Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Big Hang

Good Morning Everyone! Well, it happened, but not without a few glitches. I decided to make this a day to celebrate all the donations, so rather than hang mine, we hung a total of 800 pillowcases. I did have a few maybe 30 or so sprinkled in just to make sure we made it to 800 :) A friend of mine who is a professional pilot, came to fly along with me as I really wanted to fly the last photo mission. Well, this is where it all sadly went wrong. The lens on my camera is just too small for such a fast moving target. I got pictures of everything but the pillowcases. By the time I would get the camera focused on what I wanted, the plane had moved on. The only picture that at least gives a glimpse of the pillowcases is below. It's not a great picture, but at least you can get a small idea of just how lovely it was from above.
Here's my friend Keith who flew along with me and his two boys. This was their first time in a small plane and they LOVED it!!
Pilot to be George :)
and my little godson, Kenny. What a cutie pie :) I'm not at all partial ;) Recognize my bag in the back on the floor?!!
As we drove back from the airport, I thought that I could possibly leave the pillowcases up over night and have my friend who has a large camera flyover first thing this morning. He told me that the winds were supposed to pick up and become quite gusty, so I didn't want to take a chance of leaving them up and the pillowcases getting blown to kingdom come. Then Keith, my pilot friend had an idea, "why don't I get on the roof of the house?" Hey, it was worth a try. The next two pictures are from the roof of my house and I think they are really quite wonderful. 
I really love the one below.
Our neighbor has a beautiful deck that looks out over the river and he offered for us to come and take some pictures from the deck. He said that the pillowcases looked amazing from there and I think they really did. The deck isn't as high as the roof of my house, but it still gives a nice perspective
This isn't a bad picture, it was taken from inside the house. You can see that there are a LOT of pillowcases!!!
Below is my girlfriend Pam, her oldest son Bill, Pam's mother Cecilia and my fellow Haute Couture friend, Alison. They stayed behind and finished hanging while we drove out to the airport.
Bill is quite the accomplished musician. I think this is about the best compliment. He said, "I really wish I could keep one!" I now know what I can make for him for Christmas :)
Once the pillowcases were hung, the ladies and Bill went in for a bowl of Pozole, you may remember I made it here, and a spirited game of Monopoly. I put the Pozole together on Thursday night and set it on low in my crock pot. Worked out beautifully!
I love the candid shots that my husband was able to catch.
 A final shot of all who participated, well, except my husband and he deserves a big, big thanks for all the work he did to help make this happen.
When I began the drive for the pillowcases, all I had was a thought that it could be done. Now it has been done and it's even bigger than I imagined. So I would like to leave you with this.
Thank you to everyone who made this happen. On a quiet street in Chicago, you were celebrated.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Blessed Beyond Compare

Before I begin the mad rush of cooking, I thought I would sit down and reflect just a bit on a few of the things I am so thankful for.
I'm grateful that I have always cherished my past and although many of my relatives are now gone, I continue to learn from their example. This quilt was made by my great-aunt when she was nine years old. She told me that she had used all of the scrap fabric that she could find and was short of what she needed to complete the quilt. So she made patterns and took them to school where she passed them out to her friends and asked if their mothers would contribute to the project. They did and she finished her quilt. Before she died, she gave the quilt to me. It keeps me warm on cold winter nights, my body as well as my soul. 
 A whole cloth quilt made by my great-grandmother. Plain and simple, but a workhorse nonetheless.
There is hidden treasure inside this quilt, another quilt, probably made by my great-great-grandmother. Nothing was ever wasted. Notice the beautiful stitching and how perfectly spaced it is.
A lingerie basket that my grandmother crocheted for me not long before she died. The top frame is an old embroidery hoop. She loved being able to make beautiful things and even more she loved to share.
The generosity that my great aunt experienced with her quilt, I have experienced with pillowcases given by so many of you..  
I'm so very grateful for my kind and loving husband who does everything he can to support all of my crazy ideas. He diligently worked in the cold yesterday to prepare the lines for the hanging of all of your pillowcases tomorrow.
Because of the wonderful people that I have been so blessed to have in my life, I have learned so many wonderful life lessons. My great-aunt taught me tenacity. My great-grandmother taught me to see the beauty in all things and all people, and that nothing should ever be wasted. I see my grandmother in so much of what I do and even how I go about accomplishing my tasks. Sometimes I will catch myself humming an old hymn and it's like she is here with me, she always hummed old hymns as she went about her daily chores. She taught me to create, she gave me my love for beautiful things and even more importantly, she taught me the joy of sharing. I have learned from so many of you that the world is full of loving and generous people.  My husband has given me the gift of unconditional love, security and support. It is because of these precious people, you, and others that I am who I am.
Earlier this week I received this note and I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the content.

Hi, Rhonda!
I've lurked your blog for quite awhile now, and must tell you that I adore you. You are one of the most positive, upbeat bloggers out there, and incredibly generous in all of what you do!!! You are certainly not a self-serving, "what's in it for ME" kind of lady, and your amazing kindness is, well, amazing! :-) 
Your Mary Bridge Pillowcase project is wonderful, in how you've pulled together so many in supporting a great cause. Seems sort of simple, to ask others to send cases, right? Yet, you have hung 986 pillowcases, each in their turn, and shown us photos. You have had your pilot friend do fly-overs to get aerial shots.
You have created so many fabulous tutorials, with your Sleeves on Saturdays. Tutorials which many others would charge for, yet you have chosen to share your drafting skills with all and sundry, free.  Your projects are fun and stylish, and your tutorials and thorough and accessible. I've done a couple of tutorials for a friend before, and it takes a LOT of time to do detailed teaching such as  you share!
Your Sunday reflections are *always* things which make me think, and often cause me to realize there are places in my life where I could make some positive changes, and perhaps extend myself to others.
Your  Sunday soups are gorgeous, and always sound so yummy! Again, sharing the recipe, letting us know where else we can find the link (Panera, for instance), and taking the photos - all take your time!!
Add to all these things the fact that you really do not *live* on your blog, but have a clearly busy, productive life, and I am just amazed at what you accomplish. Your generosity of spirit shines through all you do, and you are so clearly such a kind, giving person.  People like you are treasures. :-)

In each of the lovely accolades that were given to me, you can now see that they really do not belong to me, but to all of those who have so richly blessed my life. Monetarily, I was very poor as a child, but in what I was given, I was rich beyond compare. And the best part about these riches is that the more they are spent, the more I continue to have.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Grandma's Garden

Unless I receive a package in the mail tomorrow, this will be the final Mary Bridge Children's Hospital pillowcase post until Friday. What's special about Friday? That's the day of the final big hanging!!!! Exciting :)
Kimberly, a lovely lady who belongs to the Haute Couture Club of Chicago made 26 pillowcases over the summer and into the fall. She told me that her daughter moved away and it really helped to fill the void of her daughter being so far away. Below is one of my favorites. I had a puzzle map as a child and it was one of my favorite toys. By the time I started school, I knew all the states as well as their capitals.
All of the prints that Kimberly used have a lovely homespun vintage feel, like Grandma's garden.

I was so cold hanging these pillowcases!! We had snow yesterday. Although it was only a dusting, I had hoped that it would still be on the ground for the pictures, but it warmed up just enough to melt it.
So what's our current total? It's an amazing 986!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woo Hoo! Thanks Kimberly for helping us get so close to a 1000. I haven't given up, we'll get there :)
Be sure to check back Friday or Saturday morning, it just depends on how long it takes to get all the pillowcases hung, pictures taken and then get the cases down. So I have a feeling it will probably be Saturday before I can get everything posted. I'm just so excited!!!

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Starting The Day On A Happy Foot!

When I opened my email this morning, this message was there to greet me,
"excellent description, made my first raglan shirt after your explanations here yesterday. It's perfect! :) 
I was googling the internet for such an explanation (how to make a raglan shirt from an ordinary pattern) everywhere, in several different languages.... and finally I found yours! So easy and well explained!"

Well, that just makes my day!! The message was left on this sleeve post, http://rhondabuss.blogspot.com/2012/10/sleeves-on-saturdays.html, just in case you might like to draft a raglan sleeve. You can always find all of my sleeve drafts on my Pinterest page here, http://www.pinterest.com/sewbussted/sleeves-on-saturdays/

This picture came to me yesterday. Aren't these just the cutest pair of slippers?!!!
They were made by Willi who does not have a blog, but she is doing some incredible things. She has taught her grandchildren how to sew by making pillowcases for the Mary Bridge project. Lovely and thank you :) She said that she even downsized the slipper pattern and made slippers for her granddaughter's dolls. She said she would try and send a picture. I bet they are beyond cute!! If anyone would like to have the slipper pattern, just email me at sewbussted@yahoo.com and I will get it out to you along with a link to the instructions. The slippers make great gifts for the holidays!!! Hint, hint!!
Hope you're day is off to as nice of a start as mine :)

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Monday, November 25, 2013

My Holiday Gift To You!!!

Happy Monday Everyone! I told you that I had a wonderful surprise in store for you today!!!
Head over to http://so-sew-easy.com/clam-shell-wristlet-purse-seasonal-sewing-series/ where you will find;
1. My post
2. A free downloadable pattern for my Clam Shell Wristlet
3. A chance to win 2 free patterns from Seemingly Smitten
What a great way to kick off the start of a new week!!!
If you make up the wristlet, be sure and let me know as I always love to brag on your work :)
Happy Holidays from me to you!!!!

*A note about the pattern. Sew the handle with a 1/4" seam allowance rather than a 1/2" seam allowance. It makes for a nicer handle and is easier to turn. 

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Night Reflections

There is only one way to avoid criticism:
Do nothing,
Say nothing,
And be nothing.

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Sunday's Soup

Panera Bread's Mushroom Bisque
If you like mushroom anything, you are going to love this soup! It smells incredible as it cooks and tastes even better. I cannot wait for tonight's dinner!!
I did make a few changes to the recipe.

I used a mushroom broth rather than the chicken and beef broth. The recipe also calls for sherry or white wine, I used cognac. I love the rich flavor of cognac especially in a mushroom soup. Other than those changes, I followed the recipe below. If you would like to reference the recipe from Panera's website, you can find it here, https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/recipes/mushroom-bisque.html


Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup chopped carrots
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 1 pound mixed wild mushrooms (such as baby bella, oyster, and shiitake), sliced
  • ⅓ cup Arborio rice or other risotto rice
  • 1 large sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup dry sherry or white wine
  • 3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup half-and-half
  • ½ Panera Bread Artisan French Baguette, sliced


Step 1.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add three-quarters of the mushrooms and cook until they wilt, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice, thyme, and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the sherry or wine and cook until the liquid almost evaporates, 2 minutes. Add 3 cups of the chicken broth along with the beef broth, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Bring the broth to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer, stirring now and then, until the rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

Step 2.

Remove the thyme and bay leaf; then puree the soup in a blender or food processor (in batches if necessary) until very smooth, 1 to 2 minutes per batch. Return the soup to the pan and stir in the half-and-half over low heat. Keep it warm, adding more chicken broth if necessary to thin out the soup.

Step 3.

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet. Add the remaining mushrooms and cook until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Divide the soup among four bowls and garnish each with the sautéed mushrooms. Serve with the bread for dipping.
Once again, if you like mushrooms, don't wait, make this soup as soon as possible!!! Can you tell I REALLY like this soup?!!! Hope you're having a lovely Sunday :)

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sleeves On Saturdays

The Bat-Wing Sleeve
The Bat-Wing sleeve is a very simple sleeve to draft. Look closely at the picture below and you can see that this sleeve gives drape under the arm. At first glance, you might think that this is nothing more than a dolman sleeve.
 With the garment laying flat, you can see the sweep of the shoulder that allows for the drape. There are 2 different ways to draft this sleeve. I will show you my preferred method first.
 Begin by drawing a right angle on your paper.
 Match the front bodice to one side of the angle and the back bodice to the other side of the angle making sure that the 2 bodices meet at the waist.
 Draw a straight line from one shoulder to the other.
 Draw another line that goes through the point at the waist and extends the line through the shoulder line.
Determine your sleeve length by measuring from the top of your arm at the shoulder to your desired length. Measure the circumference of your arm at that desired length. As an example, if the circumference of your arm at your desired length is 10", divide the 10" in half. Draw a line at the desired length from the shoulder line and draw a line that is 5" on either side of that line.
 Draw a straight line from the sleeve length line back to the shoulder on both sides.
 Where the lines meet the shoulder, round out these points in order to not have such a sharp point.
 Trace off the front and back patterns. Draw another curved line at the waist.
 The pattern is now finished.
The second method for drafting this sleeve is to match the front and back bodice at the shoulders. Draw a line down from the shoulder line and place the center of the sleeve on this line. Draw an angled line from the waist to the bottom of the sleeve.
Draw angled lines from the point where the sleeve meets the shoulders of the bodice to the curved line.
Cut on the angled line to the shoulder and spread at least 5". The more you spread, the more drape there will be.
You can see from the picture below that you can control the amount of drape there will be with this method.
Personally, I like the first method the best. It gives the amount of drape that I would like for this silhouette and it is very easy to do.
This makes for such a lovely top that is very easy to wear. I used a basic knit top pattern for my drafting, so the entire piece went together in a snap. Give it a try, I think you'll enjoy the results!

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Fabulous Free Pattern Friday

I had a little surgery yesterday, so I'm not feeling my best today, but I wanted to do something creative and not feel like a blob. Just about a year and a half ago, Shams of www.communingwithfabric.blogspot.com did a guest post for us on drafting her tablecloth skirt. You can see that post here, http://rhondabuss.blogspot.com/2012/04/fabulous-free-pattern-friday_13.html
Well, bad me, I had not made the skirt....
until this morning!!!! Now I can officially say I LOVE IT!!!!! I used a vintage piece of wool flannel. I put the wool in the washing machine on a hand wash cycle and then dried it on low. It really came out beautifully. My advice on washing wools is to always test a piece prior to throwing the entire piece in the machine. More times than not, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.  
My skirt is just a tad different from Shams as I made a mistake. My motto is that most mistakes can be remedied if you just take a little time to think about it. You can see in the above picture that there is a pleat at center front. I did not want a gathered waistline, so I drafted the skirt to have a waistband with a center back seam for a zipper. I wasn't paying attention and I cut the waist on the seam line rather than the line I had added for the seam allowance. Opps! Oh well, I was able to fix it and I rather like the center front pleat.  
The back with a zipper.
As I said, I am in love with this skirt and I am so happy that I finally got around to making one. The entire piece look less than 2 hours from cut to finish. One exception though, I have not hemmed it yet. It is pressed up and pinned. I'll do this while I'm watching television.
My suggestion is to go to Sham's blog and download the instructions and make one for yourself. You can find the instructions here, http://communingwithfabric.blogspot.com/2011/11/self-drafted-tablecloth-skirt-with.html
You can see a gallery of the lovely skirts that have been made here, http://communingwithfabric.blogspot.com/p/gallery-for-garment-formerly-known-as.html
And finally, you can find the reviews of the skirt on Pattern Review here, http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/search.pl?search=search&patternid=51201&CompanyID=163&PatternNumber=108155-1008
This is a wonderful skirt idea for plaids and it would also be great for a holiday party. Lots and lots of possibilities here. So RUN go make one for yourself. Don't be like me and wait :)
Happy Friday Everyone!

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