My Fur-babies

Hi Everyone.

A detour from sewing so if you aren’t interested in dogs, please come back for the next post where we will resume sewing discussions.

I am writing a post about my fur-babies.  We don’t have children, so for the last 20 years we’ve had a dog as our ‘kid’.  All have been rescues; and with rescues, you never know exactly what you are getting but we have been blessed with wonderful dogs.  As you will see from the stories, we have also been given challenges because someone knows we will provide what is needed.  But as you read through this, know there is a joy at the end.

Our fur-baby history:

The first was a puppy (Ginger – named by the twin girls who lived next door at the time) who we were told was a Labrador Retriever mix and turned out to have quite a lot of Doberman in her.  She was very athletic (which should have been our first clue but we were first time dog owners).  I took classes to train me on how to train her.  She was a wonderful dog, but alas we lost her at 5 1/2 to a genetic liver disease.

Ginger pic 2

Shortly after losing Ginger, we adopted another female (Sheba).  She was very much a Lab; 2 years old, raised as a hunting dog and turned into a kill shelter with 1 week old puppies.  A local non-kill shelter rescued her and the puppies.  After the puppies were adopted, they put Sheba up for adoption.  We had her for about 5 years, and sadly she succumbed to kidney disease.  We learned that often hunting dogs are not given enough water in their young lives as they are being trained and end up with kidney issues.  Hindsight is always 20/20 so looking back we felt that she was probably never really healthy when we got her, but we cared for her until her body just gave up.  Giving a 75 lb dog 2 bags of fluids a day to keep her hydrated is not an easy task, but they really helped her feel better for a while.


We were beginning a  process of moving  after losing Sheba, (which required a temporary move until the new house was ready) so we waited until we were settled to get another dog.  Along came Rusty, an 80 lb chocolate lab.  He was six years old and we adopted him from a local Lab Rescue organization.  OMG – what a wonderful, loving dog who adapted to our home in an instant.  I became a convert to male dogs and he and my hubby were instantly bonded.  His history was quite sad and I am amazed at how dogs just bounce back like they had no past. He had been “stolen” from a bad situation.  We were told he had been kept tied up outside for a very long time.  Finally someone just took him from that situation and turned him over to Lab Rescue.  He had skin issues, and a few other problems (thankfully no heartworm disease) so he was fostered for several months to clear all that up.  He was ready for adoption when we were ready to adopt, so it was a match.

After we had him for about two years, he was sneezing and sneezing.  Took him to the vet and they thought he had allergies so we gave him Benadryl.  After that didn’t seem to help, we went back and the Vet did some tests.  He had a growth in his snout.  The biopsy showed 2 forms of cancer – a sarcoma and melanoma.  Melanoma was caused by being left in the sun.  If only I could have words with the people who kept him in those conditions! Surgery was done to remove as much of the cancer as possible, but without removing his entire nose.  Well, with chemo meds and my Vet’s propensity for Chinese herbs, we were able to keep any remaining cells at bay for about 8 months.  Then the bladder issues started and we had to take him off the chemo.  The tumor came roaring back and by then the melanoma had spread.  It is so hard to know when to let go and in hindsight we probably waited too long.  We lost him almost a year after the cancer surgery.  That was the most difficult loss we had of the 3 for a variety of reasons.

Rusty xmas 2013 2

At this point my hubby said “no more dogs, I don’t want to go through this pain again”.  I understood that, but also feel that getting another dog helps the healing.  Plus they are a great exercise program!  We continued to talk about our babies and different situations, their different personalities and that got us through.

After about 9 months I started broaching the subject of another dog.  He was apprehensive, but open.  I slowly started looking around, talked to a few people, filled out a new application with the Lab rescue organization.  I was looking on their website periodically and suddenly there was Healey looking back at me.  The sweetest face; he was a ‘smaller’ lab – 60 lbs.  He was also blind.  Hmmm – what would be involved in having a blind dog, I wondered.

I did some research and thought “we can handle this”.  He wasn’t born blind, but has progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).  This is genetic in Labs, but can be prevented by responsible breeding.  The dogs can be tested for the gene, and as long as both parents don’t have the gene, the puppies should be ok.  He was advertised as being “between 4 and 5 years old”.  Apparently had been dumped when he went blind and was picked up by animal control in a rural near-by county.  To his credit, the animal control officer contacted Lab Rescue and Healey was being fostered.  We discussed the situation and decided to ‘meet’ him.


Well, long story short, we brought him home and he has been with us now for 18 months.  I work from home so that meant he wouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time.  He is the sweetest boy and had adapted beautifully to our home.  In many ways he is easier than a sighted dog – we always know where he is (he is where we are); he never runs away from home; he rarely barks.  He is definitely a ‘mamma’s boy’, likely because I am with him more.  But when hubby comes home from work, I don’t exist (unless I am in the kitchen).  The vet says he is confident – I say he is a love bug.  Everyone says he is a very lucky dog to live with us;  I say we are very lucky that he lives with us.  He is healthy and happy, and we are hoping for a very long life for him.

I hope you enjoyed this detour.  I have a number of items coming up in the next post, so stay tuned!


Vogue 1504 – Done with wool for now

My latest garment is another Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina pattern.  I have been enjoying making and wearing vests lately.  The pattern envelope:


I made the longer version from a basketweave, lightweight wool suiting.  This fabric was purchased from FabricMart Fabrics in July 2017.  I lined the vest with a beige Bemberg rayon, my go-to lining fabric.  It is lightweight and breathes.

I made my usual changes to the pattern – rounded back adjustment, smaller size in shoulders and moving out 1 size in bust and hips.  This does seem to run a little big.  I made a muslin, which fit fine.  But somehow the wool may have stretched from handling and the vest is ‘roomy’.  But that is ok – I can wear a sweater under it if I want to.

I wanted a piping around the collar and front edge, so I stole one of my husband’s neck ties.  He rarely wears a tie and has a lot of them left over from when he wore a tie to work every day.  I took the tie apart, cut it into 2″ strips and made piping.  Why use a tie for piping?  Because it is already cut on the bias, is made of silk and is colorful.  Very little of the piping shows, so it is a subtle accent.  And when you have taken the tie apart, you have tie interfacing (also cut on the bias) to use for easing sleeves into jackets.  The filling for the piping is rattail cord, which is what I usually use.  Here is a left-over piece of the tie fabric.

Tie fabric for piping

A close-up of the piping on the vest:

Piping close-up

And the completed vest:

Vest Front

There are pockets in the front; the bottom front is a separate piece from the upper front, so the pockets are incorporated into the seam.

The back is quite interesting – although I am not sure how I will like wearing it.  Unfortunately I just finished the vest and it was 90 degrees today.  So not sure it will get much wear until the fall.  The temperature may cool down next week, though and I will test-drive the vest.

The back:

Vest back

Hmm – I did press this – looks like it needs a bit more pressing.

Sandra Betzina’s website is  She has over 250 videos available to watch and there is one that walks through how to make this vest.  It wasn’t hard, and the instructions are very good because they are written by Sandra.  But watching the video helps give perspective on how the pieces go together, particularly if you are a more visual person.

Moving on to spring/summer sewing…I am working on a yellow and white striped shirt.  I am doing a franken-pattern of two shirt patterns.  I have been searching the web for shirts with stripes and embroidery and have stored them on this page.

Sneak preview of what is coming up:




The Contest Entry

Sandra Betzina, designer of Today’s Fit patterns for Vogue recently held a contest.  Sandra also has a website, Power Sewing.  The contest was called “Inspire and Layer Yourself”.  Here is a description of the contest and prize.

Because there are so many creative people using Today’s Fit patterns, Power Sewing would like you to share your creativity with us. Since this season is all about warm, fun and classic layering, Power Sewing is having a contest. Make one of the 4 Today’s Fit Patterns (V1574, V1569, V1564, V1540) and send us photos of anything you would like to enter.

The coat/jacket/topper/tabard will be judged on (1) overall impression, (2) creativity, (3) use of fabric and detailing, (4) execution.

And the prizes for the winner:

1 Lucky winner will receive the grand prize of:
1 signed copy of Sandra Betzina’s All New Fabric Savvy book
• 1 Ron Collins Vogue Men’s Pattern, V9290
• 2 Power Sewing Skill Series DVDs: DVD#6-Pocket Particulars and DVD#3 Pillows With A Punch
• 1 Fast Fit book by Sandra Betzina
• 2 Mystery Sandra Betzina Out-of-Print patterns
• Nifty Notions Brass Seam Ripper
• Collins Wash Away Wonder Tape
• Trio of Schmetz needles
• Buttons from Sandra’s special stash
• Mystery bag of sewing notions
• 1 copy of book 111 Places in San Francisco That You Must Not Miss
                         Grand Prize Valued at $250

So, I entered my latest version of Vogue 1540.


Vogue 15410 on form

The main fabric is from a gray, quilted polyester knit fabric. The quilting was done with silver metallic threads. I did not quilt the fabric; this was in my resource center and has aged quite well. The reverse of this fabric is black with silver thread stripes – quite gaudy for me. The solid is a lightweight rayon/spandex gray knit that matches exactly.  I applied a whisper weight interfacing to the band to make it have the same body as the quilted fabric.  I did not make any fitting changes to this version, but I did shorten the front pattern piece and band about 3 inches.  I am happier with this length than the front length of my previous version.  The trim was purchased from JoAnn Fabrics with the help of my hubby.  It is a polyester organza fabric sewn to a piece of mesh in such a way that it looks like fur.  Here is a close-up on the jacket.

trim close_up

And the backside of the trim so you can see how it is sewn to the mesh.

back of trim

I did not have enough quilted fabric for the sleeves, so I got creative.  There is an insert in the sleeve, so I decided to cut the insert and the top portion of the sleeve (just above where the insert ends) from the quilted fabric; and cut the rest of the sleeve from the solid fabric.  I did not interface the solid fabric on the sleeve.  Hard to describe but here is how the sleeve looks.

Jarvis Details

So, how did I do in the contest?  I received a honorable mention!  This was really the first contest I entered, so it was exciting.  Sandra sent a very kind email to me complimenting my work and creativity.   She also sent a small gift; one of her patterns and a piece of trim.  I have been thinking about making that coat, so now that I have the pattern I will add it to my very long list of things I want to make.

Contest gift

Update:  A post is on Sandra Betzina’s blog showing the winner and honorable mentions.

As Sandra’s note said ..”Happy Sewing”!

See you next time.

Catching up – part two

There were a couple of other items I completed in 2017.  The first item I mentioned in the last post – a top that I wore during the holidays.  This was the 4th version I made from this pattern.  The pattern is a download from Lekala Patterns.    I made  pattern number 4284.  Here is a picture of it.

Lekala 4284

This is a knits-only pattern and is definitely a “business in the front, party in the back” top.  You can create a bow effect with the back yoke.  I have made 2 versions like that, and 2 versions with the back closed up.

You can order ‘made to measure’ patterns from Lekala.  You enter your measurements on the site and you can also add optional measurements or body type items (high bust, narrow shoulders, etc) to get a better fit.  It takes a couple of trials so they do offer a few free patterns.  You can do a test with the free one; it helps you to know how the software calculates.  I have gotten a pretty good fit from these.  The only caveat is ease.  Their patterns don’t have a lot of ease, and their knit patterns have negative ease (meaning the pattern will be smaller than your measurements).  I have increased my tummy and hip measurement to get more ease there.

The reason I like this pattern is because of the set-in sleeve.  Most patterns for knits with a front yoke have a cut-on or dolman sleeve.  I have tried that look and I don’t like it on me.  A set-in sleeve is a much better look for me.

My latest version was made with a sequin fabric for the front and back yokes, and sleeves.  I used a lighter weight ponte for the lower front and back.


Back of top, with the yoke attached to the lower back.


Lekala sparkly top

My first version was from a denim knit and a navy cotton knit fabric.  (Sorry for the wrinkles; the top was in summer storage and I brought it out for these photos).  The front:


The back


My second was a ‘winter version’.  I used a sweater knit remnant given to me by a friend for the yokes.  I used a ponte knit for the lower front, back and sleeves.  The back is not ‘open’ since this a cooler weather version.  Not sure why the color is off – the lower front, back and sleeves are a caramel color.



My third version has the open back and I used a poly spandex knit (with glued-on sequins) I picked up at a sewing retreat for the front and back yokes, and sleeves.  I used the black ponte for the lower front and back.



(I know…black is not my color).

These tops are pretty easy and once you have made one, they can be made up quickly.

Second Catch-up Item:

When I was at the Mulberry Silks retreat with Sandra Betzina, I did a muslin for Vogue 1385.


Line Drawing:

V1385 Line Drawing

I had a couple of reasons for making this. I like the neckline and I wanted to test out the raglan sleeve.  I have had good luck with Today’s Fit patterns so was hoping the raglan would work and it did.  Adjustments were minimal.  Normal round back adjustment and that was it.  This is a comfortable shirt.  I tested it with a quilting cotton so this is definitely a wearable muslin. I did wash the fabric in advance and it is very soft and comfortable.  I plan to make at least one more of these.  Then I might try to figure out how to use the raglan feature but change the neckline.  But that won’t be for a while I’m sure.

P1010998 (2)

Lastly, we went to a New Year’s Eve neighborhood party.  I love making dessert and when I saw these on line, I had to have them.


Candy cups you can fill with stuff, that are wearing tuxedos!  How cute is that?  So here is what I made.


I made red velvet mousse and cheesecake mousse.  I used a pastry bag with tip and piped in the red velvet mousse first, then topped it with the cheesecake mousse and some graham cracker crumbs.  Everyone loved them and I had fun making them.


This is the last of the 2017 items.