Aunt Emily

Emily Bowyer Hammel was my father's older sister. She was the dearest person I've ever known. Over several adolescent summers, she patiently taught me how to sew and how to cook. I loved her. Sadly, she has been gone these few years and I miss her very much. However, I am carrying on her legacy of sewing and trying to carry on her legacy of caring.

Saturday, November 29

Despite my resolutions

I did go to a couple of stores yesterday. I have a lot of flannel projects this year, so Joanne's $1.49 a yard flannel (see at was a big attraction.
However, I stood in line for an hour and fifteen minutes before I made it to the cutting counter. By the time I had everything cut, stood in line again to check out, and walked out of the store, I'd been there for two hours. But I have all the flannel I'll need for my Christmas sewing projects.
However, that was the end of my sewing related activity for the day - I was exhausted.

Finally, some sewing


Today I sewed. I've wanted a Christmas bag for the past couple of years, but ended up making things for others first. Today, I decided to make something for me first.
The pattern is from The Perfect Bag: 101 Stylish Looks From Simple Patterns by Linda McGehee (see it on Amazon at I made the large size. I did have a bit of trouble - I didn't cut the outside pocket quite wide enough, so had to move it down on the center part until it was close to matching.
The fabric I used was purchased at Valley Quilts in Trenton, Ohio (see at I don't know the name of the pattern or the manufacturer. I bought four fat quarters at their $1.50 sale last week, and none have the salvedge with the info from the manufacturer. But is is a nice holly pattern. In retrospect, I should have gotten two of the green and one of the cream, instead of the opposite - then the body of the bag would be green rather than cream.

I lined it with the scraps of the fabic I used for Courtney's red satin dress.
It was so nice to finally have the chance to sit down and make something with no interuptions! And I've already got all my "contents" in the bag, ready to go for December 1st.

Thursday, November 27

Its Been Quite Some Day . . . or Three!

Yep, its true. This is what I look like right now! After a day of cooking, a day before of cooking and odds and ends of shopping for food the day before - I am mesmerized! I can hardly wait for the next three days - I am going to sew. Sew for myself. I will start on a Christmas present or two if I feel like it. The only time I want to go out is tomorrow for the $1.49 a yard flannel sale at Joannes. Other than that, I am going to hibernate.

So watch this space for my sewing adventures - and some posts of things I've been working on.

Saturday, November 15

New Sewing Machine

HEY! I have a new toy! It is a Viking Quilt Designer. My new pal, Ann, found it for me on Craig's List. I picked it up yesterday, but haven't had a chance to get it out as yet - and it will probably be tomorrow before that happens!
Things have been very very busy here at the ranch. After a few months of not much in my consulting business, I suddenly am awash in work. And given the nature of grants, everything is deadline driven. And often, the deadlines are only a week or so away. I've been on the computer, writing and researching, so much that the palm of my right hand that rests on the edge of the lap top is actually sore!
I have a dramatic deadline for the upcoming week, so that I means I won't have much time for posting. But I am reserving Sunday as much as possible to play with my new toy.
I am still sewing - working on cutting up and reassembling my green and pink strata mentioned a few posts ago. Slow going, as I run into the sewing room for a spare 15 minutes or half hour.
I'll talk with you later!!

Thursday, November 6

Lunch and COOL Flower Ball from Paper

I just had a great lunch with my new friend, Ann!!! No photo - we met on Craig's List when I was giving away some fabric, and we hit-it-off. This is the first time we've met, and I think she's great.

I don't really need another hobby, but I've been looking at Folding and other origami oriented sites for a couple of months. I have finally found the project that is going to make me "fall" - here is a quick link to Folding's cool flower paper ball. It is made out of identical origami shapes glued together. The instructions are in two parts: part 1, link and part 2, link. I love the colors in the photo, but I can see them in a pastel pink and purple for spring, a full-fledged fushia and bright yellow for summer, and I guess, sunflower yellow and pumpkin orange for Halloween!

Monday, November 3

Magazine Monday: Reviews of the Newest Magazines

Disclaimer: This review is entirely my opinion and impressions of the magazines I feature. I do not receive anything to conduct this review - I purchase the magazine, read it and assess it on my own. The copywrite for text and photos is maintained by the publisher. Any photos I use are those I have taken myself.

One thing you probably don’t know about me is that I am a magazine addict. I always have been one - from Tiger Beat and Seventeen many years ago, through Cosmo and Glamour in the 70's and 80's, and Vanity Fair and Vogue in the 90's, to today, when the majority of the magazines I purchase are genealogy, history, and art or craft related.
I try to be selective in my purchase, but you know how that goes. I have friends who only purchase a magazine if there are three or more articles they will use. But I like to look at the pretty pictures and see what others think about this or that.
So, beginning today, every Monday I will review at least one magazine. Most will have a craft or sewing connection, although if I find something outside of the category that I think you will be interested in, I will post a review.

First up is’s Gifts to Make (, published by Taunton, as a special edition featuring holiday gifts. The projects seem to be simpler than I expected, but I have to remind myself that the magazine is aimed at a younger audience than me, who have not experimented with crafts for decades. Projects include making pillows with photo centers, a socktopus, embroidering tea towels, and a friendship shawl, among many others. The major projects are in the second photo, above. A great idea I garnered was from the article on Artful Wrapping, which used enamel based Testor Paint to marble paper. I hadn’t thought of using that, but it makes great sense - the enamel is oil based, so it is easy to use water to create the pattern.

Verdict: If you are a beginning crafter, looking for an easy to do project, this magazine is for you. Instructions and patterns seem easy. The only quibble I have is very minor - an examplecuts into a pattern at a point it shouldn't, when just a bit of planning would have resulted in the pattern being complete, something that is important when the pattern is giant dots. Or maybe it is just me!??

I was much more satisfied with Quilting Arts GIFTS (, available at It has a greater variety of projects, and they are a bit more challenging. My favorites were the articles on The Classic Evening Bag (with pattern), Bedecked Wreaths (a great green bead wreath!), a Dresden Plate inspired pin cushion, and a great idea using Shiva Paintsticks (trademark) to make a travel scarf that documents places you visit. Other articles include a winter table runner, a quilted dog coat, a small messenger bag, creations using shibori-dyed ribbons, and a decorative fabric portfolio. There are many others in the magazine. See the Contents pages above.
Verdict: Great all around magazine for the sewer and crafter. Nicely done projects and photographs. Instructions and patterns seem easy.

Also from Interweave (EDIT: NOT Taunton) is Cloth Paper Scissors Studios, Fall 2008, available at ( This magazine is fun, as it gives you peeks into unique studios of other crafters and sewists. The studios depicted are from around the world - Vermillion, Ohio to Germany and beyond. My favorite was Cynthia Mooney’s little house in the backyard - oh how lovely to have that setting and dive into your craft (page 47). There is an article wherein one crafter documents her revamp of her studio, a section with one-page photos of a variety of studios, then a section of featured studios. Lots of good ideas from your peers here.

Verdict: Love the magazine. It is well photographed and beautifully put together. It builds on Mary Englebrite’s Studio profiles. However, I’m not sure how "long-term" this publication might be. How many of these magazines do you want to purchase?

Mary Jane’s Farm (, available at The October/November issue is wonderfully put together, as usual. Mary Jane Butters of Moscow, Idaho has marketed a lifestyle through her books and magazines - simple, organic, farm-based. The life we all wish we could have. The magazine is put together with charming photographs and interesting articles. The recipes are organic and look delicious. Mary Jane sells mixes based on milled grains, but they are not the focus of most of her recipes. This issue has lots of girly stuff - shoes, bags, etc. I always love looking at the magazine - a evocative of a time and place of less stress and simple life styles. There is almost always a stitchery related article.

Verdict: This magazine is for anyone who is interested in organics, who loves stitchery, or food! I always enjoy reading it, even if the lifestyle is fairly remote from my own.

So . . . that is the review for this week. What do you think? Is it helpful to you? COMMENT please!

Sunday, November 2

Some Sewing

For some reason the photo I took of the step after this one didn't download. So I am sharing these photos of the strata I made, which was then cut into 4x8 rectangles and then sewn together as crazy patches. As much as possible, I tried to leave the big roses intact.
My plan for this fabric is to use it in the sewing room - to make accessories such as machine covers, thread catchers, hams, and perhaps trim on curtains. Maybe a cover for the cutting table? I've got losts. However, I am still thinking about cutting and pasting again - perhaps using a triangle instead of the rectangle or square. I used that big dot green to fill in, and it is more prominent than I'd like. I want to get some more pink into the mix.
Anyway, I sewing part of Thursday night, then yesterday afternoon.
Oh, and I have Cortney's dress done and need to hem it. She tried it on yesterday and it look nice on her - so strange to see the tom boy wanting to wear a dress!