Tuesday, July 12, 2011



                     Martha’s Sewing Market takes place each May or June in Arlington, Texas. For thirteen years now we have been one of her vendors. We are known to locals as “The Grapevine Collection of Fabrics” but more recently we are thought of as Sew It Up. Each of the three days of the sewing show there are 4-5 free seminars offered to the attendees. This year one of the seminars that I choose to present was “The Essential Summer Wardrobe”. I poured over cataloques and fashion magazines and frequented many many shops all in the name of research. I was looking for something special to add to my wardrobe and hence the seminar. One particular item that caught my eye in a catalogue; I studied it closely. There was no back view (not even on the company’s website!), but that did not deter me. It was made out of a sweater knit, but that did not discourage me either. The description stated that is was 30” long in the back - that was sufficient information for me to commence experimenting. Hmm . . . I measured from the nape of my neck to my waist. This would be the length of my “finished” shrug. Not nearly 30”, but then I am a mere 5’2”.  Then I measured from wrist to wrist across my upper back. This would be the width of my “finished” shrug.

Closeup: The Hemband

See, it really is a rectangle!

I chose a black wool gauze for my experimental shrug. My vision of this new shawl-like addition to my wardrobe required a wide hemband around its entirity. The “cuffs”  of the “sleeves” needed to be even wider in my opinion. I decided that a 1 ½” hemband along both lengthwise edges would be pretty while the hemband at each end, for the cuffs, needed to be 4”. I added another ½”  to each edge to have ample fabric to be able to turn under. Then I proceeded to cut out my rectangle.

  1. width = measurement across upper back over your shoulders to the whatever length you desire your “sleeves” to be + 9” (4” x 2), for the hemband, + 1” ( ½” x 2)  for the seam allowances.
  2. Length=measurement from the nape of your neck to your waist + 3” (1 ½” x 2), for the hemband, + 1” ( ½” x 2) for the seam allowances, + another 3” for ease so that your shrug “blouses” a little in the back.
  3. Next step was to fold under all of the edges by ½”; press well.
  4. Fold up all of the edges again for the hembands as given above; press well & pin.
  5. Topstitch in place and press again to make it “pretty”.
  6. Now fold your rectangle in half lengthwise overlapping one of the lengthwise  hembands over the other. Start pinning each end in place for about 5” on each side. These will become your sleeves.
  7. Carefully (remember the pins!) try on your shrug to determine if  the sleeves are pinned up enough. They should fit comfortably close to, but not necessarily touching your armpit.
  8. You could finish the sleeves by merely topstiching the two hembands together, BUT this is a perfect opportunity to add a design element. In other words, embellish! I sewed four novelty buttons on each side to close up my sleeves by sewing the buttons through both layers of the hembands. I spaced mine evenly apart by about 3”.  So, this shrug, my first, is a long-sleeved shrug. It required eight buttons.
Since this first shrug, I have made another, but a short sleeved one. I love it! The widthwise measurement of the shrug is considerable shorter. I made this one out of a silvery blue/gray embroidered rayon chiffon. I space my buttons, which were smaller than for my black shrug, much closer together and only used a total of 6 buttons. You certainly could make traditional button holes for your sleeve buttons, but frankly why?

I am now ready to make a third shrug. This time with ¾ length sleeves and out of a double faced plaid cotton gauze. Truly a one of a kind fabric! My intention is to wear this one with a white cami and jeans – a more casual look than the first two. Appropriate for our Texas heat while covering up adequately for the chill of air conditioning.

So, go make a shrug! 
They couldn’t be easier and they are pretty quick to make. Most of your time will be spent just ironing the hembands and then it is just one row of stitching around its perimeter.  Since I did not bring my sewing machine with me this year to the cabin, I will sew up this third shrug by hand.

Send me a picture of your first shrug! I'll post a pictures of this new one later in the week!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The 4th in Rico, Colorado

Rico has a great small town 4th of July Parade!
            Naturally I was playing, visiting and cooking up a storm on the 4th so I did not have an opportunity to share my pictures as I had hoped. Every summer my husband and I make a pilgrimage to southwest Colorado to rest and find ourselves again.  In 1975 my father-in-law built a log cabin in Rico, Colorado for all of the family. He is longer with us and as of a couple of weeks ago, neither is the mother of his children. We feel their love in this cabin. We spent our honeymoon here in 1976 and subsequently brought our children and their friends here.  Indeed I always feel like I have “come home” when we vacation here. Someday, in the not too distant future, we will retire in this same area. 

A REAL vintage fire truck!

The old mining town of Rico is very very small. The Delores River, as well as highway 145, run through the town with homes on both sides.  There is no grocery here; just a gas station, a small post office, an elementary school, the old town hall and a liquor store. A couple of years ago a drive-thru coffee hut opened (surprisingly, and fortunately, it is still open) and this summer a small bistro/laundromat  has opened for business,  its called "Dew South".  Yes, it is a small town, but on the 4th of July it is like Christmas here – except no snow! ~ They had snow this year through May!

There are antique cars too! . . . and town divas!
People come from miles aroud to celebrate the 4th here. They gather for the parade. It is quaint, but I would hate to miss it. The volunteer fire department is out in full force “passing the boot” and selling Duck Race tickets to fund their spectacular fireworks show. Immediately following the parade, the highway is opened back up for traffic. Yes, all thru traffic must patiently wait the mere 20 minutes it takes for nearly half the town to parade down Main Street! Immediately following, the “crowd” ambles down to the elementary school for the combination Arts & Crafts Sale, Library Book Sale & Quilt Show! From here you go down to the fire station for breakfast. A local Indian tribe prepares some kind of mouth watering breakfast taco – if you want one, be prepared to stand in a long long line. But, fear not, the local community band seranades you while you wait.

Of course, all of the neighboring Boy Scouts got to march in the parade!

Check out this wonderful float!
Before going to the Fire House to serenade the hungry folks, they get to be in the parade too - naturally!

I think that this may be the local princess!!!!

Even tiny town divas - in their own cars!
There is a picnic in the park later in the afternoon, but not until after the Duck Race! I wouldn’t want to miss this event either! At about 1:30 approximately 500 yellow rubber ducks are “released” off the highway bridge. Each has a black number on their belly. About a quarter of a mile downstream everyone gathers at a small bridge to watch them be scooped up in nets by the local firemen and their wives. The men stand barefoot with their pants rolled up. Their wives sport stylish wet suits . . . the temperature of the water is about 40. As they catch the cute little yellow duckies they yell out the numbers of the first 25 or so as the winners of the race. Yes, there are prizes! Everyone, including the entire dog population, either stands on the bridge or on the banks cheering wildly. I know the race seems really lame, but it is a custom here & the childish simplicity of the event has been come dear to me. 
Catching those speedy Rubber Duckies!
One of the locals taking in the Duck Race!

At dusk the locals and visiting campers commence shooting off their personal arsenal of fireworks. We sit out on the front porch of the cabin, slightly above town, snuggled in wool blankets (it is in the 50’s by now) in anticipation of the highlight of the 4th of July festivities. Soon we spot several truck headlights heading up a mountain across the valley on an old mining road. We know that these are the same talented Duck catching volunteer fire and rescue men that will now conduct “the show”. I never pay any attention to how long this takes them to set up as there is so much other fireworks going off all over town. One year someone lit a bar of magnesium down by the river. We all thought that some camper was attempting to burn up the town. It was just a little added excitement for the evening! As darkness envelops us, a million stars magically appear. They seem brighter on the 4th somehow. Finally the show commences with a thunderous introduction of the BIG fireworks. Obviously, this is not more of the same from the townfolk! If you have ever experienced the sounds and brightness of fireworks in the mountains, then you know what I mean by the resounding echos that reverberate throughout the valley. It is awesome and we enjoy the spectacle for nearly an hour. We are mesmerized. Then we scramble back inside to warmth and fresh peach pie and vanilla icecream. Can it get any better? I hope that all of you had as much fun as we did!
Happy 4th . . . belatedly!  . . . here are some the awesome fireworks pictures that I took!