UC Master Gardener Conference Marketplace

Dig Plants

The Master Gardener statewide conference has a Marketplace where counties can sell to fundraise for their group and its projects. My group was pretty busy when the sign-ups came out, so I volunteered to “just do it” and make all items plus run a table (yes, I am a bit nuts). It’s been a few months of nose to the sewing machine when I’m not working.

Embroidered Avant Gardener apron

I’m posting this a tad backwards – this week I’ll have more detailed posts on making the items – but my Sundays in My City friends will appreciate simply seeing the end results and being spared all the bloody details.

Turquoise Crazy mug rug

I’d been stitching up mug mats / mouse pads with a garden theme …

Black and white canvas Cafe Apron

Cafe aprons that are great for farmer’s markets and plant sales with their nice deep pockets …

Black and white cafe apron

Binding their pockets ..

mg beginning to look organized

Crafting earrings and ornaments from machine stitched lace and tatting plus beads, then carefully packaging..

MG FSL Lace Ornaments

and stitching more ornaments (the off-kilter loops were fixed) ..

MG fall fruits apron lined pocket

Lining apron pockets and matching designs ..

Embroidered Tree Hugger Bag

Of course, stitching only my favorite designs (so having a green tote/grocery bag for me with this one!) ..

MG Buttons on floral cotton apron

Adding buttons to hide where the ties connect to the apron …

Machine embroidered cupcake mug rugs

Creating more mug rugs for a cupcake theme silent auction basket ..

mg cupcake apron

And finishing pot holder and stitched matching towel to adorn the cupcake apron in that silent auction basket ..

mg I dig plants embroidered apron

Finishing the canvas aprons (oops, did trim that thread after the photo) …

mg Embroidered Avant Gardener tote

Finishing the canvas totes, getting everything packed and to the conference …

MG Marketplace table Front

Making signs, snapping a few pics mid set-up ..

MG Reception at Tenaya

And then mustering the energy to enjoy our wonderful reception with my fellow Master Gardeners at the Tenaya Lodge ..

UC Master Gardener Conference Yosemite

Joining 650 other California Master Gardeners for informative sessions over 3 days..

Heims at UC Master Gardener Conference

And make it all the way to the closing Horticultural Humor presentation, plus demanding drive home through circuitous mountain roads. Believe it or not, I am happy I did it. Haven’t challenged myself craft wise other than the annual mad Christmas push. Raised oodles and oodles of money for my group – a lot of their funding goes to the school gardens they run across our county. And, finally – best of all- I had a fantastic time at the conference itself.

Be sure to stop by Sundays in My City to see what kinds of things that global group spend their time doing.

Murphys Irish Days and St. Patrick’s Bling post 1

I’m an Irish gal (my dad was born there) living in a town called Murphy’s and our biggest event of the year is Murphy’s Irish days. I can always count on houseful of guests and even a backup crew or two of guests for that weekend (did I mention it’s a really really big deal here?). A little bling to toast the Irish is something that gets use.

One of my holiday bling items is aprons (love to cook and bake, love crafts…). This apron follows the patterns and instructions I’ve shared on Apron Redo and for Halloween here. The fabric, which has the requisite sparkly gold, is from JoAnn and Wrights trim provides the edging. The St. Patrick’s Day postcard vintage, or a different choice, can be downloaded from Vintage holiday crafts.com for free. It’s printed on a sheet from the package of photo transfer fabric. Follow the instructions on your package of photo transfer fabric. They aren’t all the same. I simply cut it out and stitched it on. I will have to handwash this particular apron to ensure my photo transfer remains in good shape. If you love vintage style aprons, take a peek at this selection from Sur La Table to get some great ideas.


For places to stay and other things to do around Murphys, check out my Murphys page.

I participate in the picture linky parties linked at the bottom of this post.

The Dark Side of Ruffles

Loved browsing all the various aprons and Christmas decor bloggers have been sharing  – but I have to tell you, everyone’s using them but no one is talking about the dark side of ruffles. The items for sale, the projects on blogs – they all look so lovely and so perfect. No one shows pictures of what happens when you wash and dry the item. It’s time to fess up folks.

Case in point: I had found this stunning fabric of ruffles stitched to a net backing at JoAnn. Wonderful! So perfect for a large Christmas tablecloth.  Isn’t it just to die for? When I laid it out to be sure it was what I wanted, I fell in love.  Next step, wash and dry the fabric.

Yes, this is the same fabric as the top photo. It shrank a lot, which home sewers can remedy by a prewash and dry before you sew with the fabric – let’s hope all those folks selling do the same thing. I’ve mentioned before in this blog – if sellers are concerned the fabric won’t look “new”, just iron with a bit of starch. If the ruffle fabric wasn’t pre-shrunk – where it is stitched to the backing will get all scrunched up as the fabric shrinks and you’ll have much smaller ruffles than you thought.

Worse, it was a wrinkled mess. Yes, there is that distressed look that’s popular – but if it was THAT popular – wouldn’t folks show you pictures of the items for sale after they’re all wrinkly and “distressed” instead of when the ruffles look so perfect? This can be solved by ironing. But, I for one am not going to iron every single ruffle of a tablecloth or rows of ruffles on an apron. I may make an exception for something like the cuff of a Christmas stocking that would only be about 6 inches wide and you only pull it out once per year.

I’d thought about taking the fabric to the sewing machine and just stitching rows across the ruffles at 3 inch intervals to try to hold them down a bit flatter.  If I wouldn’t also have to stitch rows along the lengths of the ruffles to tack in the netting so the ruffles aren’t so widespread, I might have considered it. But it will take too much to salvage this huge piece of fabric. Need to find someone local much more industrious than me to donate it to.

The other thing I also like to point out is that for those of you making gifts – will your gift recipients really want to have to spend that much time ironing to make something look good?  Food for thought.

So, with ruffles out other than for really minor trim or unless stitched down (the thought being they’d look better after coming out of the dryer if they couldn’t roll up on themselves as much), it’s apron time again.

Went with my favorite tried and true pattern set and instructions as I outlined here and here. Sometimes the bottom flounce is longer, sometimes shorter. The apron is always lined with muslin. Small rows of ruffles are definitely out for me. The Valentine panel was a find at Country Cloth in Angels Camp, it’s by Makower UK with wonderful with truly metallic gold accents. The flounce and bib fabric is from JoAnn – an accent for the fall fest fabric I use quite a bit. The deep red with metallic gold is so perfect for me. The binding is pre-made Wrights trim.

Special Thanks to Melissa at My Craftie Life for featuring this post on her blog!

This post is participating in the following parties:


No Muffintops

When browsing Williams Sonoma a few season’s back, I’d seen this apron.

I immediately fell in love with the simplicity of it. It can be so easy to go for the cute, busy prints offered for the holidays. But this was subdued and I liked that. It wouldn’t be all matchy matchy with other things I use and it wouldn’t clash.  My friends, relatives and I all prefer the full apron without a cinched waist for the simple reason that none of us have the waist to carry that style off.  Half aprons are cute and fast, but as they say of some in skinny jeans, that would result in a muffintop appearance that is a tad unflattering.  My mom used to call it a “potato sack tied in the middle”. Nomenclature changes but the image is the same. The full apron, although not a miracle maker, can mask all those days not spent at the gym with its simple smooth lines (to a certain degree  🙂  ).

I’d been debating about styles to try out and had also saved this picture of an Anthropologie full apron to try although the Williams Sonoma won out. Again, simple and somewhat subdued was the mood I was in when browsing.

Utilized the same pattern I discuss in Apron Redo and line the apron as illustrated in my Halloween version tutorial. Chose the scoop neck over straight and left the bow off the pocket. The ruffle for this one is not from a pattern. It’s simply a long rectangle about 1 1/3 the bottom length of the apron and about 12 inches high. Fabric was JoAnn. The bias trim is Wrights double wide.

I adore how it came out! It’s exactly what I wanted.  Although I was looking for subdued, my sister’s favorite decorating theme is poinsettia and I found this fabric to use for a gift for her, which was also a hit. The Wrights trim in deep green set it off beautifully.

All of us in the U.S. are pushing to get through our Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday so December holiday projects are just starting to appear, more to come.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

Festive, but easily recognizable and Not scary

I’ve been meaning to make a new apron for Halloween.  In my previous neighborhood, you would know the folks in the houses right around you, but not much further. It was my first house and I approached Halloween with excitement donning a mask one year, a veil the next.  But, I noticed some of the little ones were frightened (and I didn’t even go for scary masks). Plus, the whole mask/veil thing meant my neighbors were no closer to recognizing me and any “connection” was lost.

Now I have a festive apron for end of October get togethers and trick or treat night.  The candy goes in a great basket lined with a Halloween cloth napkin.

The first step was looking at the fabric stash – I knew I had enough for an apron without additional fabric shopping.

The photo is the stash laid out on a queen bed. The border panel with paint accents I’ve had for 4 years. I’d made two runners  for myself and a few for my sister, then stopped. It would be perfect for the main ruffle and I’d use tulle for some extra ruffle flirtiness. I love the hats and pumpkins piece and had plenty of that for the main part of the apron. It’s also been patiently waiting some time in my fabric stash.  A bit back I completed a quick Halloween lap blanket with it I wrote about here.  My bat and cat tulle will continue to be table toppers or veils – I decided there was no reason to cut into them for this project.

I played with making another ruffle from pieced smaller scraps, but decided more would make the apron longer than I’d wanted. If I were a taller person, it may have worked. I have plenty of scraps and like the idea –by next Halloween I’ll have figured out what I want to ruffle with it.

For the pattern, I started with the same Simplicity upper piece I used in my cupcake apron, shortening it again. The ruffle was a given as that piece would be used as is.  The bottom edge of it is a bit wavy, which I thought would look nice with the tulle ruffles underneath.  I cut the tulle ruffle pieces to be longer width wise (about a length and 2/3 – don’t have to be fussy with a tulle ruffle) than the panel piece. Each tulle ruffle was also cut to be about an inch and a half longer than the one that would sit above it. The tulle is shades or orange, purple, black and green.

Originally, I’d planned to just have a raw edged tulle. In digging through my bindings and trims, I found I had black lace hem tape and decided that would add a nice touch. On my next outing, I stopped into Country Cloth and picked up some orange hem tape as well.


If you haven’t tried gathering by zig zag stitching over a piece of dental floss – do.  There’s nothing worse than getting a lot of your ruffle done and having the thread you’re pulling snap. Just be sure to not stitch into the floss or it won’t work.

Above you can see the corner of the ruffle plus the dental floss stitched on for gathering.

For stitching a ruffle to an apron, I mark the ruffle (prior to gathering) into quarters.  Then I mark the bottom of the apron piece in quarters.  I pin, right sides together, matching the quarter markings. Then I gently tug on the floss and gather while it’s pinned together.  I find it easy to “even out” this way.  Add more pins when it’s how you like and sew. I cut the muslin lining almost as long as the apron with ruffle. Plan to trim the bottom up more once I see how the layout of the tulle ruffles looks best.

The order of sewing is ruffle to apron, muslin lining to apron piece only, not ruffle and leave bottom edge open. Iron open. Then stitch the tulle ruffles to the lining a bit lower than where the border panel ruffle joins the apron piece. I then stitched on some super big rick rack trim where the ruffle joins the apron piece. I got it on eBay here (and I ran and got some more in Christmas colors before I posted this and sent the rest of you over there J). Then stitch bias trim binding all around.  If you stitch your ties so the ends are within the lining – you won’t be able to easily set off the whole piece in stitching the binding all around. The ties would get in the way (for my reworked apron, I had to remove the ties to be able to add the binding trim, then stitch them back on). With binding – this design takes 2 packets to go around the apron and across on bottom ruffle – always iron the folds out and join your binding pieces to be as long as your project needs before you start. Hem the muslin lining piece to be right up by the tulle ruffles and stitch the ties on last.

Taa Daa!  I love it.  The shot doesn’t do it justice – the colors are much better in person.

This post is participating in the linky parties noted below.

Apron Redo

Like many of us, the Siren’s song of aaaaaawwwwww kitchen apron hit me hard.  Time spent at the sewing machine, the embroidery machine and printing images to cloth has resulted in apron collections for me, those I create handmade Christmas and birthday gifts for and a local charity.  My most recently completed creation is this bright cupcake apron, fabric from JoAnn‘s.

I have a really ancient Simplicity pattern (8106) that had you put buttonholes on a towel piece and buttons on the waist band to fasten a handy cloth right at hand.  I saw it when perusing my patterns and realized, given my complete penchant for creating a total mess (how do other folks keep flour from drifting about or drips and smears from adorning their countertops?) that I must start doing this.


Excuse the look of the pattern – when my kitty companions were young they found their way into a pattern box.  For those of you who know cats, ‘nuff said.

As I was doing a full size apron, the buttons looked better on the hip than waist. I made two at the same time. This one was a gift for a Patricia, thus I embroidered the Embroidery Library Script P on the towel.

I’d also seen a cute heart shaped fingertip pot holder pattern over at Martha Stewart (like her or hate her – she has great recipes and craft patterns, remember she did build her empire starting there, wouldn’t have made it far if were just crap. Her scone and biscotti recipes are staples in my baking for gifts – and me – repertoire).  But I digress. Thought the pot holder would be a nice addition.  Altered mine from her pattern (quilting both the top and the bottom and changing the shape a tad). At the time, I simply cut and made two aprons and stored teh other. Took it out, added a new towel and pot holder and made it part of the Master Gardener donation 2014.

In addition to the half apron, the old pattern also had a simple chef’s apron that I used to rely heavily upon – had a friend who would borrow it often as well.  I really did get excellent use from that pattern. When you find the patterns on cloth irresistible and yearn to possess a fabric the way Gollum obsessed to possess the ring, you look for uses and ways to display that fabric.  The old pattern allowed one solid canvas to display a prized fabric.

But the old pattern no longer resonates for me.  I still love the fabric for my fall apron.  It’s in great shape as the Thanksgiving holiday had been rarely celebrated in my tiny previous home but reserved for relatives with the space to accommodate.  It’s now time for a redo and upcycle.  The cupcake apron was a combo of two patterns. The apron from Simplicity 8720 view E shortened and the flounce from Butterick 6567 also shortened to fit width wise.  I line all of my aprons with muslin. Being a fabric enthusiast, this means that for light colored cottons any pattern you may be wearing underneath the apron will not interfere with the look of it, should you make a mess, stains have less opportunity to bleed through and I strongly prefer the look of a lined apron.

First I added the flounce across the bottom of the apron from a sparkly brown I had in my stash.

Then I added binding made from the flounce material to the apron and binding from the leaf material to the flounce.  On my about page, I use a magpie as analogy – you’ll find it’s a common one for me as I like sparkly things and fabrics.  Fabrics with a sponged gold or iridescence make me quiver in anticipation of what I might create with them.  Think Michael Miller’s Fairy Frost (that I’ve already been stockpiling for my Christmas sewing).  The brown is perfectly sparkled with flecks of gold throughout. The original leaf fabric also has a sponged irridescence.

However improved, this still needs something and is a work in progress.  My intent is to use my embroidery machine to create a lined maple leaf pocket for this apron.  I’ll blow up one of my appliqué patterns from Embroidery Library.  I’d found some brown towels and tan towels, but neither color is right and this isn’t a gift. I’ll just have to make myself reach for my towels and potholders.  When completed I’ll post the final picture here.