Luscious Fabric

Like Being in a Candy Store

This week I had a meeting in Kansas City and what a great trip it was.  Kansas City, you say? What about it was terrific?  All of the lovely fountains that adorn the city parks and public spaces?  The warm fall weather?  The delicious but artery clogging KC bar-b-q?  Or was it the fabric shopping?

For at least the past 10 years I have made an annual trip to KC and often stayed at the Crown Center where there was an independent fabric store.  It was so close to the meeting rooms that I could do a little fabric shopping over lunch and be back for the afternoon sessions.  Like many other independent fabric stores, it went to fabric store heaven a few years ago but not before I purchased a huge amount of close-out fabric.

Alas, there is still Kaplan’s, another independent fabric store in another part of town and right across the street from my hotel.    Honestly, this store is full of fabric that can only be described as “luscious”.  Imported silks, brocades, wools and other imported designer fabrics that are amazing.   Walking through the store was an absolute delight.  I do understand that if you don’t love fine fabric, you might think I’ve gone crazy in the head.

Admittedly I had no need to purchase embroidered silk, bridal fabric or other designer pieces but it sure was fun to look and to imagine what I might want to create with these beauties. I don’t mean to offend the NY Fabric District aficionados, but I’ve not been in a fabric store which exclusively inventories such a large selection of unique and high quality fabrics.  You won’t find junk here.

As I walked into the store I half-heartedly convinced myself that I didn’t need any more fabric and it was fun to just look and touch.  That was until I saw a bolt I couldn’t resist – grey and royal blue wool crewel on cotton batiste (I think).  It continued to call my name until I was convinced that I’d be sorry if I didn’t make the purchase.  (That’s opposed to other times when I’m sure I want to buy something but I ignore the temptation and never give it another thought.)  In this case I would have been disappointed if I’d come home without the fabric.

Here you can see through the lightweight cotton which acts as the base for this unusual fabric.

Now for a pattern.  Considering the complex fabric design and heavy weight, I wanted something with few seam lines or design features.  In addition, the price of this fabric challenged me to look for a lower yardage option.  A cropped jacket would have been lovely but I then found this adorable short cape – not to long, not too short but New Look 6916 is just right.  My choice is View D with a little more length.

Now I need to think about what to use for lining and if and how to trim the edges.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

BTW, a few days later, I’m still glad I bought this fabric and I can’t wait to make the capelet.

The Joy of Having a Grandmother who Sews

Laura Ingalls Bonnet Tutorial

Several weeks ago Angela and Stephen took our granddaughters on a trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.  From the photos and stories, it appears that one of the delights was living in a rustic cabin.  This experience brought to life the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  It sounds as if they played the part in every possible way.

Here’s an account of our first phone call after they arrived home:

Caitlin:  “Ramma (that’s Grandma), can you make me a Laura Ingalls bonnet?  And one for Mira too?”

Me: “I’m sure I can, I’ll just need to find a pattern.”

Caitlin: “Ramma, I want mine to be brown calico with little dots on it.”

Me:  “I’m not sure if I have any fabric like that, but when you come to visit for Uncle Shaun’s wedding, you can see if there is some other fabric you might like me to use.”

Caitlin: “Well I want it to be brown calico with little dots.”

Me:  “OK, I’ll see what I can do.”

Caitlin:  “If you don’t have fabric with dots on it, I know how to sew and I can help to sew the dots on the fabric.”


Now that’s a girl who believes anything is possible and will do what is needed to get the desired result!

When Catie and Mira came to visit, they eagerly went through my 3×5 fabric swatch cards.  Based on my guidance on what type of fabric would be appropriate for a bonnet, they touched and stretched the fabric swatches and sorted the cards into piles.  In case you’d like the same direction, I told them the fabric couldn’t be stretchy like a T-shirt or shiny like for a party dress.  It worked.

After careful consideration each of them made a selection.  Catie’s wasn’t brown (no surprise here because I never purchase brown fabric) but it had dots on it.  Whew, we didn’t need to sew on all of those little dots!

As I’m sure you would do, I searched the internet for a free pattern or tutorial and found this great Laura Ingalls Wilder Bonnet Tutorial which spared me a trip to a fabric store.

Mira's bonnet

Tutorial Additions:

If you decide to make a bonnet such as this, here are a few changes which I would  whole heartedly recommend.

  1. Add 3/4″ to the length of the crown piece (will be 17-3/4″ long) to make an elastic casing.
  2. Fold the casing and sew in place.
  3. Run an 8″ piece of elastic through the casing and secure the ends.
  4. Now sew the brim to the crown.
  5. On the side which will be attached to the crown, cut the interfacing 1/2″shorter than the brim pieces.  This allows you to fold the fabric over the interfacing when attaching the brim to the crown and reduces bulk.
  6. Top stitch the edge of the brim – it gives a nice finished look.

Caitlin's bonnet

So in the end, it’s not brown calico with hand-sewn dots, but the bonnets sure are cute.  They’re off in the mail and I can’t wait to see photos of the girls who will likely wear them when their parents lovingly read them the Laura Ingalls stories.  What a joy it is to create treasures and hopefully “grandmother memories” such as this.

9.5.2010 Another Celebration of Love

What a Joyful Time for our Family

A week ago our out-of-town family started to arrive for Deb and Shaun’s wedding weekend which was filled with parties, family time and lots of fun.  As for all big events such as this, the preparations took months and it was over in hours.

We’re left with wonderful memories and more importantly, we’re thrilled to have Deb as an official member of our family.

After a summer of temperatures above 90 degrees, it was a sunny and warm day with a bit of fall in the air.

Having been in 2 weddings within 3 months, Mira and Caitlin are now fully experienced flower-girls – if know anyone who needs flower-girls, they know the part.  Yes, the dresses are the same style as the ones they wore in Aunt Megan’s wedding several months ago – lavender this time and with a rose instead of Japanese Cherry blossoms.  Having now made this dress five times, I’m as experienced at making the dresses as Mira and Caitlin are at playing the part of flower-girl.  This also means I have some great tutorials coming in the future.

Mira, Natalie and Caitlin

This time there was a third flower-girl, adorable little Natalie.  She had so much fun with the rose petals – who ever thought that flower petals could double as a toy?  All three of the flower-girls had a ball – they danced the night away and closed the reception with all of the adults.  As you can see, at a young age, Natalie learned that you need to remove your shoes for a wedding dance!

The After Party

Mira is now so experienced that at midnight, she thought she should be able to attend the party in our hotel room.  “After all, I am a flower-girl”.  Her mother quickly nixed that idea and then came to join the party herself.

A Week Later

While Deb and Shaun were away, we continued to celebrate with family members. After a week of guests, our house is now empty.  We are left with enough dirty towels and sheets for a family of twelve.

The laundry is temporary but it will be a long time before the memories fade.  We enjoyed time with those we love and who traveled from afar to join us for Deb and Shaun’s important day.  What a joyful time.