Tag Archives: sewing

Mad Men – Season 5

Slow start to this Monday due to ringing in the season five premiere of Mad Men. Thank goodness it’s spring break!

As usual, I got together with my wonderful group of Sunday night ladies. The icing on the cake is my mother is in town – so she tagged along for the crazy antics of Mad Men fanatics, 60s inspired nibbles, corks a popping, and muddling madness for a proper old fashioned.

My mother-in-law knew I was prepping for this event (I mean, we waited for 17 months!) and she wondered why we weren’t making another dress this time around. Honestly, I started my prep a bit on the late side – so I just went for simple crafting that did not require too much supervision.

(Hubby did step in with his T-square to help me line up the letters – so I guess that was some supervision. And yes, we are a fun, crazy, and over-crafting, multigenerational house – 24/7).

The season five opener, for Mad Men, was totally juicy. There was so much to digest, analyze, relate back to previous episodes, and swoon over.

5 juicy takeaways for me:

  • Megan Draper has solidified in my mind – I need to get back to learning French.
  • Lane Pryce was in love with the Black Playboy Bunny  – but can’t trust the Black cab driver with a wallet.
  • Pete Campbell  is a cry baby and can’t get out of his own way.
  • Roger Sterling wants to be Don Draper – and Jane Sterling wants Roger to be Don Draper, too.
  • Joan Harris needs my coaching on how to work with her mother and benefit from a granny nanny. (Roger being the baby daddy and smoking while holding his son – well that’s a completely different blog post.)

Even though Joan is a fictional character, she does represent a lot of challenges mothers and working mother experience. I mean, my group of friends and I did a lot of yelling at the television when Joan was completely exhausted, called her mother out for needing “granny formula”, stressed about being replaced at work, and the overall overwhelm that comes from having a baby.

If I could call Joan up and coach her a bit on creating a positive “granny nanny” relationship, I would encourage the following:

  • Invite your mother to be a caregiving partner (use that language). That’s a different expectation than being your mom and being the grandmother of your baby.
  • Establish some norms. Tell your mother what type of mom you are trying to be for the next 3 months – and ask her, directly, if she can help you do this.
  • Admit your fears. Tell your mother what you are fearing the most as a new mother. Ask her to share her fears when she became a mother. Look for the commonalities – then use this as an opportunity to grow and build a stronger caregiving partner bond.
  • Exercise some healthy selfishness.  Ask for what you need – so that you’ll be able to take care of yourself – and then do a great job taking care of your baby.
  • Focus on the positive and stay in the moment. Many interactions will be stressful, tiring, and annoying. Come up with a phrase your mother and you can say (or shout) to bring you back to the present moment when you are going down a bumpy road. Suggestion: Martini time!

What other suggestions do you have for Joan?


The Sewing Machine {guest post}

Written by my mother-in-law, G.B.

There have been several.  But they have never been just a machine.  Sometimes they are the means to a dream.  Sometimes they are strongly connected to memories.  And they from been there from childhood. 

My Grandmother’s was a treadle machine.  You didn’t need electricity.  You were the power.  On extended visits during my childhood, doll clothes were made on it.  Or failure was learned there.  It was a diversion between exploring her extensive flower gardens, sitting on the long kitchen counter observing the production of great desserts, or playing in the jewelry box.  And she had vast resources of material.

Another was my Mom’s Kenmore.  It lived in a cabinet in the corner of the dining room.  It didn’t zig.  It didn’t zag.  But it sewed straight back and forth.  There were gadgets in the top drawer to make great buttonholes.

Of the four girls in the family, the oldest and youngest learned to sew.  Sewing was more of necessity then.  The 4-H sewing leader was fantastic.  That machine produced pencil skirts, sheath dresses, jackets and many, many patched jeans and overalls and one wedding dress, 2 bridesmaid dresses. 

A recent catalog advertized patched boyfriend jeans for $99.50.  And I thought , if my mom could have seen that ad.  Her patches were artistic in comparison.  Mom kept a tapestry on it that was a wedding gift in 1941.  That is folded in one of my boxes.

I bought my own portable in 1964.  Portable?  It weighed a ton.  It was not a favorite.  It was replaced by a Bernina in 1974.  It sewed countless sundresses, robes, shirts, costumes,  and quilts.  It passed on in 2005.

Now I only have a light weight portable that zigs and zags and does stretch stitches.  It has sewed matching dresses for granddaughters and robes for all the grandkids.  I made many memory teddy bears and celebration bears and bear playmates on it.  I have not purchased a serger or computerized machine. 

And in my space I also have a very old Singer.  I knew a man who repaired tents in WWII.  He raved about the machine he used and even owned one like it.  I asked him that IF he ever wanted to get rid of it to remember me.  No, but he volunteered to find one like it.  So I have a vintage gear-driven Singer that will sew through anything.  Out of its cabinet it wears a ton.  But it is cute.  It doesn’t zig and doesn’t zag.               


September 10 is Sewing Machine Day.

images 1, 2, 3

Mother-in-law + email forward = family history via an apron

I was going through my email account and deleting old messages, when I came across this email exchange with my mother-in-law. I don’t normally forward random email messages, but this one, about aprons, was very timely for our multigenerational family.

We were approaching the holiday season and I was gearing up for some apron making.

From: Kanesha
To: G
Sent: Thu, November 4, 2010 11:00:15 AM
Subject: FW: Aprons

So excited to make aprons with you!


Subj: Fw: Aprons
(Notice that a “Medium” is a size 14 – 16)

The History of  ’APRONS’

I don’t think our kids know what an apron is. The principle use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few and because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons required less material.  But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold, Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.

Send this to those who would know (and love) the story about Grandma’s aprons.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool.  Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron – but love…

When life was sweet.

-Source of the poem is unknown and I Googled.

aprons 1, 2

From: G
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2010 12:01 PM
To: Kanesha
Subject: Re: Aprons

My grandma always wore an apron.  My mom not so much.  My grandma always wore one of those caps that looks like a shower cap because she always milked cows by hand, resting her head against their side.  She did this until she was down to one cow in her 80′s.  I think she had an inside apron and an outside apron.  I hope so. She served fresh (still warm milk) in a white  pitcher.   She also had a wash house.  And a magic basement.  She let grandkids sit on her counter and watch her bake.  At least she did me.  I don’t know about the others.



Here are some pictures of aprons my mother-in-law has made for us.


Mad sewing for the holidays

In November, I was thinking about a fun and creative gift I could make for my Sunday night ladies’ group. My mother-in-law and I were chatting about various projects and she reminded me about our (the group’s) mild obsession with Mad Men. She asked if there were any ideas or themes I could draw from the show that would inspire a Mad Men-esque gift.

Well, none of us (in the group) planned to take up smoking and it’s not appropriate for us to move a “happy spirits” cart into our work offices. What were my other options? I thought about the sewing project my mother-in-law I worked on for the season four finale of Mad Men, and then it hit me…aprons!

I could make aprons for my friends, fabulous aprons that would channel the feisty and cocktail mixing women of Mad Men.

My mother-in-law was excited about this project too and went to her sewing library and brought out a Hoard’s Dairyman Pattern.

The pattern was gorgeous and vintage. It was a mail order pattern that my mother-in-law’s “step-grandmother” had sent for. I was almost afraid to touch the pattern because it was such a slice of historical Americana (plus super old). The pattern was also way too advanced for my sewing skills.

Plan B

My mother-in-law went to her craft book library and produced A Is for Apron. What a fun book! I had a great time looking at various aprons that were funky and less intimidating.

In the end, I selected a more than easy See and Sew pattern.  Hubby and I shopped, my little guy helped me pin the pattern pieces (*my mother-in-law taught him how to do that), and then hubby and I spent a weekend sewing.

We also managed to have a few Man Men-esque cocktails while sewing. (Hey, we were channeling the show’s characters.)

The aprons came out great and my hubby suggested making matching **hot pads with the leftover scraps from the apron material. I added a martini glass and crantini mix to the gift bags to accompany the aprons and hot pads.

The gift was a great hit with the ladies, and my sewing skills have improved immensely.

*My mother-in-law taught my hubby how to sew when he was growing up. This is great, but the downside is he took a lovely down comforter, that we had received as a wedding gift, and turned it into a sleeping bag. No, I was not happy. There were feathers all over the condo (where we were living at the time) and I had no idea you could buy zipper by the yard. That was seven years ago and we’re still happily married.

**My hubby and mother-in-law use the term hot pads instead of potholders. I think it’s kinda cute.

Mad Men Photos: Betty, Cast


{this moment} 11.19.10

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Make something special this weekend.

Visit SouleMama to see more {this moment} posts.


Mad sewing for the Mad Men finale

The blogosphere, this week, has been all a buzz about the season four finale of Mad Men. (This was my favorite – synopsis. Spoiler alert!)

Yes, I got together with my Sunday night girls’ group and yes; we watched the finale – two times in a row.

We ate too much and sipped decadent libations. It was a fabulous time!

In addition to the aforementioned girlfriend time, I also carved out some quality mother-in-law time. My mother-in-law and I worked together to sew a dress that I would wear to my Mad Men finale soiree.

I guess I should mention I approached my mother-in-law, via email, on a Thursday (3 days before the finale), about making the dress. Her response, an enthusiastic, “Sure!”

On Saturday, we took a short trip to a gorgeous little fabric shoppe. The owner was there, at 10am, in an elegant and whimsical blazer and flowing skirt. She looked like magic. She described for us her clothing room (not closet) and how being in her own fabric shoppe made her want more beautiful things. My mother-in-law and I were hanging on the owner’s every word.

I walked through the store touching everything barely keeping my squeals of delight to myself. My mother-in-law beamed with excitement as she pointed out gorgeous fabrics and pondered all the magnificent things she could create.

We were giddy and having a great time. I felt like it was 1998 again, when my mother-in-law and I were at glorious fabric shoppe in Chicago picking out fabric for my wedding dress.

Back to the present…

We selected a dreamy silk and wool fabric, by Armani, for the dress. Every time we touched it, we both sighed with enchantment.

Look at us hard at work!

Working on projects with my mother-in-law is important to me and I always try to find ways for the two of us to be together – on our own – without too many interruptions. With me working outside the home, raising a family, having my own time, and a super active social life – I have to consciously make room in my schedule to hang out with my mother-in-law.

My son telling my mother-in-law he should be allowed to use the electric scissors

It’s not a duty and it’s not contrived. Creating these opportunities allows me to learn more about my mother-in-law; to learn about her as a woman – and not only as the mother of my husband and the grandmother of my children.

During the making of this dress, my mother-in-law and I laughed about how we ran out of fabric while cutting out the pattern pieces for my wedding dress, and I didn’t freak out (openly). My mother-in-law told me about all the 60s style dresses, with cute jackets, she had made for herself.  We giggled about the reappearance of stirrup leggings and leg warmers, and how I’m still very much a leg-warmer proponent. (Well…blame it on Flashdance!)

The dress turned out gorgeous. Now I need another party to attend and soon!