Giving a Little Gift of Love {guest post}

I want to thank Teresa for the opportunity to sew for the orphans of Tam Ky, Vietnam. I’m Mary Striegel and when I’m not working as a chemist for the National Park Service, I’m teaching 4th, 5th and 6th grade girls to sew.  The girls are part of the Girls in Action mission group of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Alexandria, Louisiana.  The Girls in Action, or GA’s as they are called, are learning to open their hearts and make a difference in the lives of others through God’s love.

GA’s stitching up diapers with the help of Jessica Guidry.

I’ve been teaching girls to sew for almost 10 years. When I read about Teresa’s Sewing for Orphans project, I thought that this might be the perfect project for our girls.  The five young ladies are bright and enthusiastic about learning and this was a way for me to teach them about Vietnam and the needs of the children there.  They jumped at the chance to make diapers for the babies.

Emily Mackey concentrates on the sew width.
This is Mary Katherine Hickman first time sewing and she loves it!

The GA’s weren’t alone in their desire to help.  This summer I had the chance to teach some women of church to sew.  When they learned about the project they wanted to do their share.  The Sewing for Orphan’s project was infectious…I placed a call for seamstresses and soon had a group of nine members ranging in age from 7 to 70 ready to sew.

Linda McKee was handy with boys shorts (and the seam ripper!).

We met on Saturday morning and shared laughter and joy while making pillowcase and popover dresses.  Some of the sewists had never used a serger, but they whipped out more diapers. Others fashioned boys shorts out of men’s tee shirts.  By the end of our sewing session, we had completed 16 dresses, 9 pairs of shorts and 22 diapers!!!

Jason Gray finishes a pillowcase dress.

More importantly we gave a bit of love from our hearts to the children of the Tam Ky Orphanages.  Thank you, Teresa for the chance to show we care.

And really, I cannot thank you and your crew enough, Mary. It has been so amazing to me to have so many people join me in my efforts to do something special for the orphans in Tam Ky. Thank you, again!

I love a good swap

I joined up with Victoria Wolfe‘s 15 Minutes Play swap this month, my first in so many years that I can’t really remember the last time I swapped fabrics with a stranger.

We set up swap partners in the first week of December and I’ve been gathering bits and pieces here and there. My swapper said she likes smaller pieces and batiks, so she’ll be getting some that I’ve acquired, but never seem to find a proper use for. Plus some fun new fabrics I got just for her. So while, I’ve been gathering, she was super quick and -surprise!- I found a box of fat quarters sitting on my doorstep a few days ago.

I love these bright colors and can imagine making all manner of things for my little nieces. I especially love the blue-green floral. Not sure what I want to do with it, but it will be something just for me.

Thank you, Ellen!

And just for fun, here’s a shot of the box o’ fabric as it landed on the table in my sewing studio. What a mess!

I’ll be so glad to have some extra time in January to get the place back in order and seriously hoping that the injuries from my November accident have healed to the point that I can be active for more than a half hour at a time. Until then, it’s a bit of chaos down there.

Working, Sewing, Quilting

It all keeps happening, despite the headaches and the sick daughter.

I’ve been working on the little boy’s quilt, heading out to a nephew nowhere near me quite soon. I was originally going to make it for another nephew, but my daughter pointed at that he really loves super heroes and crime fighters, not cute monkeys and chevrons. So, instead, it will go to a nephew I haven’t had the joy of seeing in a couple of years (and therefore have no idea if he’ll like monkey or chevrons). I know his mom, though, and she’ll think it’s adorable.

Maya's jacket, in the beginning
Then there’s the coat project–another gift, this time for my bff’s daughter. She turns 10 on Friday and I wanted to make her something, mostly because I love handmade gifts. I found this awesomely adorable owl corduroy and eventually stumbled onto this Alexander Henry “Pumpkins in a Line” print for the lining. So far, so good. The corduroy was a bit on the light side, so I underlined the whole thing with some extra denim I had. Now it’ll be toasty warm and have a bit more body. The pattern I’m using, Kwik Sew 3818, isn’t lined, but I just can’t bear to make a jacket with exposed seams. Maybe if I had a serger? It’s coming alone nicely though and with a couple more hours to put into it tonight I think it just might be ready for gift giving on Thursday.

Kate's "Terrain" line quilt top
The third project for the week is the quilting of Kate Spain‘s quilt top. She sent it to me a week ago or so along with some fabrics for the backing. I pieced that together over the weekend and made a nice little quilt sandwich, but have been stuck on the quilting design. With only my Pfaff to do it, there’s no fancy-schmancy stuff going on. But that’s okay, it’s a utilitarian quilt, destined for someone who really needs it, not an art gallery. Today I’m pondering circles. I don’t know, though, I’m so in love with following the design of the quilt top when I actually quilt it. I’m trying to mix things up though, y’know, try something new. We’ll see. Oh! but sweetest of all is that Kate thanked me on her blog. So nice of her and fun to see my name up there! She’s also got a giveaway going on, so check out her post for the Moda Blog Hop and enter to win.

It’s a Giveaway!


I’ve participated in plenty of blogger giveaways, but always as the one hoping to win (which, in fact, I have been lucky enough to do twice!). Now it’s my turn to give back as part of the Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway Day. There are a five hundred-odd blogs participating, and just for the price of leaving a comment, you’ll be entered to win. I’m offering up a brand-spanking new wallet that I made just for this giveaway. It’s made from both re-used and new fabric. The outside is remnants of a linen blouse with pintucks that I used as inspiration for the padded quilting that runs in the opposite direction. Inside are two pieces from the new Spring Street line by Carolyn Gavin and a colorific polka dot that I used for the trim, too.
You can win this totally one-of-a-kind wallet by leaving a comment. Tell me what you like about it, or what you’d like in another version. Or tell me what you think about the new Strawberry Patch quilt I’m working on:

The Strawberry Patch quilt is coming together slowly thanks to all that patchwork.

You have until Friday to leave a comment. Like Crinkle Dreams on Facebook for an additional entry. I’ll be choosing a winner on Saturday, shipping on Monday. I’ll ship it anywhere in the world, too. The U.K., Malaysia, Easter Island… it doesn’t matter where you live. (I’m probably jealous, anyway, if it’s outside the U.S. and warm.)

Not loving this one? Check out the others in the Etsy shop.

Strings and Things

I have a love/hate relationship with thread. I need the variety, really, because there is nothing more frustrating that having to drive to the store in the middle of a project just because I didn’t have enough thread. I want to have it when I need it, but that means I need a bunch on hand. And I need a way to keep them easily accessible and inventoried.

It’s always been a struggle. I used to just keep them in plastic boxes, but then that just gets out of control and it’s hard to tell what I have. Later I kept them in drawers. That system worked okay, divvied up by color and tucked away out of sight. But sometimes I wouldn’t notice that I’d used the last of the ecru or that I was dangerously low on the always-necessary black. Then one day I stumbled onto a new organization idea.

I’d had this little shelf sitting around for the longest time before realizing that it was totally usable! The thing had hung on my grandparents’ living room wall for years, but when my grandpa died, furnishings were weeded out and I snagged this shelf without a purpose in mind. I just liked the look of it, even when it was still wood-toned. But I had no idea what to do with it, so it sat there for (I’m ashamed to say) years. Until I realized it was good for piling thread into.

Leftover white enamel was used to paint it and I filled the diamonds with color. I love the way it brings something bright to the wall and makes it easy for me to keep track of which colors I have plenty of and which ones I need.

How do you organize your thread?

P.S. Someday I want my fabric organized like this.

Can anything be too cute? How about this?

I came across something that actually made me yearn just a little for my daughter to be 7 or 8 again. Luckily, I came to my senses and remembered that I have several nieces that age! Phew. But really how can you resist the absolutely adorableness of this bustle backpack?

The Bustle Backpack

I have a fondness for bustles, evidenced by my now-vintage wedding dress. They’re especially delightful on a little girl. Me Sew Crazy has more pics and even offers a tutorial to make it yourself. I think I will be making one for some niece or another since it’s just too cute to not make.

Where have I been?

A half-dozen years ago I was allll about the sewing; I was making all sorts of vintage reproductions–aprons, bathing suits, high-waisted Hollywood pants and bias-cut dresses. I knew a few local women, peripherally, who were doing the same thing, but mostly I just isolated myself in my sewing room. Funny thing is, all these years later, these women are still around, still making and creating, and doing a real kick ass job at it. Honestly, I’m pretty blown away by a scene that I’d almost forgotten existed.

Susan Beal just put out another book, all about quilting. She’s got some great tutorials in there and ideas on how to use quilting for easier tasks than making an entire quilt. She also blogs over at West Coast Crafty, definitely one to put into your favorite RSS reader. Torie Nguyen is running Crafty Wonderland, a massive craft extravaganza that I’ve visited, ogled and never realized that she was in charge of.

From following their links and their blogs to other and around and around the Internet I go… suddenly I realize I am not ‘that girl who sews’ anymore. There are tons of us. Yeah, I know, this is a slow awakening, but for the past few years, I’ve been more entrenched in traveling with my kids here and in Southeast Asia than I have been trying to figure out how the craft scene is developing. I totally missed out on that one.

New mini-wallets, ready for their buttons

But I am back! The fabric stash has been retrieved from the storage unit and I’m stoked about digging through it even more to find out what’s been tucked away for all this time.

 

Today I’ll be stitching buttons on more super-fun colored wallets (orange! pink!) and getting those up online. And probably adding to my bandage collection on my fingers. All the handstitching yesterday left me with three wound covers. Eep.

Now @ Etsy

I keep saying I’m going to do it, that I need to do and I finally have. The first batch of goods available via Etsy went up today. By Friday I should have at least one quilt up there as well as some more wallets. It’s a start.

Some 18-year-olds get cars

There are a lot of things a kid can miss out when they’ve only got one parent, but what my kids have missed the most wasn’t someone to play baseball with or someone to teach them how to shave or draw or make music. What my kids really missed out on was that second income.

Instead of being able to buy a car or even a bicycle for my son’s 18th birthday, I finished the quilt I’d started for him back in his younger years.

Stuart taught his sister how to swim.

It started the summer I had pneumonia; the summer I spent poolside, watching the kids play while I laid there wishing I had health insurance. It was a pretty miserable summer, with being so sick and the ensuing lack of income. They turned off our electricity for two weeks while I struggled to sell enough books and clothes to pay the bill. But I had a fabric stash and with his help, my son Stuart and I chose fabric to make him a quilt.

Continue reading “Some 18-year-olds get cars”