A Walk around the Yard

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Please indulge me as I digress from sewing.  Today is my daughter's 23rd birthday, and she is in the Peace Corps in Madagascar- so far from home!  She and I share a love of gardening, so I took a walk around the yard to show her how beautiful the flowers are this year.  Hopefully she will be able to get to a computer soon and enjoy these from 10,000 miles away.

Gardening is another passion of mine, and when we built our house in 2001, we started from scratch with a blank slate. We are on the very edge of town, so our yard backs up to a grain field.  Here is the Illinois sky.

There were years when we didn't think anything would ever grow, as the topsoil had been removed from the site by the developers, and all that was left was hard clay.  It was so hard, it actually broke the tines on a tiller when we tried to till a vegetable garden!

 But with lots of composting and mulch over the last 15 years, it is now great soil.

I grew up on a farm, and started flower gardening in 4-H when I was about 12.  My brother is a professional florist, and I had an aunt and uncle who were florists, so I think that it is a bit genetic.  Even my Dad who was a cattle and grain farmer, appreciated and enjoyed flowers.

Clematis and roses are my favorites, and apparently they love clay soil!   Lucky me!  I have a lot of David Austin English roses which smell divine.  This is Heritage.

When we first moved here, the wind was so strong that it would almost knock you over, so we planted teeny little spruce trees.  They are now about 20 feet tall and are just getting to the point where they are blocking the wind.

Here's another clematis growing into a lilac bush.  We also have a lot of lilac bushes which bloomed about a month ago, so now the clematis can take over and keep the color going in those bushes.

Here's one of my favorite clematis:  Josephine

 Here's an apple tree with achillea and perennial geraniums.

 The grassy like leaves are daylilies which will bloom next- late June, early July.

And here is our living shrub fence to separate our lawn from the neighbors.  It has berries develop after the flowers and the birds love our lawn.

I typically don't plant a lot of annuals, but I fell in love with these striped petunias and planted them out front in a planter.

Here is a bed of english roses and a knockout rose.

 A rich red rose called The Prince.

And lastly our pond with a weeping cherry and magnolia trees.

I won't lie- it's a lot of work! And it is always a work in progress.  If I neglect it for even a short while, the Illinois weeds take over, so it keeps me on my toes.  But I love being able to bring in a vase of fresh flowers every day.

Here is a long distance birthday bouquet for you, Alyssa!  Good luck with your garden in Madagascar.  We miss you and love you!!!!

Wrap Pants and Fringed Poncho Vogue 9191

Have you ever tried wrap pants?  I've tried wrap dresses and even a wrap culotte jumper from the 70's.
But never wrap pants, so I had to try Vogue 9191 , a five piece wardrobe with two ponchos, wrap pants, shorts and a crop top.

Not knowing whether this was a style that I wanted to wear, I didn't want to invest too much money in it, so I hopped down to our local WalMart (or the evil empire as it is known in our house), and found some amazing fabrics for $1.50/yard!  The white is a loosely woven cotton dobby, which I thought could fringe well for the poncho, and the blue is a polyester challis.  So, for all three pieces, my fabric cost was only $9.

The pants are so much fun.   In motion, they are really pretty.  I had a couple of concerns- how to go to the bathroom and what happens in the wind.  Neither of those things turned out to be a big deal.  Going to the bathroom was surprisingly easy- just untie the back and flip it over your shoulders.
What wasn't one of my concerns and should have been, was what happens when I cross my legs.  Oh boy!  I absolutely cannot cross my legs in this without showing my legs all the way to the thigh.

The top looks pretty plain from the front, but the back has several pleats which are really pretty.  I lowered the front neckline a couple of inches so that I could skip the keyhole opening that the pattern includes.

The poncho I made is View A, but I did a self-fringe instead of adding a purchased fringe.

To make the fringe, I stitched a line about 3-1/2" from the bottom all around the lower edge.  Then,  I cut 3" strips, 1/4" wide, put it in the washing machine, and crossed my fingers.   After it was dry, I gave it a good shake, and then took the cat brush,which is a wire brush and brushed it out.  This is my result, which I think is pretty cool.  I think it will be nice to wear when it is a little chilly or at night.  

I still want to make the shorts from this pattern as well. I had a lot of fun making it, as it is really simple to sew and quick to put together.  When my daughter came over today, she said "You are brave- I wouldn't wear that, and I don't know anyone else that would wear that, but it looks good on you!".    I do feel that lately, I've been experimenting a lot more with unusual styles, and I've been really enjoying that.   I'm embracing the freedom that comes with being able to sew your own wardrobe.  Why not have fun?

Happy Sewing!


Roses and Cherries Summer Pajamas

Options are good to have, especially in Illinois, when the weather can turn from freezing to blistering hot in a few days.  So, I made another pair of pajamas for my daughter to wear while she recuperates from surgery.  These will also coordinate with the robe that I made here. 

This time I used the short sleeved version of Kwik Sew 2811 and the shorts and top from Kwik Sew 3882.  I used Caravan Dreams Climbing Vines in Orange for the body and Field Day Cherries for the contrast.

I had just enough piping left from the robe to accent the pocket with yellow piping.  And I used pink buttons for the front.

The collar is from the cherry print:

The for the shorts and tank, I used a grey rayon knit for the tank, and the same fabrics for the shorts.

I serged the tank with peach and yellow thread, and then turned that to the right side of the neckline and armholes.

The shorts have a paperbag waist with elastic, and a drawstring.  The cuffs are made from a contrast fabric. There are pockets as well.

So, she is all set to mix and match any piece!  These are fun to make, but all of the details do take some time.  It took me all day yesterday to make all three pieces.  But, I hope it will be worth it and she will love them.  Pink and orange are her favorite colors.  These are certainly one of a kind!

Happy Sewing!