Something from Nothing (almost)

This is a story of two stories.

The first story is this: Back in 1982, I was in Scotland. Having always heard that I had Scottish ancestors, I took the opportunity to research the family clan. I found the clan, the tartan, and the clan motto. (of course, years later I found that I started with the wrong ancestor’s name, but that didn’t stop me from claiming the clan for myself).

The clan motto was “Neither spare nor dispose.” I took that to heart. Although I’m not sure what the Scottish meant by it when they originally created the motto, I took it to mean, “We don’t give it away, and we don’t throw it away.” Thus I have justified my ability to collect more fabric, more yarn, and more patterns than I can possibly use in this life or the next!

This brings me to the subject of this entry – Something for Nothing (almost).

About a week ago I found I needed a Halloween costume. Yes, for THIS Halloween. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of CFIDS is mounting medical bills. Work missed + medical bills = not enough money for a costume. So I borrowed a phrase from my grandparents’ generation, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!”

I took a look around at what I had on hand. I found the aborted attempt at a purple chiffon wedding dress, 5 yards of sturdy black cotton in my fabric drawer, and an old pattern from the 1980s. I added $15.00 worth of netting and spiders, some silver buttons, and came up with this:

steampunk fortune teller

I really need to get a better camera so my pictures aren’t so blurry…

At any rate, I picked up the layers of the skirt on the wedding dress into swags. I cut the top of the dress off (the part that didn’t fit) and covered the raw edge with black ribbon.

The 5 yards of black twill cotton became a long, gathered skirt and a short fitted jacket. I used scraps from the wedding dress to make the lapels on the jacket.

the jacket

The netting and spiderwebs I draped into a bustle on the back of the skirt.


I’m adding a black snood, black lace mitts, a black lace shawl, and some costume jewelry.

So I will be reading the cards at a local Haunted House this weekend and next, dressed in my Steampunk Fortune Teller’s outfit.

So what do you have hanging around? Kids outgrown their jeans? Have some spare quilt batting? Turn them into potholders or trivets. T-shirts can be cut into strips and crocheted or braided into rugs. I even use my scraps of embroidery floss by putting them in the birdcage for our finches to buils their nest.

Oh, yes. I promised you two stories. Here’s the second story:

When I was 9 years old, my mother sat me down at her old Kenmore sewing machine and said, “I hate to sew. You will hate to sew. But every woman should know how.” Here I am, 46 years later, with an entire room devoted to sewing and crafting. She never dreamed it would take me so far. And when I sit down to work, I invariably think of her.

Thanks, Mom.

Now let’s go create something!


A beginning… and an ending…

Wow! September was such a crazy month! So much happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to post about it.

Greg and I were married September 7. The wedding was wonderful with balloons and family and laughter!
The happy couple!

We took off for our honeymoon the next day and had a wonderful week traveling through Portland, Seattle, and Victoria, BC. In Victoria, when they heard it was our honeymoon, they upgraded our room. We were on the very top floor of the Fairmont Empress Victoria, nestled under the eaves. We had a split level room with a couch and TV and three steps leading up to the king size bed and bathroom with whirlpool tub. It was my first time to stay in a hotel that provided bathrobes! We also had champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. It was a very special experience and one we will always remember.

Totally exhausted at the end of our week, we headed home. Just a few days after we arrived home, my mother took a turn for the worse. She lingered for a week while the family gathered around her, and then she quietly slipped away on October 3. I cannot express how much I will miss her — my mom, my best friend.

So, in September, most of the things I created were intangible — laughter, memories, hugs, and tears…

But here it is October and I’ve begun to lift my head again. The CFIDS has got me down, but not out! And I will continue to create!

So here’s a tutorial on ribbon barrettes. I don’t remember where I learned the technique, it seems I’ve been making them forever…

You start with a spring clip and 1 yard of 1/8″ to 1/4″ ribbon or braid. Use something flat or the spring clip won’t close when you’re finished. The spring clips can be purchased in the hair accessories department of the drug store or in craft stores. Sometimes, even quilting stores carry them for holding binding on a quilt. They also make great hem markers! Buy lots — you’ll use them for everything!

Open the spring clip and place the center of the ribbon between the two sections:

From here, it’s much like lacing a shoe. Take one end of the ribbon, bring it up and over and down through the center of the clip, being careful not to twist the ribbon:

Repeat on the other side:

It helps if you hold one end of the spring clip between thumb and forefinger of your non-dominant hand. That keeps the ribbon from slipping.

Keep alternating sides, weaving the ribbon back and forth until the gap in the spring clip is full. Always do the same number of wraps on each side. When you finish, the loose ends of the ribbon will be under the top of the spring clip, one on each side.

Bring the two ends together and tie a square knot on the top of the clip.

This is what the underside of the clip should look like:

At this point, you can glue on a silk flower, cut the ends of the ribbon short, or leave them long and dangling. If you want to cut them short, add a drop of fray check or glue to the knot before you trim the ribbons.

This same technique can be used with two ribbons, alternating colors. This gives a striped effect. It’s better to use 1/8″ ribbon if you’re using two colors so that you have plenty of room for the stripes to show.

Send me your pictures if you give this a try!

Now go, hug your loved ones, celebrate life’s joys, and LET’S CREATE SOMETHING!