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.

Wednesday, January 28

Snow Day Woes and Day Dreams

So what usually happens on a snow day when you plan to sew? We had 5 inches of snow yesterday, then freezing rain/sleet, then more snow all morning, for a total of about 10 inches. Icing - guess what - we lost power. Just as I was going up to sew, all power went off for several hours.

Given that limitation, I decided to prepare some patterns. Since one of my goals for 2009 is to make a garment from each BWOF magazine I've collected, I decided to start there. I traced out a Burda World of Fashion (BWOF) pattern. Well you know me - I couldn't stop at just one. I traced out three. The photo from the website and the line drawings are below.

Misses Skirt 104A from 11-08 BWOF I really like this skirt. I am not crazy about the fabric it is shown in, I have in mind a nice soft cotton or silk chiffon. But I think it will make a very femine garment.

LEFT: Women's Jacket 132 and RIGHT: Women's Tunic 133 B. Something about this jacket just appealed, perhaps the feminine quality of it. The tunic is interesting - it is much more "severe" in style, but I think it could be interesting in the right fabric (not that dead looking navy blue the sample is in!!)

This afternoon, I traced and made pattern adjustments for both the skirt and the jacket. I love the collar and sleeves on the jacket, but not the pleated bottom trim, so I left that off. I'm not certain of which fabric I will use, but if I want to go "blouse-ward" I have some synthetic in dark grey/black with Fragonard type shepherdesses frolicking, or if I want to go "jacket-ward" I have lots of wool. As to the skirt, it was about five sizes too small at its largest, but was fairly easy to enlarge, given the simple lines. Both of these are traced, adjusted and the seam allowances are added. I have the tunic traced, but have to make the adjustments and add seam allowances.

I also want to make some things from the BurdaStyle and I downloaded the Natalie top pattern when it first came out. It was free then, but I see it is now $3.00. Worth it I'm sure. Anyway, I taped it all together and made adjustments (FBA and raised the neckline about an inch and a half) and prepared the pattern for use. Last night, I washed the black cotton jersey and black lace I'm going to use for it, so I'm ready to cut (black lace collar/perhaps front center panel??).

At the end of last week, I received my Burda Plus for Spring/Summer. It has a number of nice styles in it. I am considering the following two:

This suit (Jacket 424, Skirt 405) appeals-again a feminine take on the suit. And I am thrilled to see pink in the styles for the upcoming season - great that it is continuing to be a select color. Anyway, the page before the one showing the pink outfit shows the same jacket in a cream pantsuit but without the organza strip on the bottom. I'd like to make the jacket from the cream set with the skirt. Fabric? I've got some great wool crepe in a light pink.

Finally, something about this dress is also appealing - the collar perhaps? Not just knotted, but perhaps made longer so you could tie it? I've got lots of floral cotton lawn that would be dynamite in this dress, 419 A.

So now I have ideas for at least a few months of sewing. Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, January 27

SNOW DAY!! Or maybe two!!

Finally, after days of cold cold cold freezing temps, but no snow or little more than a dusting, we have gotten hit. Five inches fell last night and this morning, with predictions for another "more significant" accumulation coming this evening, with frozen rain/sleet mixed in. Oh boy.

Needless to say SNOW DAY today, and probably tomorrow too. I am going to try to get my brother's quilt top completed if I have two days to sew.

Monday, January 26

Sewing This Week

Sewing this week has been fruitful. I tired of quilt piecing, so made something different. This lounge wear was made from McCalls 5768, a tunic and caftan pattern. I'm listing it on Pattern Review - see the link to it in the right hand column.

I quite like it. I had some knit I purchased last year, in a nice pink and white stripe. The feel is sort of "minky-ish" and it is super-comfortable and warm. With another winter storm coming our way, this is an important fashion choice for the next few weeks! Now I wish I would have bought the blue and white stripe too.

Here is the Carpenter's Wheel quilt as it stands as of Tuesday. I sewed all four together, with a border of very light wood design. I've got the next border cut ready to go. It is a plain medium chocolate brown (no wood), and another plain in a "light" navy blue. This border is going to be 1 inch blue, 2 inch brown, then 1 inch blue again. That will be followed by a row of dark half-squares, and a row of light half-squares, then blue again. I hope the blue will be a cool and still counterpoint to the warm wood colors.

Sunday, January 25

Paste Magazine has a site where you can use the colors and format of the iconic Obama print to enter your own text and photo. Visit it to celebrate this week:

Sunday, January 18

Weekend Sewing

I didn't get as much done this weekend as I'd like, but I do have tomorrow to continue sewing. This photo shows one of the Carpenter's Wheel as it stands right now. (Pinned up on two bulletin boards, with lots of "stuff" around it!)
Today, I have sewn together several squares in order to determine what design I should use to add to the four Carpenter's Wheels. I spent about half an hour moving things around, until I came up with a satisfactory design. The photos below show the approach I'm going to take.
This row of three photos shows the two rows that will be added.

And this is a larger photo of the entire block with the additions. Of course the additions are a bit out of proportion as they haven't been trimmed and sewn together, but it gives the general idea.

Now the question - Adding those two rows where? My thought is to add the rows to each block on the inside edges - so the top or bottom and one side. That will increase the center by sixteen inches across (both vertically and horizontally). Since just the four blocks are almost queen sized, this should take it to close to king size. Then I will not add any borders to the outside edge, or a very small and plain one. So I hope to have the top finished tomorrow. Wish me luck!

MATERIALISM - It is a serious disease - Part 3

The final pieces of fabric that I ordered in 2008, in an attempt to bypass my 2009 resolution, have arrived. I purchased them from e-quilter. They are as follows in the two photos below.

The top photo fabrics are all cotton. I see a heavy preference toward pink!!

And then, a confession!! I needed to get some more of one fabric for my brother's quilt - I purchased a yard of "Prism II" in dark brown. I wasn't going to count that because it was needed for a project I had started that was not done. But then . . . I put myself into the road to temptation. The photo below shows the red moleskin I bought at JoAnne's on clearance for $3.00 a yard. It is a brocade design. So I made it 17 days before caving. But I am back on the wagon!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 14

First Sewing of the New Year

I have two projects to share today. The first is an on-going project - I am making a quilt for my brother with the Carpenter's Star pattern (see previous post). It was supposed to be ready for Christmas - umh, sort of missed that deadline! However, in the New Year, it has been coming along very well. Here are photos of the four Carpernters Stars, just laid together on the top of the bed. The more golden colored square is the middle. Each of the four is 32 inches square. I am now tossing around how to put these together - whether to keep the four together, or to add a border and a small center block. I want to make a border - either in BuzzSaw or Jacob's Ladder, both appropriate to the Carpenter's Star.

Then, I made a purse using the Perfect Purse pattern I've used before. This is going in the Stash Contest at Pattern Review. I used some cordless corduroy that I purchased last year, and the same cotton I used for the bike bag as lining. Sorry for the brightness of the photo - something about the contrast caused a problem with my camera.
What I did differently this time:
- made the pieces "taller" by about 2 inches;
- did not use the center curved piece for the center, but cut a straight piece (this made it easier to get the pocket in correctly;
- put in a purse zipper;
- added rosettes to each end of the single strap.

Monday, January 12

Discovery of First Quilt Patch

Here is something fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You really never know what is buried in your sewing room that you can discover when you CLEAN IT UP and ORGANIZE it!

This is the first quilt block I made. I don't remember exactly when - probably either in high school or within a few years after. I know I used that black floral for a summer dress, so this must have been made from the scraps from that dress. It is hand sewn, hand cut with scissors (there were no rotary cutters then). I must have used templates to cut the pieces, I don't remember.

I do remember that I got the Dover copy of Ruby McKim's 101 Patchwork Patterns, re-published in the 1970's using the original 1930's book. At the time, this was one of the few resources available for quilting. The design is winged square.

Today, you can go to and download the book or any individual patterns.

MATERIALISM - It is a serious disease - Part 2

As a follow-up to my previous post, I mentioned that I'd ordered fabric in 2008 because I wasn't going to order any in 2009. Here is my haul - and after going through my stash to reorganize it, I really really really did not need anymore.

First up, an order from Fabric Mart. I love Fabric Mart - great fabric, great price, and prompt delivery.

The photo on the left shows, from the top, lilac stretch velvet, an ITTY stretch for a top, a yellow velveteen (not sure what for), dusty aqua wool, a poly-rayon basketweave for a suit, and a pink/lavender boucle for a spring suit. On the right is the free bundle (10 yards if you order a certain level of fabric), that shows, from the top, 2 yards of a plaid silk dupioni, 3 yards of a crinkled panne velvet (this will be a dynamite top or dress for my d-in-l next year), 3 yards of black linen, 3 yards of a dark blue (although it looks much lighter) rayon and something else gabradine.

Then, I ordered from They are always a reliable supplier and offer a huge variety of fabric from which to choose. The photos below show the pieces. On the left are two wools: a teal basketweave that I've been watching for a while, and a great wool that the photo does not do justice to. The wool is aqua, dark brown, beige in a square design. I just love it. It will become a coat or something similar. The cotton assortment is in the second photo: a stretch cotton for skirt/pants, then across the front, a light blue broadcloth (that does not match the polished cotton print I'd purchased the fabric to match!), two pieces of Kaffe Fassett cotton, and a Christmas Toy design on ivory. Finally, a great crinkled stripe in aqua - it was on the $1.99 list, and I wasn't sure about it, but I really like it. It will be a great summer outfit.

Then, an order from Hancocks. Hancocks is sometimes not as quick as I would like, but they do have good clearance selections. On the left is a floral from Amy Butler that was on clearance, as was the pink peony. The blue "fortuny" damask is a cotton print. All of these will be great summer skirts. Finally, I've been collecting the Simplicity line by 3 Sisters for Moda to make a quilt eventually. It was on clearance at Hancocks, so I grabbed some more!

Finally, I ordered from However, I have not received my order as yet. I actually ordered from e-quilter a few days before I ordered from any other site. A few days ago, when it had exceeded 10 days, I finally emailed. I got a response - that they had sent my order that day, but I was very disappointed. They are a bit slower in sending things out on the average order, but this is really too too slow. Still have not got the package! Maybe this week?

Thursday, January 8

Sewing Back Story??

Lindsay T ( offers up the question: What is your sewing back story? Part of that is evident by the name of my blog: Aunt Emily's Legacy.

As a baby and young child, I was blessed with hand sewn and smocked dresses made by Aunt Emily and my grandmother. I made elaborate wardrobes for my dolls. About age 12, I spent a few weeks in the summer at Aunt Em and Uncle Al's. This started me on the road to actually sewing for myself.

By high school I was sewing many of my own clothes. The pattern above, for example, I used for my homecoming dress - the pink version, but in hot red panne velvet. I made my prom dress - sea green satin with a sweetheart neckline and a hoop skirt. The dress itself was a copy of one my mother had worn in 1948 before she married. I also made my graduation dress, a white cotton with circles of white and pink flowers in a tiered style. I think this was my first use of a Vogue pattern AND I still have it. The prom dress was cut up long ago.

I continued to sew my first year at university. I did not go back to school and entered the workforce, so I sewed again. Marlo Thomas patterns (mid-70's), dresses, not really suits as they hadn't reached the fashionable stage for young women at that point. When I went back to school three years later, I sewed again, this time more casual things.

While in graduate school, I continued to sew. My niece, Jennifer was born in 1979, and I made her smocked nightgowns, and a few things as she got a bit older. Somewhere in here, I tried my first quilt - a large weathervane pattern in burgundy and pink.

Back in the workforce, I continued to sew, but we are now approaching the "Dress for Success" period - suits, blouses with tied bows, etc.

In the early 80's, I lived briefly in Mississippi, in one of the towns that hold Pilgrimage in the spring. My favorite trip was up the river to Greenwood, where the a Steinmart loaded with fabric was located. I made a few "southern belle" (or northern ding-a-ling) costumes.

When I got married, I just didn't have the gumption to sew my own dress. I did make the dresses for my two flower girls, but that was the only sewing I did - my own flowers too. Really, I kept sewing until the early years of my marriage. By 1990, my sewing was very periodic. I still sewed, but usually when a friend came down for a weekend, or I wanted something I couldn't find.

Most of the 90's was a pause in sewing. I still looked occasionally at pattern books (and began to think that I'd already sewn many of these items before - the 70's were making a comeback). I started a few quilts, fiddled here and there. Discovered CRAZY QUILTING, which I entered into enthusiastically. I met a wonderful group of women (The Cincinnati Five) who were also big Crazy Quilters. Made lots of projects in Crazy Quilting.

Then, a few years ago, I got interested again. When we moved to our new house six years ago, I made curtains for two of the bedrooms. I started a quilt using the 3 Sisters Paris Flea Market fabric ( still a UFO). I has been only the past two years that I've really started sewing clothing again.

Now, of course, I always collected fabric, even when I wasn't sewing!!!! Which is why I have such a huge stash! And now, I love cruising the vintage pattern sites to find things I've made before - 1968 through last year!

So that is my story. I only wish I had been as influential with my nieces as my aunt was with me. Jen and I had a conversation a few months ago about how she would like to sew, and I wish I could show her. Oh well, that is one regret that can be repaired.

Monday, January 5

Tip Junkie: Word of the Year 2009 & Giveaway

Tip Junkie: Word of the Year 2009 & Giveaway

The Word for 2009

Tip Junkie ( has a post today asking for the one word to provide guidance in 2009. I always hope for wisdom, which comes sometimes and sometimes not. But for 2009, I think my one word is: