Sunday, June 30, 2013

Philosophy Posts

I felt weird having this, my beauty and sewing blog, end up with my philosophical ramblings, so I've sent them over to wordpress.  For now, I'll keep the day-to-day stuff here, insofar as I write about it.

Those of you having difficulty commenting here, feel free to comment over there even if it doesn't quite make sense.  :)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Peace in the midst of turbulence

Does anyone else have conversations with God where you know the stuff you're REALLY not allowed to ask for - because He won't let you finish the sentence?  This happens to me all the time.  Like this, "Dear Lord, could you please let the pur... pur... Oh.  Okay.  The purple pansies aren't going to bloom any time soon?  Gotcha".

It's not like I always like what He is doing to me at any one time.  I don't particularly enjoy the process.  I've had a long, wonderful, blessed time in the fields over the past few years - after as nasty a walk through the valley as I'd care to live through.  Now?  I'm going through another valley.  It's not like the old one was.  No where near that bad. 

But I'm being taught lessons.  Big lessons.  I'm being taught lessons about letting the steel backbone show a little bit more through the marshmallow fluff, and being a bit more blunt.  I'm being taught lessons about pride and the praise of men.  I'm learning about faith, and patience - real patience, where you wait for God's timing, no matter how long it takes.  I'm learning about letting people I love dearly go through stuff instead of flinging myself between them and their valleys. 

I'm enough of a nutjob to always enjoy the learning, always rejoice in what God is doing to me.  I am *not* enough of a nutjob to enjoy the process or the pain or the waiting. 

I'm learning to listen to God and remember what He's told me and wait on Him.  This valley? I knew this valley would come, because of just such a prayer conversation.  I *tried* to say, "Well, at least that issue is over and done with, we don't have to revisit this ever again!"  I think I got about three words out and knew very clearly that it wasn't the last time I was going to have to battle this particular lion.  It's been a long time since I had that knowing.  I could easily have waited longer - but then NOW He's telling me, 'No.  Because I have something beautiful on the other side for you". 

Experience teaches me that He is faithful to reward obedience beyond my wildest dreams. 

And really, what is this mortal life about anyway, except coming out on the other side to hear, "Well done, My good and faithful servant". 

Consent.  My God has my consent to shape me into what He wills.  And I am blessed to have a God Who will cradle me as I cry with the pain and struggle with the will to keep walking the path He has chosen. 

Peace isn't always about being overjoyed about where you are - it's about the certainty of Whom you are walking through the darkness with.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, His will and His alone be done.  Amen.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Visual Psychology

One of the longer-term uses of pinterest or any other scrapbooking technique is slowly acquire a pile of images and then go back and view them with fresh eyes, to see what you can find out.

It's been a quiet day, and I had time to go flip through a few of my boards.   I usually spend a lot of time on my style boards... but today I went over to the others.  Just flipping through those boards helps me to get to know myself so much better. 

I find a sense of self, a sense of quiet, in the things that truly draw me.  Yes, I like candycolors, very frequently in groups.  But if you look at the overall picture, you'll find out that I'm very strongly drawn to a fluid line and to organic shapes and textures.  So while I'll occasionally indulge my sense of whimsy with a bright pink skirt, I'm more likely to fall in love with a deep green tweed. 

I have a very feminine sense of style, but it is a femininity that seems lost in most of what is portrayed in fashion these days.  It isn't overtly sexual, but is highly tactile and sensual.  Sophisticated, adult, but unapolegetically female. *

* I wrote this last year and stuck it in the drafts folder.  I don't see why it can't have a go...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sashes for Priests: The Tabernacle Project

My church is working on making a copy of the Tabernacle to use for study and tours.  I volunteered for the priests' garments.

The robes are done.  The shorts are done (excepting some better ropes for the waistbands).  Next up?  Sashes! 

I thought there might be interest in A) just seeing the sashes and B) learning how to make fringe, so I give you the benefit of the 4am wakeup call that God gave me.

First:  Decide how long you want your fringe to be, and carefully iron your fabric (you'll want a fabric with fairly large fibers for this, if you want to remain sane.  It should also be plain weave - not satin or twill).  Mark the line where you want your trim to come to, and stitch a line of matching thread.  This will anchor your work.  Strive to make sure that you are *on grain* - it will matter.

Second:  Cut strips of your to-be-fringed fabric.  I find that 3-4" balances the "Ugh, not another row of unraveling!" with "my threads keep getting stuck!"

Third:  Start pulling threads!  At least with this fabric (linen, mid-weight, visible fibers but tightly woven), I found quickly that pulling individual threads was actually faster than trying to pull multiples, as counter-intuitive as that sounds.  The multiple threads get stuck.  :p  Pulling them out to the side is a bonus, and minimizes fuzzing. 
Yes.  This takes For.Ev.Er.
This is what the shredded out fringe looks like when you're done.  Don't worry, I'm in no way done with these sashes.  But you'll have to see the rest as I do them - and frankly I have two (and a half) more sashes to fringe out, so you may be waiting a bit for the decorative goodies. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Husband's Shirt: Pattern Adjustments

After looking at the price of new shirts for my husband vs. the price of shirting fabric, I decided we could really save some cash if I had a shirt pattern that fit him. 

First I thought that I could trace one of his favorite shirts and go from there.  Then I started tracing and realized that that was well beyond my skill level.  So I ran to the Big Four and got a shirt pattern much like his favorite, and made adjustments to the pattern based on the measurements of the shirt.  (This was actually pretty easy).

So far we have:

I'll make a muslin of this shirt and see what we need to change.  Right now I'm torn between making a "wearable muslin" and just using my normal stack of old sheets.  (Helpful hint:  If you sew and do a good bit of fitting/muslining, put the word out to your friends and family that you'll take old woven sheets.  I haven't bought fabric just for muslins in an age!)

As you can see, I did a lot of lengthening!  DH is tall and has a long torso.  He requires *every inch* of tall-sized clothing, and standard patterns are graded for shorter men.  The XL required 3" of increase everywhere, even on the short sleeves.  I used the XXL through the neck and sleeves, and expect to do a bit of thinning through the lower torso - he looks best in a trim fit, but has been doing a lot of shoveling in the yard lately, so he's put on a bit more muscle through the chest/shoulders.

This will be my first go at sewing for a male - well, anything other than loose-fitting pajamas for my son.  Should be interesting.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Use what you have - and use it up

It was time for the annual beginning of summer closet clean-out.  This is more for the kids than anyone else, but my husband and I contributed a few items as well.

I'm pretty pleased with the minions - they sorted out their own closets, and I just had to go through and do some final supervisory work.  Half of these bags are headed to the DAV, the other half are headed to the landfill.  Well.  I thinned out the bags headed to landfill...

And turned a large pile of shrunken, stained t-shirts into perfectly good rags.  My husband does a lot of refinishing work, and he goes through rags like nobody's business. 
I think that's lovely - using what you have on hand to do good things, instead of always buying new.  Getting all the use out of the good things God's given you - it's just good stewardship.

Speaking of taking good things that God gives you and making use out of them... We just planted a rosebush in the backyard, and it's been blooming like crazy.  The blooms have the most insane rose fragrance, so I decided to give a try to drying some of the defunct petals.  I spent a few minutes picking them off, putting them in a mesh laundry bag, and I hung them up in the patio, over my sewing area.  If it works, I'll have some pretty, scented petals to put in Christmas gifts - and if it doesn't, well... those roses were done anyway.  No harm, no foul.    And it was fun.  :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Without Malice

A request:

When another Christian disagrees with you on matters of faith or practice, start with the assumption that they aren't malicious. 

Ask first:  Is this matter a central tenant of the faith?  (The divinity of Christ, the Resurrection, how to be saved, etc).  Meaning - does the very meaning of the word "Christian" change if this disagreement goes forward?

If not...

Ask second:  Is the person twisting the Scriptures to their own benefit and acting more like a wolf than a shepherd?  (Meaning:  Are they misleading people for their own profit?  Is there anything in it for them, other than peace and quiet, if other people believe as they do?)

If not...

Ask third:  Are they being deliberately malicious?  Do they seek to cause division and strife? 

If not...

Perhaps we could proceed with the idea that other Christians are approaching their faith with the same rigor and intensity of belief that we do.  We can then indulge ourselves with civil discourse, civil argument.  We can listen to one another. 

Our Lord offered us choice, our Lord gave us the Holy Spirit to act as our conscience and our guide.  And our Lord told us,
John 13:34-5  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.   By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Love should be the mark of the Christian.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pretty Presents and Perseverance

First:  Pretty Presents

My family and I went to the county fair on Friday.  It was a gorgeous day, and *of course* we had to do some shopping.  I came home with a ton of accessories - things for my hair (I always have something in my hair for a cover), earrings, bracelets... yep, I was very naughty. 

I'm going to come right out and admit that I *love* pretty pretty presents.  And I enjoyed my day out with the familia very much. 

A picture of part of a mural as we entered the fairgrounds
Second:  Perseverance

We seem to be in a season of "just keep swimming, I've got this".  God's been asking my husband and I to really step up our faith.  Not just faith in God's goodness, and submission to His will, but faith that something is being worked on and changed, and that we will see it and benefit from the changes. 

No timelines, no word on what He's doing or how He's doing it .... just "I've got this". 

Frankly, although I can feel the faith increasing, I'm hoping that this is just an object lesson and we can be done soon.  We are both very tired, and resolution would be good.  BEST - of course - would be whatever awesome thing that God has in store for us.  I'm willing to wait for "Best".  LOL as I was typing this, I realized that God also knows our break-strength, and how far we can go before we're really, truly done.  He's "got this"... indeed.  /grin.

Third:  Interning is a lot of work

I've been doing church stuff ... or at least "something"... every weekend for the last month, and can I say, I'm burnt?  I very badly need a rest.  First thing I've learned from interning - I don't like being scheduled this much.  I'm getting cranky and rebellious.  I need more time in the sewing room and more time doing stuff in my house, and less time taking lessons. 

This too shall pass - I'm learning quite a lot, and we all know how much I love to learn!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mark II - Peasant Blouse Experimentation

I was able to get back to the sewing machine today, and I finished up the second peasant blouse.

I did a few things differently this time: 

1) I changed the sleeve.  I softly gathered the bottom of the sleeve and put it into some bias tape. 

2) Right before I sewed it, I decided that the bright white fabric didn't suit me, and that I should take a chance and tea-dye it slightly.  It hasn't resulted in the most even dye job ever, but the color is good.  (I got this fabric from the remnants table, so no harm, no foul).  Much better than bright white, at least on my skin.
True white to the left, lightly dyed to the right

3) I added waist elastic. I look better with waist definition, and I thought this would be good.  I'm also planning a dress with a similar style, and was wondering if the waist elastic would work.  It will, I think, but I'm going to have to add a fair bit of it, and the inner stay I was thinking would be necessary?  *Definitely* going to be required.

Even so, it's better tucked in, unless I'm wearing a slim skirt (I do have a couple).

The only bad thing about experimenting with this blouse is that the last step is adding the elastic on the top ... and that elastic changes the fit of the entire blouse, so there's little way to see how things fit until you're pretty well done.  I decided the sleeves were too long and the tape didn't tie tightly enough, so I did a slight fix to change that.  I won't make sleeves quite like this again - or if I do, they'll be four inches shorter.

One more ridiculously light and comfortable top for the summer - I call this a win!



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Don't be so grabby

You know when you organize your own life to get something you really want, and then it doesn't happen the way you wanted it to?

That would be today.

Life's turned up the heat lately, and I am super tired.  Stress-tired, not physically tired.  So today the plan was to chill out - potter around, do some yard work (as I said, not physically tired), goof off.


Details aren't terribly relevant - the point is not today, because mostly I'm not stressed out and tired from today.  Today was whipped cream... I could just skip the cherry, thanks.

Now, I know that my Lord knows what I need, and I know He is trustworthy to provide it - so I figure He'll get me some rest and sort out the stresses.  I don't need to grab for what I want, I can wait.

I don't want to wait - and yes, there are some issues I've been in prayer about that I'd dearly like positive resolution on, and He's told me loud and clear that He's got it... but I'm not to rush Him, nor am I allowed to even TRY to figure out the big picture or His timetable.

Apparently we're working on my Faith. 

Well, I've been well-fed lately, well-provided for.  I've nothing to complain about and if it suits my Lord that I'm moderately uncomfortable while He untangles things, so be it.  I'd still like a nap, though.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Outfit post and time to clean out the closet

Not Being Too Scary, or What I Wore to Barnes and Noble & the Grocery Store:  My Holly Hobby skirt with a t-shirt from Target and a headband from Charlotte Russe. 

Note:  I'm covered up.  I'm casual and accessible.  And I found something to go with this crazy skirt.  (Yes, it was an oops.  But "make it work" - and I did learn that this shape is insanely air-conditioned.  I will make more, just not out of yellow quilting cotton.  No matter how dear the pattern).


The TC girls were talking about closet insanities... this is a picture of everything in my closet.  Obviously I have a bunch of clothes that aren't hanging clothes, or are special occasion/seldom worn clothing, and I don't keep those in the main closet (which I share with my husband, and yes, this is all the space I've got).  They've inspired me to go through my special occasion stuff - and his.  He's got a few suits in there (we don't wear suits much around these parts) and none of them fit.  :p
I strongly prefer to have a small amount of fabulous basic clothes that mix and match... I'm working on it.  Losing weight is helping!!  I can weed out my mistakes without tears.  :)
Just a quick post.  Off to B&N I go!!


Ambassadors ...

This is an idea I will be developing more fully as I go along. 

I talk to people, all kinds of people.  Those people tell me that fewer and fewer of my fellow Americans really know what it is to be a serious Christian.  Conservative Christians are getting folded in with all kinds of unsavory company in peoples' heads. 

I think we Christians are going to have to give up the idea that we can make this world into what it ought to be.  At least for the time being. 

What we do need to do is get out there and be Christians.  We need to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit, as loudly as possible - and we need to do it identifiably as Christians.  We need to quit hiding our lights under bushels.

This sounds like it contradicts my immediate prior essay on modesty, but not really.  I don't think we should dress so radically different from the folks we're around as to frighten them, make them uneasy.  We've lost the advantage of people being curious about our religion.  Now we need to reassure them.  We need to be like them... only the "them" that they wish they could be.  We need to shine.

This is a hard road to travel - but I think if all of us work together to be Christlike maybe we can start erasing the misconceptions about Christians... and maybe our ranks will start growing once again.

I have a burden for the souls of the lost. 

What do you think?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Real Modesty

Being firmly on the 'good Christian' team, I think about modesty a fair bit.  Being raised Californian, if I don't think about it when I'm getting dressed, we're all in for a trial - because it doesn't come naturally.

What does modesty really mean?


1. the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.
2. regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
3. simplicity; moderation. *
On the Good Christian Team, I think we go a bit far in search of modesty (#2), sometimes to the point that we look like we're wearing costume.  When we go that far, it's easy to stray from modesty (#1). 
This is not to say that I think that we should be cheerfully wearing what everyone else is wearing, particularly when what everyone else is wearing is either ugly or overtly sexual, if not both.  However, when we're choosing our clothing, we need to be aware of the prevailing social climate.  You don't wear white to a wedding, you don't wear orange to a funeral... and maybe you shouldn't wear a cape dress to the beach.
The idea behind modesty is not to make a spectacle of yourself.  This is hard for me!  I'm pretty eccentric, and I like vintage clothing and vintage styles.  I just realized recently that vintage silhouettes are so dissimilar to modern silhouettes as to be somewhat... immodest.  Yep.  That high-necked, low-hemmed daydress?  Well... no one else is wearing a bodice that fitted, and yes... everyone is staring. 
Check out this photo collection of vintage swimwear.  On the rack, in pictures it seems absurdly modest.  Ridiculous.  And then you see the people in them and ... oh my!  You'd never see anyone this immodest at the beach nowadays... why, these people are totally comfortable with their bodies!  And they're not wearing five layers of spandex to make it less obvious that they have bodies indeed.
Personally, my rule of thumb is a 10-20% deviation from the "norm" (whatever that is) won't be noticed, and will thus be perceived as modest (#2).
We can never forget that we're ambassadors to a foreign land, and we need to not freak the natives out too much!
*This definition from

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A lot on my mind

There's a lot on my mind, and if I start blogging it out (which I intend to do) there will be a lot on the blog, too.

Today I want to take it easy and show you my mending!

DH wears button-tab collars, and he also wears a lanyard full of badges.  He's forever ripping out the buttons on his collars. I was interfacing/patching the inside of the shirt the other day and he said, "why not use a button" and I realized that's just what they do on really heavy coats, when they need a button - they put a button on the inside to support the weight. 


(The pictures came out a bit over exposed, but hopefully you get the idea.)  This is the front of the shirt, and the button for the tab collar.  Can you see the damaged fabric, where the button's been ripped off a few times?  (Fortunately most of this is hidden beneath the collar).

Here's the button I found for the inside of the shirt.  I interfaced the area, too.
So far, this button hasn't ripped out again, and it feels very strong.  The downside?  Well, I'd hate to try to unbutton this very often, I sewed it down pretty tightly.  This method is usually used for shank buttons, I think - it's easy to see why.  There's little give.  But tab collars only get unbuttoned if you're doing ironing (and sometimes not then) so I think it's okay.
If THIS rips out?  Well, new shirt time. 
Is anyone else out there tending to their mending?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Outfit Post: For the TC girls

Talking about pedicures over at TC today... so I updated mine slightly.  There's only so much I can do, really.  Other than fix the excess nailpolish later, lol. 

BTW, it is very hard to get cute pix of your feet.

Here's the outfit - I bought three of these little sweaters today.  They're perfect for day-dress addicts like yours truly.  I feel very beachy today, a good thing for June.

The seaturtle dress is even baggier than when I made it, but it suits the day and my needs. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"Jesus Style": Lovely on the inside

I just finished reading yet another book for my internship at church.    This week's book was "Jesus Style", by Gayle Erwin.  I'm kind of combining some of the things I've gotten out of this with the last book I read for intern, "Revolutionary Parenting" by George Barna. 

Stuff that's hitting me:

Being real.  Being real about where you've been, where you are, who you are.  Transparency.
Being humble, not in faking your inability but in being realistic about who you are and what you can do. 
A lack of coercion, instead relying heavily on love, faith, and patience to dissolve the barriers in others' hearts. 
Radical honesty.
Lack of grabbiness.
Intentionality.  Being in a mindful place when interacting with others. 
Goal-oriented, but in the mud.  Coaching rather than instructing. 

I am in the field most of the time, serving and witnessing.  Not the way you think of it, really - I witness with my actions.  The two directions of imbalance are permissiveness and totalitarianism.  What did Jesus say to those he healed?  "You are forgiven.  Go and sin no more."  You meet people where they are, where you are, and you react with love.  At the same time, you don't stray from the truth.  There is right and wrong, and there are consequences for all choices... yet, choice remains.   That's the point of free will.  Choice.  Mostly humans make a mess of free will.  Consequences - that's why Jesus had to come, to offer us the possibility of freedom.  It's an offer, though - you can refuse.  Lots of people do.

I want to force people to choose Christ, to choose right.  I want to force my kids to study.  I have more control over my children, because I can choose the consequences and the timing thereof, but I have only so much power even over the kiddos.  I want these things because I love.  And yet the incarnation of love (and justice) allowed those who interacted with Him to make their own choices.  Even those healed by Jesus sometimes chose to walk away and never think about Him again.  Love allows choice. 

I feel so inadequate... nothing about me seems to lead others to Christ.  "Jesus Style" reminds me that people refused Christ in the face of His face, in the face of His miracles, in the face of perfection.  My Bible tells me that after 1000 years of being ruled perfectly by Christ Himself, some people will still choose not to align themselves with Him.

It's time to embrace humility, embrace transparency, and stop burdening myself with outcomes.  I'm responsible for daily choices.  I'm responsible for helping my kids develop good habits, teaching them their lessons (I homeschool), guiding their choices, setting consequences... but some day they'll grow up.  I know too many adults who were functionally making their own (poor) choices at the age my son has already achieved.  I don't have the luxury of lying to myself about their ability to choose evil, even though I'd do anything in my power to prevent it.

I'm responsible to show Christ, to stand for what's right and true, and to be loving.  To point the way, to sound the call... I'm not responsible for what people do with that.  And I'm responsible for my prayer life.  Faithfulness in prayer - my God can do *anything*. 

It kills me, because I'm very results-oriented... but it's the truth.  And the Truth will set you free.

Step one with humility and transparency:  Admit your deepest desires.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Looks like there will be some changes

Business:   My day-to-day blog site looks like it's probably closing down, so I will be putting some daily life posts here.  Not too many of them, honestly I'm less interested in publishing daily blah to the world at large than I have been in years past.  I'll be expanding the subject matter, but ultimately my life and my heart are about being lovely, so that will be central.  Might make me settle down and think about quality rather than quantity, which is good.
Inspiration:  I have been interning at my church and we're required to read through quite a list of books (mostly about Christian living).  I finished Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna and am working on Jesus Style, by Gayle Erwin.  Both talk about how to be a good inspiration - to your children and/or to those around you.  I'm a pretty good mom, but I need to step up my game.  There are things my kids need to learn that they're not going to pick up from the aether.  Being a good example, not just using words - and being an active participant in lives, a real coach.  Express love in humility and be really real. 

One of my spiritual gifts is exhortation, so telling people what to do and bouncing at them is a strength.  Providing structure is a strength.  Perservering day after day and providing discipline?  Not a strength.  I hate fighting with anyone.  I will have the opportunity to grow in this area in the near future, while putting more effort into incremental teaching (also not a strength).  Spending a lot of time thinking about specifics for the summer and the next year, as my daughter (9) is finishing up her last year in public school and my son (12) is getting ready for his second year at home/charter school.  I've been making a lot of lists of things to teach them!!  (I'm good at lists). 

Like every parent the world over, I want to give all good things to my kids.  Like every geek the world over, I love knowledge, and I want to give them as much of that as I can.  Creating a hunger for knowledge... that's the thing.  One might pray for me, I certainly am not sufficient for this task.
Sewing:  I have a second gauze top cut and started.  I took a hiatus from sewing over Memorial day weekend and haven't gotten back into it.  I over did things the week before, and then I got sick.  I've been debating whether or not to put a gathered waist into this shirt.  At the moment I'm leaning towards "not" but that will no doubt change a few times after I get back to the sewing table.