Time, as always, gets away from me, but I'm still a little stunned to see that it's been the better part of five months since I last visited this space. I've been busily adding projects to my "want to sew" list, with precious little sewing time actually happening. There are reasons for this, of course. Now that I have three teenage daughters, a lot more time is being devoted to my new official job title of "chauffeur." It's been wonderful to see them getting involved in so many different activities as they grow up, and I couldn't be prouder, but I'm definitely racking up the miles on my dear old minivan. I've also gotten to start teaching sewing classes to my girls and their cousins, which has been all kinds of fun and the main focus of my creative time for the moment.
The first thing we did was assemble these swatch packs so that the girls could see the difference between different types of fabric and interfacing. I had almost no grasp on this when I first started sewing, and I think it's important for them to understand which textiles are best suited to which types of projects. I like that they can feel the fabric for themselves on these little cards and that we can add more as we go along if we need to.
Next we practiced our hand stitching with some simple pincushions. I fussy cut squares from one of my favorite linen prints, and the girls practiced sewing a button on the tag and using a ladder stitch to close up the side seam. I'm trying to show them how to make pretty things but also teach them skills that will be useful for typical quick fix emergencies that arise in everyday life. The top three mending projects I do each year are 1) sewing buttons back onto clothing, 2) hemming pants or dresses, and 3) using a ladder stitch to sew the ripped seams on stuffed animals closed. We'll hit hemming next month when we make pillow cases out of leftover yardage from my old fabric collections.
So they can have a record of what we're learning, I'm putting together mini binders for the girls filled with project instructions and basic sewing tips. We'll make binder covers for their notebooks later this year, but I made my own first. It was such a treat to play with my favorite kind of scrappy patchwork again. I've been saving that large piece of text print for a long time, and it was great to finally use it on something I'm going to be seeing a lot.
I used this small piece from a favorite Cathe Holden print for the pen pocket on the inner back flap. I absolutely adore her collage prints, and this collection of vintage fabric labels was just too perfect to pass up.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I opened my mailbox to find these beautiful gifts from Fat Quarter Shop inside. Considering how little time I've been able to devote to sewing lately, I feel completely undeserving of them, but I'm so grateful. Looking through these patterns and booklets has gotten me excited about trying to sew for fun more often. I've really missed it. Hopefully I'll have some work to show from this stack of inspiration in the months ahead.
We added two more pets to the family zoo over the last few months so that everyone would have a buddy. Gus is a sweet little orange tabby who has a constant purr and a hilariously squeaky meow. (His official name is Burton Guster, after my favorite character from the old USA tv show Psych.) He's extremely affectionate and loves to cuddle with us.
Gus and Joey are slowly getting to know each other, and I'm thankful to say that we've passed the hissing stage and are now hovering on the threshold of irritable tolerance. I'm calling that progress.
Joey was not amused to have his space invaded, but I had seen the signs of loneliness over the last year. I think that as much as he resents the presence of an intruder, he likes having another cat around. I'm definitely enjoying the extra kitty snuggles myself.
Our sweet Sam has had a rough time of it lately. We brought Rosie home for him back in June (their names are actually Samwise Gamgee and Rosie Cotton, for you Lord of the Rings' fans out there), and I've never seen two dogs bond at first sight like they did. Just about every photo I have of the two of them together is a blur since they seem to think their full time work is auditioning for careers in professional wrestling...
Rosie is an incredibly loving dog who adores her "big brother." They had a glorious summer together, tearing around our backyard like a pair of happy maniacs. Then Sam started limping occasionally about two months back. Two weeks ago, the limp went from occasional to constant, and after consulting with our vet over the x-rays she took last week, it appears that Sam not only has a torn ligament, but also a genetic condition which has resulted in the bones in both of his back legs being crooked and his knees being constantly out of joint.
It's hard to know what this is going to mean for our sweet boy, who has always been a handful (picture an energetic Jack Russell terrier in an 80 pound lab's body -- this guy literally bounces off the walls), and I've been overwhelmed by the various possible outcomes, none of which are great. We're taking him to a specialist next week to see if anything can be done to make things easier on him. Whatever happens, we're going to love him through it.
There's a little wooden sign that's hung in our house for years that reads "home is where they love you," and every year I believe it more. This is what home is meant to be. As I was talking with my family earlier this week about all the issues we've had with the pets we've taken in over the years, I laughed through my tears, remarking that we seem to be a home for misfits. But isn't that what we all are to some extent? Being part of a family isn't always easy, and loving people (and pets) isn't always terribly convenient or comfortable, but that's the calling. It's what we've chosen to do with our lives. I don't have a single doubt that we're going to be glad we did.