt. I think about this when I review my day and look over the bits and pieces of life that were handed me along the way. It is just like piecing a quilt as I muse over these feelings and determine where they will fit in the fabric of my life.
Anger, irritability, and even meanness can be a part of our spiritual quilt – just like clashing colors worked into a real quilt. Do they belong there? Do you want them there? When you share your spiritual patchwork, are you passing the ugly, mismatched colors on to others?
A quilt should be put together with happiness and enjoyed. And the overflow of colors you share should be gently tendered in kind words and soft phrases because others want to incorporate the best into their life’s quilt, too.
Wholeness doesn’t just happen. When I make a quilt, I gather my scraps. If I need more, there are people who share. Do we always share in order to insure that others attain wholeness? How are we shaping the pattern of our neighbor’s life?

Another of My Favorite Things

It has come to my attention that even when you do not purchase sugar-free gum or mints, they still include aspartame and such in order to enhance the flavor. I know several people who cannot ingest the questionable artificial sweeteners. I also have found that many of the health store brands of gum usually lose their mint flavor within two chews.

I recently, however, came across XyloBurst which is sugar free AND Aspartame Free. The sweetener is Xylitol which doesn’t have the problems other artificial sweeteners. And, for some wonderful reason, the company has managed to produce a softer gum which retains the flavor for a lot longer. A few other pluses are that it is non-GMO and gluten-free. Some studies have indicated that Xylitol may even reduce the risk of tooth decay and improve oral help.

I found this product on https://www.swansonvitamins.com/. At the time of purchase, the price was under $8 for 100 pieces. Swansons does have sales so it may be more or less when you check it out. It comes in a nice plastic container which makes it convenient for stowing in the glove compartment or a handy nook in your kitchen.

These Are a Few of MY Favorite Things!

I like to browse after I finish my necessary shopping whether at the grocery store or any other store. I don’t buy everything I see, but when I find something that works for my hobbies, my health, or my comfort, I’m willing to indulge. So, thought I’d share a few of my current favorite things.

We are gluten-free at our house because of my husband’s intolerance to wheat products. It took us years to discover the problem so never going to change that aspect of our life. If any of you are gluten-free, I’m willing to bet one of the things you miss the most is any kind of bread product. Yes, you can bake a sort of, not really, reasonable facsimile but it is never quite as satisfying as the real deal. I was an avid bread baker until we had to change the family diet around. You CAN produce a reasonable bread-like outcome on a gluten-free diet but the texture of the dough and the process is different.

I was cruising the Internet a few weeks ago and discovered Authentic Foods – Steve’s Gluten-Free Bread Flour. It promised great things and I purchased some with not too much hope. Bingo! First loaf of bread was amazing with the right texture and a wonderful yeast rise. I currently have a 25-pound bag of the stuff in my former wheat flour storage container! Definitely, number one on my discoveries of late.

Here is an odd, new favorite – Hemp hearts! I saw this at Costco and was intrigued. It has a lot of vitamins including three grams of fiber per serving. Supposedly, it claimed to taste good, too. And, it does! It now gets sprinkled on salads, blended in smoothies, and even enjoyed by the spoonful. I gave one of my sons a bag for his apartment living and his three roommates enjoy it, too. Great for those between-meal hunger pains.

Dry weather and being a constant knitter, crocheter, seamstress is very hard on my hands. I am seldom without chapped hands and split fingers. Buy stock in Liquid Bandage as I keep two bottles in the house constantly. Discovered O’Keeffe’s Skin Repair 48-hour lotion. It stated it was guaranteed to relieve extremely dry and itchy skin. I was desperate. I used it at bedtime and the next morning there was noticeable improvement. Found it at Walmart.

In the realm of gluten-free again, two other flour blends are good additions to my baking/cooking efforts in the kitchen: BetterBatter and Pamela’s All-Purpose Gluten-Free Artisan Flour (Dairy-free, too!) are now staples in my cupboard. BetterBatter has a multitude of recipes on their Internet site for inspiration. Pamela’s is cup for cup for using in formerly favorite regular recipes and especially nice for baking cookies. Again, you can find recipes on-line and try some of your own favorites from the gluten day. I usually buy my flour blends on-line as it is less expensive than health store prices.

My addiction to yarn and crocheting/knitting was satisfied recently. I love making projects with varicolored yarn but couldn’t find exactly the mix of colors that pleased me in the usual offerings. Several months ago, I was looking at the yarn aisle and there was something new! It was a yarn that was soft, came in a larger amount than others for a good price and . . . it was variegated in the most interesting color combinations. I liked the whimsical names of the various choices, too. I recently completed a blanket for one daughter in the color blend ‘Gnome’. It was a wild assortment of vivid almost neon colors with enough somber ones to create a nice result. I’m now working on a blanket for my older son’s birthday and it is called ‘Sphinx’ which is a manly (can we still use the word manly in this day and age?) combination of brown and blue tones. The really nice thing about this yarn is that each skein has a lot more yardage than other brands which makes the under $5.00 a skein actually a bit of a bargain. Right now, Walmart is the only store selling this yarn. It is called Mandala and produced by Lion Brand Yarns.

End of sharing time. Laundry calls and I still haven’t invented dinner for this evening! Would rather be crocheting but them’s the breaks!

Little Dresses for Africa – Another Mailing

After making some repairs and adjustments to our home, I was finally able to settle down this past month and get some dresses and tote bags sewn for Little Dresses for Africa. A trip to the fabric warehouse only helped further my inspirations. Unfortunately, for me, I can sew three or four dresses in a day but always put off actually packing them into boxes and getting them in the mail. That is why I am now taking time this week to finally take on that task. I have almost 50 dresses ready to go out and have run out of room to hang them in the meantime!

Tote bags are  welcome, too, so my fabric scraps are getting put to good use.

Abstract Sewing?

I was an art major in college but marriage and children distracted me from my painting years ago. Discovered, however, that the abstract artist in me is always finding ways to show up in either my cooking/baking or sewing! This week, I got the idea of being more creative with the Little Dresses for Africa and liked what evolved in the course of my sewing!

I had a couple of yards of fabric on the shelf which was enough to make a dress but the color on its own was a bit dull. I went to one of my scrap boxes (yes, I have more than one, don’t ask!) and found some complementary bits and pieces of fabric that worked well and with a little applique time, turned into a ‘original’ creation. The second dress didn’t have enough fabric for one dress but with some cutting and adjusting, it melded into a whole dress that will probably never be repeated.

From My ‘Sewing Center’!

Blessed with some extra time this past month, I was able to make some more Little Dresses for Africa and spent this week getting them packed for mailing. With my daughter grown, this has been a perfect outlet for sewing little girl dresses. It is fun to mix and match colors, change the pattern around a bit to ‘invent’ a new look, and put decorative touches on the dresses with the addition of two pockets on every dress.

Anyone out there interested in doing this, you can get all the information, dress pattern, etc., here: http://www.littledressesforafrica.org/blog/

Since I like to include a tee shirt with each dress, I often get remarks from other shoppers when I come to the register with an armload of them. One time, the lady in front of me at the check out asked what on earth I was doing with so many tee shirts and I explained. She suddenly got a glimmer in her eye and mused, “My babies are all grown and I STILL love to sew . . .” She immediately asked for information and I imagine she is busy with some worthwhile sewing even as I type! Another time, the cashier asked about my purchases and said she doesn’t sew a lot but the pattern seemed easy and said she was going to see about doing this, too.