Monthly Archives: January 2016

Curtains

When I first moved into this house I made actual lined drapes with the pleats for my family room.  They were necessary because once upon a time the family room was the TV room of the house, and the afternoon/evening sun blazed in and disturbing viewing.  But the windows were short, because the family room is in the basement.  I made short lined blue drapes, crisp with pleats and curtain hooks.  When I think back about them, I am kind of amazed at myself that I got them made as well as I did.  No pictures, it was far too long ago.  The curtains eventually succumbed to sun fade and cats.  It was kind of a sad day when they came down for the last time.

The lesson I learned was that I could make curtains.  Now mind you, just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you WANT to.

20160120_184905Six years ago, during a real, honest-to-goodness blizzard when work was cancelled and I was trapped at home, I made a project of making made lined, tab topped curtains for my large new replacement sliding glass door in the dining room. The new door had replaced French doors that I had made lace panels to fit top and bottom inside the frame for the glass.  They were not “private”, but very pretty.  The door had to be replaced eventually though and I opted for a sliding glass door.

This door is huge, and it takes a lot of fabric to adequately cover it.  As luck would have had it, I had a giant piece of lightweight wheat upholstery fabric that was given to me some time ago, and that I found was suddenly begging to become a new curtain.  Applying measurements and math, I found was just short enough that I was not going to have enough to make curtains with adequate fullness — unless I got creative.  With nothing but snow and time on my hands, I found some brown fabric that I added to the top and bottom, and tabs making my curtain a perfect fit.

The lesson I learned from these curtains is I certainly can make them, but I don’t really like making them.  Curtains this size are usually big, bulky, hard to measure in small spaces without using the floor, and really difficult to press on a standard ironing board.  I have a short memory.

20160130_150727Four or five years later, and having forgotten lessons, I decided I must finally re-cover the window formerly covered by the crisp blue pleated curtains.  An inexpensive upholstery remnant from Pottery Barn, some white fabric for lining and they turned out pretty nicely.  This particular window may be wide, but nice and short, so there’s not a lot of bulk required.  It helped that the fabric was exactly wide top to bottom to not require much cutting at all.

In December, I stained my bathroom cabinets.  Turns out gel stain is apparently communicable.  Note the lovely stain spot on the above large curtain.  That stain isn’t coming out.  At all.  Ever.  I also noticed that after six years of use, the curtain was pretty worn on the lower right corner too — lots of rubbing by dogs going in and out of the door.  The brown fabric had faded, and there was no amount of starch that was going to make them look crisp again.
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I also had a big bolt of light beige upholstery fabric that was screaming at me, “make me curtains.”  I used the prior curtains for measurements, found a nice coordinating upholstery fabric for the top and bottom, and set out to make curtains.

Now I remember as I’m crawling on the floor — I don’t like making huge curtains.  At all.  But I’m committed, and here they are.  I see errors — this fabric was wider than the original fabric and I didn’t account for that, so they’re pretty full.  I also measured the lining without taking the top stripe in account, so the lining is a bit too short.  But they’re done and I’ve decided I’m my own worst critic.  They don’t have a spot on them so I’m happy.

On to the next project.  And it won’t be curtains.

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How Did I Get Here?

I am Milady.

How did I get here?  It’s a fundamental question.  It is probably a question everyone reflects on in some unconscious way all the time, but because they know the answer it just flies in and out of their head without much consideration.

I can’t really do that.  I am Milady.  My parents are Rose Evelyn and Information Not Given.  I can’t remember anything from birth to age four, save a couple of snippets of my grandfather’s home on North 11th Street in Kansas City, Kansas.  I remember my grandfather very fondly, then he died.  I spent the years between four and 10 essentially living out of a turd brown 1962 Chevy Nova station wagon.  The next eight years, from 10 to 18, are the ones that probably shaped me more than any other, but it still doesn’t answer the fundamental question, how did I get here?

BlankBox.JPGJust to be clear, I have never really fixated on the missing information.  It’s just there, and it is what it is.  It would come up every now and then.  That blank box.  The one that kept me from filling out my passport application online because the form wouldn’t accept anything other than a full name for parental information.  The one that made me worry about my security check for my Federal job.

My mother told me one story, then another, and then others.  I always knew that there might have been a shred of truth in each story, but none of them were “the” story.  Mom had what I called convenient memory — she remembered things the way that was most convenient to her, and then she believed it, so it was truth to her.  What was inconvenient or embarrassing to her, just didn’t make it into her story, and she really didn’t think much about how she told it.  She had no problem telling me as a child that I was not loved or wanted.  But it is what it is, and I never spent a lot of time pondering it and just assumed I’d never really know.  Over the years others had approached my mom with questions, and she was just as creative with them.  We got some great quotes though.  Glenda, who was my “mom” for many years, was adamant I needed to know and she had a long conversation with my mom once.  All she got out of it was that apparently the sex was “hot,” but nothing more.  And yes, that was the word used.  Ick.

I once had a client that was a private detective.  To help pay his bill with me, he did some research on a name and story that my mother had settled on after I was 12.  I just kind of assumed that the shred of truth was that second name.  My step-dad had once found my mother crying over an obituary when I was 15 or 16, and she claimed then it was the man that was my father.  She told my aunt the name, giving a certain amount of credence to the story.  The detective researched, found the obituary my mom likely had referenced.  He died in the mid-1970s, so the timing was right.  I just filed the info away in my brain and left it with that.  I had a sneaking suspicion that he, or whoever it was, never even knew I existed, and if he were dead, my mom didn’t have to give it another thought.

In 2014, my husband gave me a Ancestry.com DNA kit for Christmas.  I sat and stared at it for six months before I finally spit in the vial and sent it off.  I’m not sure why I waited, other than it was just that blank box thing again.  I just wasn’t sure it would tell me anything new.  I’ve always felt like I was on the periphery of my family anyway, and it wasn’t going to change any of that.

EthnicityEstimateIn 2015, I got my ancestry profile.  It actually was kind of fun.  I’d always assumed that I was predominantly Scotch/Irish based on my mother’s ancestry.  Well, not so much.  Turns out I’m primarily Western European and British — my mother’s ancestors came from France and England.  That was news to me.  I felt a little let down that I wasn’t as Celtic as I’d imagined, but it is what it is.

I shared my results with my maternal cousins, and one took an interest.  He was so curious, he did his own DNA kit.

PredictedRelationshipThe first confirmation was that Ancestry.com immediately matched our DNA and made our relationship first cousins.  A fact has been established.  This is just about the most concrete evidence of where I came from that I’ve ever had.

Then we noticed something.  We had shared DNA matches.  Ancestors on my mother’s side.  It was an actual path that I could follow.  My husband was fascinated by the whole thing and worked my genealogy back to something like 700 AD.  There’s landlords, Countesses and castles in the lineage.  Perhaps I am a little bit of a milady after all.

That lead me to the DNA matches that my cousin and I did not share.  The obvious implication is they came from whoever my father was.  My closest relative on that side is a second cousin.  That means we have shared great grandparents.  I’ve talked to her, and her aunt on her mom’s side, and it seems logical that I’m from her mother’s branch of her family tree, because that’s the branch that was from Kansas City.  We haven’t quite figured it all out, and I still can’t say I know who my father is, but I can tell you who he wasn’t.  He wasn’t the name my mother gave me when I was 12, that she cried over an obituary for, and that the private investigator researched for me many years later.  He may be one of the names mom mentioned in her waning years as dementia was taking over.  I will never know.  Based on the little bit of evidence I have, it looks like the possible candidate, who is deceased now, was at time of my conception substantially younger than my mom, probably around the age of 20 to her age 31.  That would have been a fling that my mother would never in a million years have admitted to because it would have been far too embarrassing for her.  Que that convenient memory.

The one conclusion I can come to is it is very reasonable to believe that my father, whoever he was, had absolutely no idea he ever had a child named Milady out there.  I can believe that telling me I was not loved or wanted was at its least unfair.  That may be all I ever get, but it’s more than I had.  It is what it is.  I’m here.

I am Milady.

A Little Catching Up

I have a new toy.  I bought a Singer XL-400 sewing/embroidery machine.  It replaces my starter embroidery machine, a Singer CE-100, which I hated.  Or it hated me.  I’m not sure which.  Fortunately, things are working out better with the new relationship.  I use the XL-400 for embroidery, and I still sew on my old metal Universal, or my Brother electronic.

I’m finding myself somewhat ambivalent about the whole machine embroidery thing.  On the one hand, there’s a science to it, and getting the embroidery to come out looking neat and professional is definitely something that requires practice.  On the other hand, unless you are your own digitizer, you’re really just applying designs someone else has created to your stuff.  It’s nice to personalize things, like the coin purses below, and even the kitchen set had a little bit of personalization on it, but it’s not like I actually made the artwork I’m using myself, I’m just interpreting someone else’s work.  I’ll come to terms eventually I suppose.

So some recent things I’ve been doing.  Coin purses.  Lots and lots of them.  I made them for Christmas gifts for friends and family.  Did I mention I made a lot of them?  I based my little pouches this year on instructions  at sewmehappyblog, and personalizing them with my handy-dandy embroidery machine.  http://sewmehappyblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/coin-purse-tutorial.html

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Coin Purses

In the midst of making coin purses, I realized my fabric stash was a mess.  If I can distract myself from the project at hand, I certainly will.  I found the organizing project very liberating though and am glad I made time for it.

I started the gift-giving season with a gathering apron for my cousin, who raises chickens.  This apron was made from scratch, using the instructions found Sew4Home, http://www.sew4home.com/projects/kitchen-linens/easy-half-apron-jumbo-pockets, and then I embroidered it.

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Gathering Apron

A few other gifts:

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Dollar Tree Holiday Placemats with embroidered monogram.  The dreaded metallic thread conquered.  (Adorn monogram from Designs by JuJu)

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Dollar Tree kitchen set – required disassembly to embroider.

 

Jewelry travel pouch from Instructables for a friend who makes her own beaded jewelry.

A giant foam finger required a custom Chiefs cuff and optional costume change cuff.  My hubby carried it to the Chiefs v. Raiders game (we won, advancing to the AFC playoffs) on January 2nd.  I created this cuff from scratch and it attaches with a velcro closure in the back.  The Chiefs logos came from a licensed flag we bought specifically to cannibalize and add with Heat ‘N Bond.

A couple of pre-made cheapo aprons that I embroidered.  The green one was for a friend that does ceramics, and the red one I did for myself and used on Thanksgiving Day.

This apron is a crafting tool belt apron I made several years ago.  I’m not sure I remember where I got this idea from, but I’m thinking with a little modification, I could make this a little more user friendly and a cute addition to my project lineup.

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Crafting tool belt.

I also made a purse that I love, started on a base for a costume my husband is making for Comicon, and I worked very hard on an awesome RenFest dress for me.  I’ll add pics of those to another article.

And lastly, today’s project, which is the prototype for a craft show item I’m contemplating.  This heart coin pouch is an “in the hoop” design from Five Star Fonts. My friend that does ceramics wants to combine talents and have a mixed media craft show display sometime in 2016, where we both sell our wares, so I’m pondering what is unique enough, cute enough, and quick enough to make in quantity to do that.  And the back of this cute purse is a lovely blank space just begging for some sort of embroidered saying or appliqued initials.  I’m still pondering.

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Heart Coin Pouch with zipper

The next project I have planned is a sewing only project.  I stained my bathroom vanity and medicine cabinet over the holidays using General Finishes Java gel stain.  Gel stain somehow migrates all over everywhere if you’re not careful, and apparently I was not.  I somehow managed to stain, and ruin in my estimation, my sliding glass door curtain (also made by me) while letting the dogs out.  The good news is this project is all serging straight lines, the fabric I have was a gift, and I don’t have even measure that much, because I can use the current curtain as a guide.  Hopefully I can get it done quickly.

20160120_184905See the spot?  The curtain is six years old and definitely showing wear so it’s time for a new one.

But the bathroom looks amazing.

 

 

It’s been a while ….

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It’s been a while, and I’ve been busy.  I have a new embroidery machine, and made tons of cute personalized coin purses at Christmas.  I’m working on aprons.

And then there’s my latest project, pillows.  The pillows were created from an unwanted king sized dust ruffle for a bed. The biggest constraint was the fabric was only 16″ wide, challenging the size of pillows I could make.  I wound up with four 16″x12″ rectangular pillows, two 14″ bolsters, and a cute round sunburst pillow.  I’ll post more later, but here’s pics of the pillows. These are for a friend, and a project I held off doing much too long.

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I was blessed to be sent a picture of the pillows on the owner’s bed.

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Directions for the round pillow are from Sew4Home, and found here. http://www.sew4home.com/projects/pillows-cushions/round-piped-pillow-gathered-top