SMYLY- Sewing Makes You Love Yourself -Sewing Contest

In my last post, I wrote how sewing is therapy, releasing endorphins that calm an anxious mind, giving a sense of satisfaction of a job well done, and utilizing the right side of the brain, especially after a week of left-brain analytic activity.

And now I present a sewing contest that encourages all sewists out there to share your creations as well as your sewing story. It is called SMYLY – Sewing Makes You Love Yourself. You can read about it here.

Here is my entry and my story:


This is the Heather Dress from Sew Over It.My sewing story is that I have sewed since I was about 12 but once I became a mom I didn’t have as much time to sew for myself. I sewed a lot of curtains, costumes, and Easter dresses for my three daughters. I taught them to sew and we have lots of happy memories sewing together.

But all four of my children are now adults and I miss them so much. My husband and I are enjoying our “sweetheart years” as my friend referred to the empty nest, but I find myself drifting toward sadness and borderline depression. Quite honestly, parenting young adults is the hardest time of parenting EVER, mostly because I can’t do much. And so I’m prone to worrying about them A LOT, which isn’t good, of course. And that’s where sewing comes into the picture.

Here’s another Heather Dress!

So I’ve really ramped up my sewing in the last five years or so. It has brought me a very satisfying, productive, distraction from that which would try to take me down. The Heather dress, in particular, is comfortable, classy, practical, and lovely at the same time. I feel great in it.




Gail's Nest · Pattern Review

Sewing as Therapy

I heard an amazing podcast on Love to Sew. It was Episode 25 with Caz Adams from Useful Box. She’s an Aussie sewist who nearly lost her life after the birth of her son. As she recovered from the trauma, sewing became a way to return to equilibrium.

I was totally relating. Sewing is therapy for me too. I love to sew. I’ve been sewing since I was in junior high. Once I became a mom my sewing was reduced to curtains, costumes, and Easter dresses. But now that my kids are adults I am finding solace and healing from life’s stressors in sewing.

This is what sewing does for me:

  • It tickles my right brain’s desire for creativity.
  • It releases endorphins that trigger such a sense of calm, satisfaction, and peace.
  • It provides an outlet of escape from tension and stress.
  • It makes me so happy and proud of my accomplishments.

Two recent therapy sessions produced these fun projects:

The first is a cat house from a free pattern from See Kate Sew. I used fabric from my scrap bin and just had to buy the 1/2 inch foam. I thought it would be complicated but I found the directions to be straight forward, clear, and correct. It came together pretty easily. I gave it to my daughter, Rachael, and her hubby, Tom, for their cat, Inara.


I think she likes it! SCORE!! (Yes the endorphins are flowing right now!!)

My second therapy project was a tote. I found this pattern at The Inspired Wren.


I found the directions a little complicated (certainly not for a beginner), but the pictures were helpful. I bought heavy cotton (from the remnant section at Joann’s) and used lining from my stash. The suggestion for the bottom panels was to use duck cloth but I used black vinyl that I had leftover from another project. I was so happy with the result. Here are pics from the process:


Ahhhhh. I feel sooooo good. Try it. It’s what the doctor ordered.






Gail's Nest

The Art of Ironing



I walked into my friend’s home and saw a familiar sight: shirts draped over a chair and an ironing board waiting nearby, I said to her, “Yay – a kindred spirit! A fellow ironer! We ironers are few and far between! It’s a lost art, isn’t it?” She agreed.

Really, it’s more like a curse. My mother ironed everything – even T-shirts and jeans! So naturally I couldn’t NOT iron. But when people stopped by and would catch me ironing they inevitably would say, “Why are you ironing?” Here’s my answer: I DON’T KNOW!! I’m sorry, but I just can’t seem to get to the dryer exactly when it finishes to get out the shirts. So my clothes come out a little wrinkly.  So I hang them up and put them in my ironing closet until I have a block of time to do about 20 shirts. It’s in my dna, I guess. I just like to the look and feel of a nice crisp shirt.

Would you like to know the steps to ironing? Here they are:

  1. Set up your ironing board and iron. Get the iron hot.DSC00493
  2. Put on a favorite TV show or netflix movie.DSC00494
  3. Use the wide part of the board to do men’s shirts. The narrower part is better for skirts and dresses.DSC00496
  4. Iron the right front, the back, the left front, and then give the collar a good pressing. I like to use Magic Sizing spray to give it a light stiffness.DSC00498
  5. Next press the shoulders and the yoke.DSC00500
  6. Next do the sleeves one at a time, folding them so the underarm seam is at the bottom and you can get a nice crisp pressing.DSC00499 - Copy

That’s it! How was the movie?



Gail's Nest · Jewelry

Steampunk Jewelry Tutorial

Everybody should do something creative! It’s quite the stress reliever and the joy of producing something that is fun, beautiful, and that people actually like receiving as gifts is very satisfying. So here are my latest makes:


Steampunk is a style that is hard to describe verbally – it is mechanical parts, watch parts, keys. It is Victorian Sci-Fi. You’ll see it in modern movies, literature and fashion. Words that describe steampunk are corsets, lace, time travel, metal, futuristically old.

If you’re still puzzled, here are a couple of images to give you the gist:

Can’t say I’m into the fashion, but I love the jewelry and it is so fun to make because you are putting together metal parts in a way that only suits yourself! I started by pinning some of my favorites on pinterest.

So where do you find the parts? Look around your home and collect washers, springs, old watches, and keys. I really hit the jackpot when I walked into an antique store and discovered a desk with lots of drawers. I started pulling out the drawers and found a bag of watch parts. I asked the owner how much the watch parts were, and he said they went with the desk, as he put them in the drawers for interest in the desk. I said I didn’t want the desk but only the watch parts. He was confused and asked why I wanted watch parts. I told him I would like to make jewelry with them. He hesitated for a moment and then said, “The watches were my dad’s and I’d love to know they had a second life. You can just have the watch parts for free.” Yippee!

So after sorting through the pile, I picked out a few pieces and washed them. Here is a step by step of how I made them. The first ones are my washer necklaces: DSC00711

I traced around the washers on colorful scrapbooking paper and cut them out and then superglued them onto the washer:


Then I put about 3 coats of a dura-gloss to give them a shiny raised look:


It was easy to slip a cord through the middle.

Next, I superglued watch parts. The above pic shows a washer with an old watchface and springs glued together. I used a metal-gloss product to spray over them to give them a sprinkly shine:


I looked for parts that naturally had holes to slip earring loops or jump rings through them:


Here are my other photos. If you are interested in purchasing any of them they will soon be available at our etsy store.


Let me know if you try to make steampunk jewelry! I’d love to hear from you.




Family Activities · Lydia's Nest

January Update

Whoa, that was a long accidental hiatus! Sorry folks. Here’s some of what we’ve been up to in the meantime!

-Deacon turned one. My baby is a whole year old! He’s a champ, running all over the house, eating everything that he can find that is edible (and some things that aren’t).

-We moved! Cory has recently been hired as the Lead Pastor at Goshen First Brethren Church in Indiana. This meant a fairly quick move for us, and while we miss friends and family in Ashland, it has been very exciting to see what God is doing here.

-Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas. We had a wonderful time celebrating the holidays with loved ones. Deacon’s first Christmas was a blast, and he knew just what to do with all those presents!

But perhaps the biggest news of all, (and part of the reason I’ve been MIA here on the blog)…

-WE’RE EXPECTING! Baby number two will be making his or her appearance at the end of June. (If you’re trying to do the math, that means the kids will be 21 months apart). We’re so excited to meet this new little one!

Thanks for tuning in! Stay warm!

Gail's Nest · Pattern Review · Refashion

Refashioner’s Challenge 2017 #Suits You My Second Entry – A Jumper!

Presenting… my second entry:


If you read my previous post you know I’ve entered the Refashioner’s Challenge 2017. This is the third year I’ve participated. Each year Portia Lowrie of the UK challenges the global refashioning community to make something out of a used garment. The first year I participated the challenge was to make something out of a men’s shirt. I made a mini-jacket.  The second year the challenge was to make something out of jeans. I did a patchwork jacket.

So I guess I like jackets because I submitted my remake of a man’s suit:


You can read about the process here. 

Anyway… all that as way of introduction to my second entry of this year’s contest. And this one IS NOT a jacket!

So here is how I got to this place…

First it started with a trip to the thrift store. I went to the Goodwill in Ashland, OH where I found four suits for $12! I chose 2 suits out of the 4 I bought for my jumper:


My inspiration for the project came from a bit of history. French designer, Yves St. Laurent, back in the 60s designed a dress called the Modarian. His inspiration was from a painting by Piet Modarian:


Next, I chose a pattern:


My next step was to dye the suits. I used a dark blue that more or less matched the color of the wool suit but gave the yellow one a bluish hue. Then came the big step of deconstructing:

It was tricky to lay out the pattern. I wanted to keep a chest pocket in the skirt. At times I had to fold the pattern piece in half and plan to put in an extra seam so I could cut out everything I needed:

I picked out a cotton lining fabric that would contrast nicely with the blue. It was a cherry red with polka dots. I decided to also use it to accent with my color blocking:


I ended up using it to line the whole dress because the back of a deconstructed suit is really a sight to behold. It’s full of seams, interfacings, pockets, etc. In addition, the wool would be scratchy otherwise, so it made sense to just line the whole thing:


I found these amazing buttons at an antique store in Hammondsport, NY.  They are made from black glass and I thought they would look nice on my Modarian dress:


In the end, the overall look was fun. This was an easy pattern for intermediate sewers. Here are more finished pics:




Gail's Nest · Pattern Review · Refashion

“Suits You” Refashioner’s Challenge 2017

For the third year now, I’ve participated in the Refashioner’s Challenge put on by Portia Lowrie of the UK. This year she declared the challenge to be men’s suits. So the goal is to make a refashion out of an old suit. All last month she posted featured bloggers who used their creative geniuses to give the rest of us some inspiration. My favorites included this women’s jacket made from a suit and the cami made from its lining.   Another awesome make was this gorgeous coral linen dress made from a thrift store find. I also really liked this loose fitting vest that could go over just about anything.

So… off to the thrift store for me. I was visiting my daughter, Lydia, in OH, and went to the Goodwill there. It just so happened that there was a sale! You really feel like you find pirate’s treasure when you find a sale at a thrift store! So I picked out four suits that suited me and it cost a whopping $12 for all four!


So there was plenty to work with. Now… what do I choose to make? On to pinterest for ideas! I’ve always admired a nice Coco Chanel jacket:


My other favorite sewing blogger is Lisa Comfort from Sew Over It.   She recently release her own version of the Coco Jacket:


It would be a double challenge for me to do this pattern, which of course starts with a pdf print out, and harvest the material from an old suit. But I love a good challenge. So onward!

The first thing I did, after choosing which of the four I’d use, was wash and then dye the suit. I actually dyed it a similar color to even out the coloring and cover up a couple of stains.



The next step was to unpick the suit apart, which meant to separate the lining. I decided to cut out the sleeves and just adjust them and resew them back in.


Then it was all about preparing the pattern and figuring out how to lay out the pieces. I soon realized the pattern pieces weren’t all going to fit. So I used the lining material I purchased to create a back panel.


I liked the chest pocket so I left that intact.


The finished garment looks like this:



The pattern instructions were clear and overall I was pleased with the result. Next time I do this I will unpick the sleeves and re-cut them according to the pattern as I wasn’t super happy about how they ended up looking in spite of my adjustments.

I plan to give this a second go with another suit. So stay tuned!

What will YOU do? Go to Refashioner’s Challenge to find out how to enter.