The Patterns of My Life

I decided it’s time—past time, in fact—to clean the upstairs closet. The closet in the “spare room”—you know which one I mean. It’s the closet where you’ve stored all the boxes from the other closets and bedrooms, where the bits and pieces of your life that you just haven’t been able to toss away, have ended up.

Jennifer’s prom dress is there, and a hoop that went under another gown. There’s one half of a shelf devoted to yearbooks and notebooks full of formulas and dates. If I open those yearbooks now, I won’t get any further. Denise’s wedding headpiece is boxed up on the top shelf, next to a box of 4-H mementoes.

The special stuffed animals, books, children’s school papers, doll clothes and blankets were sorted some years ago.   Only two tubs remain. I can’t look in these right now either. Another box holds “dress-up” clothes—hats, costume jewelry, impossibly high-heeled shoes, a sparkly vest. These could be tossed, and yet….maybe there’s still a grandchild or two that will want to spend a rainy afternoon acting out a handwritten play.

Three bags of fiberfill. Did I forget I had some and buy more? Crates of fabric, a long roll of upholstery material, a bag of yarn, and … patterns.

I can throw these out.

I don’t make my own clothes anymore. These are old, old, old. Not my size and…

Oh look……

Here’s the pattern I used to make my wedding dress. Back in the late 1960’s, dresses were short and shapeless—with narrow sleeves that widened into flowing cuffs. I stitched up this white velvet creation on a Singer Featherweight in my college dorm room, after we’d driven nearly to Canada to find the right fabric and lace.GCG Patterns of My Life

A few years later, as barely-scraping-by young marrieds, I used this same pattern for maternity dresses.

…And here’s the pattern for the blue corduroy housecoat I spent cutting out one Sunday in 1974. The fabric was just the right weight to go over the old nightgown I’d packed in my “take to the hospital when I have the new baby” bag. I remember I had to keep stopping to rub my back, because bending over seemed to make it ache, and that 2 year old Denise had gone with her dad for a special trip on a fire truck….and they came home with a couple of baby ducks. Oh, the memories that keep coming as I look at this simple pattern…the realization later on that those back pains were coming with regularity and the housecoat would have to be finished after the new baby’s arrival…early the next morning. Patterns of My Life

Patterns for little girls’ warm flannel nightgowns, matching sparkly holiday jumpers….Halloween costumes…

The 4-H years! Here are the patterns for all those Dress Revue creations—I wonder how many stitches were taken out and replaced before these hit the runway? It seems now that every spring in the 1980’s was a rush to hem, edge stitch, press. I don’t think many of these outfits were ever worn publicly either—seems like they were put away until the summer county fair and then—they probably were outgrown. My thoughts move along the years in my mind…from gathered skirts and drawstring aprons…to lacey satin prom dresses and 3 piece suits…remembering all the patterns as the cute little girls with clumsy fingers grew into beautiful, precise young women.Patterns of My Life

HAHA! I remember struggling over this sports jacket…wide wale corduroy…one of the front panels had to be cut twice because the grain was going the wrong way. I suspect it was never worn much because the sleeves may have gone in the wrong way, too. It looked great on the hanger, though!Patterns of My Life

Oh! Here’s the pattern Jennifer used to make the sweatshirt for our Muppy dog! Or was it Denise that made it? So many memories….Green Circle Grove

The dress I wore for my best friend Sue’s wedding…dark blue calico with a matching bonnet. You can’t tell from the pattern just how many teeny-tiny pleats are in that bonnet. She wore linen, I remember, and we carried fall flowers..Patterns of My Life

And…the patterns for Denise’s wedding attendants….calico, too; buttons instead of pleats….matching vests for the men….19 years ago now.Green Circle Grove

Re-used patterns…for more flannel nighties and sparkling costumes…as grandsons and granddaughters arrived….

Green Circle Grove

Every one of these guides has a memory or three connected with it…stories that I needed to remember and share, of the patterns that have shaped my life. Why, the original tote bag pattern is even in this box!Green Circle Grove


I truly believe I can dispose of them now.


Cleaning the rest of the closet will have to wait for a while, though.



This post is shared with Simple Life Sunday (Trayer Wilderness).

Make your Gift Wrap Part of the Gift!

Every year, I have big plans for wrapping gifts as soon as they come home—whether it’s from the store or by mail truck.  Once again, I have a closet full of bags and a floor covered with boxes.  I guess I could say I was waiting to see if the end of the world arrived—but for whatever reason, I’ve delayed as long as possible.  Our family will be arriving in just a day or two, and I need to wrap gifts.

I’m a saving, recycling, reusing and repurposing person, particularly when it comes to gift-wrap. I fold up used wrappings and keep bows and bags from year to year. At the end of season clearance sales, I buy wrap, tape and ribbon. This year, I have quite a bit of fabric left over from making stockings and ornaments; I have been thinking how best to use the odd sized pieces.  This morning as I began to sort gifts for wrapping—and clear the sewing table to make it into a wrapping table—a possible solution struck me.

I’ve seen several sites and articles in magazines showing fabric wrapped gifts—they’re very pretty, and if I received a fabric wrapped gift, I’d be thrilled!  It would be like receiving two gifts, because I’d be thinking of ways to use the fabric, too.  I’ll be wrapping packages for small children, though.  What I’ve decided to do is make the wrapper part of the gift.

I decided to start with the gift for our 2-year-old granddaughter: a box of wooden blocks.  Our little girl likes to carry things around, put things inside other things and take them back out.  I’ll make a bag for her to carry her blocks in!

If you have basic sewing skills, you can do this, too.  I know, it’s kind of late to add one more task before the holidays this year, but…if you run short of wrapping paper and long on fabric, or if you want to give something that can be used year after year or for another purpose…follow along.

Measure the package you’ll want the bag to contain.  I just folded the fabric in half—right sides together– put the box on the fabric and cut, leaving about 3 inches of fabric on each side and at the top.

I used the fold for the bottom and stitched up both sides of the fabric, making about a half-inch seam on each side.

I have a bag of extra ribbons, grosgrain tape, and seam binding, so I found a coordinating color, measured around the top of the bag and added a few inches and then cut the ribbon.

I pressed the side seams open (you wouldn’t even have to do this), folded and pressed the top edge over, making this fold just slightly wider than the ribbon width. To make it so there will be no raw edges, I turned and pressed the top fold once more, but again, this is optional.

I stitched around the bottom of the folded over edge, backstitching at each end and leaving about two inches unstitched. 

Then, I turned the bag right side out,

threaded the ribbon through the casing that I’d just made at the top of the bag (use a safety pin to help thread it through),

made a couple of stitches at the half way point so the ribbon won’t pull out, popped in the box of blocks,

pulled the ribbon up tight and tied a bow.

I made a tag out of the front of a [saved from last year] Christmas card, and voila`!  A dual-purpose gift!  It took me about 20 minutes to do this project—and that’s counting time for taking pictures!

What do you think?  Shall I bag up the rest of the gifts, too?


This post is shared with “Happy Holidays at the HomeAcre Hop“.


Summers Acres: The HomeAcre Hop

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