Thursday, July 28, 2011

Shabby Apple Dress Giveaway

Whether you are setting sail for summer vacation ...

Or on the lookout for summer sales, Shabby Apple has got you covered with dresses for women and little girls. Through the end of July, get 20 percent off summer dresses plus free shipping with the code SUMMER20. We still have plenty of warm weather coming our way in the South, so shirtdresses like the playful gingham Overboard pictured above or the classic chambray Toe the Line in the first photo are certain to get plenty of use well into fall.

Whether on the go or on vacation, you are sure to sail through your day in Shabby Apple's Marseilles dress. Shabby Apple is offering readers of A Little Loveliness an opportunity to win this sea-blue poplin striped faux-wrap dress featured in O Magazine.

Leave separate comments below for more opportunities to win this classic blue dress.

(1) Visit Shabby Apple and tell me what dress you would like to toss in your suitcase for your dream vacation.
(2) Like Shabby Apple of facebook.
(3) Like A Little Loveliness on facebook.
(4) Follow A Little Loveliness on Networked Blogs.
(5) Follow A Little Loveliness (find the link on my sidebar).

Do any or all of the above, but be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry. I will announce the winner next week.

Take advantage of the Shabby Apple 20 percent off sale plus free shipping through week's end with code SUMMER20. If you need a little more time to browse and miss the summer sale, you can use the code alittleloveliness for a 10 percent discount -- good for the next 30 days. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tea Towel Tips & Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the tea towel doll dress giveaway. The winner of the ecru dress with embroidery and butterfly trim is Karenduchs. Karen asked what a tea towel is, and I found this helpful explanation on ehow:

The term "tea towel" originates in England and refers to the type of towel the lady of the house used to dry her china tea service as well as other valuable serving pieces. ... The tea towel's highly absorbent, lint free, soft features appealed to ladies requiring the right towel to thoroughly dry their delicate china and serve ware. The material they're made from also provides a workable background for decorating with either embroidery or printing. ... Tea towels are commonly made of linen. Linen fibers come from the flax or linseed plants, which provide the highly absorbent properties so important in the tea towel. Tea towels are also made from a linen cotton blend and various other fibers but only the pure linen is lint free.

Designed for kitchen use, tea towels work well for lining tea trays, covering warm scones or drying dishes. Decorative tea towels can be displayed -- draped over a towel rack in the bathroom, framed to hang on the wall, or overlapped across ribbon that spans a window for a sweet window treatment. And with their finished edges and delicate embroidery, tea towels offer vast crafting possibilities, as well. Spend a memorable afternoon with a little girl in your life making pillowcase-style sundresses using tea towels; this tutorial shows you how. Tea towels can be picked up inexpensively at linen shops and antique stores. And with their many uses, it is worth gathering a collection of pretty tea towels.

If you did not win today's giveaway, stop by tomorrow for another surprise -- this one designed with you in mind!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Refinishing Steps

During the past few weeks, most of the flooring in our home has been replaced. It has made for a hectic month, but I am enjoying the fresh new look the update has brought. I will share more of our results as I get rooms fully decorated, but in the meantime wanted to share photos of a one-day project. 

We got our flooring from my in-laws' fabulous floor covering business, The Mill Store in LaGrange, Ga. Installer Bo was very helpful in advising me in household projects, and he encouraged me to refinish our steps to make them look new and fresh.

So I took advantage of a quiet day while Joe and the children were out to freshen the staircase. Bo encouraged me to sand the steps, then clean them thoroughly with mineral spirits.  Once they were clean, I applied fresh paint to the risers, then brushed on a coat of polyurethane to the treads. Bo advised me to choose a durable 50-year semi-gloss polyurethane. I followed package directions for applying the polyurethane, going back to re-coat the steps twice more at four-hour intervals to ensure a lasting finish.

Here is the completed project. With our active family, I am certain the risers will need to be repainted from time to time. But Bo encouraged me to refinish the treads, saying I might not need to do it again for as long as we own the house. That's pretty good for one day's work! (If only cleaning the bathroom was a one-time project.)

If you haven't entered my current giveaway, check out this post for an opportunity to win a sweet little doll dress. I will announce the winner tomorrow!

"Often, what seems an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in." -- Robert Brault

Monday, July 25, 2011

Icebox Pie


Our family enjoyed this pretty pink pie last week -- a quick and easy recipe from my friend Taryn. This recipe makes three pies, so in minutes you will have one to savor, one to save and one to share.

Icebox Pie
Enjoy this refreshing pie straight from the freezer.

3 graham cracker crusts
Large frozen juice concentrate, thawed
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
16 ounces whipped dairy topping, thawed
Food coloring
Mix juice, condensed milk and food coloring until blended. Fold in whipped dairy topping until blended. Pour into crusts. Freeze at least 4 hours. Serve frozen. (Note: I used pink lemonade frozen concentrate and pink food coloring. Taryn's family also recommends using orange, limeade or lemonade concentrate with coordinating food colorings.)

"I don't think a really good pie can be made without a dozen or so children peeking over your shoulder as you stoop to look in at it every little while."  -- John Gould

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Tennessee Walk

Last week I had the privilege of speaking for the annual summer Christian Training Series at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn. Although I spoke for a ladies day in Henderson a couple of years ago, this was really my first visit to campus. I must say, I fell in love with this Christian school almost immediately. During one of our session breaks, I walked around the quaint neighborhood that surrounds FHU. 

This beautiful home belonged to a former president of the school, A.G. Freed, one of the men for whom the university is named. The Freed House is currently a funeral home, and the home and grounds are immaculately maintained.

Crepe myrtles brightened the path on my Tennessee walk.

The N.B. Hardeman House is the former home place of the other man for whom Freed-Hardeman is named. I enjoyed a delicious lunch in the Hardeman house during my visit. After getting a tour of the home, I am even more eager to return to Henderson for one of the FHU Associates' biggest events of the year: the annual Victorian Tea Party, held the first weekend of May.

This arbor caught my eye across the street from the Hardeman House.

This lovely home serves as the FHU Alumni House.

A highlight of my week at Freed was spending time with people who bring such joy to the Christian journey. Top right, my roommate for the week was a lifelong friend I just met. I was moved into Tiffiny's campus apartment when the fire alarm went off in my original dorm. Several times since we have talked about what a blessing that fire alarm was because it allowed us to get to know each other. And bottom left, I eagerly anticipated spending time with friends I have gotten to know through blogging: Becky of Slipping Through My Fingers (left) and Kristen of Pretty Sweet (right). Becky and Kristen both shared lots of inspiring ideas during CTS that I can't wait to put into practice. They are such sweet girls, and we thought of so many more things we wanted to do together that I guess I will just have to go back for another visit.

Too soon my Tennessee walk ended, but I left CTS with renewed joy for my Christian walk. And a lot of happy memories to last the whole year through.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Doll Dress Giveaway

What could be easier than making a pillowcase dress for an 18-inch doll from a tea towel (see yesterday's tutorial)? The only thing I can guess would be winning one in this week's giveaway. This ecru dress with soft green ribbon ties features delicate embroidery and sweet butterfly trim. To enter, simply leave a comment below. I will announce the winner next week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tea Towel Pillowcase Doll Dress Tutorial

The highlight of our recent mommy-daughter-dolly tea party was spending a leisurely afternoon making doll clothes for our daughters' 18-inch American Girl and Our Generation dolls. The six girls at our party ranged in age from 5 to 10, so I wanted to plan a sewing project that all could enjoy. I have been about to burst to tell you about our pillowcase dresses made from tea towels. This was a wonderful beginner sewing project because the finished edges of the tea towel mean few seams to sew. And decorative embellishments on the tea towels like embroidery, hemstitching and cutwork lace make for lovely doll dresses.

Directions follow for making a tea towel pillowcase doll dress, broken down to help you carry out this project with a special little girl in your life. Use your best judgment to tailor this project to the age, dexterity and level of interest of your little friend. At 7, daughter Mary Ashley and her friend Emma were eager to do as much of this project as possible. But at 5, daughter Emma and her friend Lizzy wanted a little sewing and a lot of playing dolls in another room. The older sisters were so eager to sew that they did most of the work on their younger sisters' doll dresses. That worked out fine, and all four girls left the party excited over their dolls' pretty new dresses. 


Mommy: Gather project supplies, including:
  • Tea towels (larger towels will make a dress; smaller towels can make a blouse, or use two towels to make a dress)
  • Blue fabric pen (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter and mat (optional)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine with thread
  • Ribbon (at least 44 inches for each dress)
  • No-fray solution
Iron tea towels with a crisp fold, using spray starch if desired. If your tea towel has a decorative edge on the front, you can cheat the length a bit to make the front of the dress a little longer than the back. In the photo below, you will see the scalloped edge of the tea towel I used for this tutorial. When I pressed this one, I lined up the bottom edge of the back of the towel with the highest point of the scallop. This keeps the dress from looking too short in the front.


Daughter: Cut the tea towel in half along the fold using scissors or a rotary cutter and mat. If you are nervous to cut along the crease, Mommy can trace the fold with a blue fabric pen, and you can cut on the line.


Mommy: If the crease was cut a little jaggedly, you can correct that at this step. Use the iron to create folds for a 3/4-inch casing for each half of the tea towel, as shown in the photo above. To make the casing, fold the raw edge under about 1/4 inch toward the wrong side of the tea towel. Even up this folded edge as needed, then fold the edge of the tea towel again toward the wrong side to make the casing. Press this fold, turning under the corners at each end. Iron a casing into the second half of the tea towel, using the first half of the tea towel as a guide.


Daughter: Pin the casing for each half of the tea towel.

Mommy & Daughter: Work together to sew a straight seam along the bottom edge of each casing, beginning and ending with a few reinforcing stitches. Depending on the age and skill level of your daughter, you can determine the best way to sew. I can adjust the stitch speed of my sewing machine, so I moved it to the slowest setting before we began. At age 5, Emma felt most comfortable standing beside the machine pushing the foot pedal while I sat at the machine guiding the fabric through. Seven-year-old Mary Ashley preferred to sit in my lap as we guided the fabric through together.


Mommy: Position the front and back pieces of the dress, right sides together. Make sure the front and back bottom edges line up as desired, and secure the front to back with a straight pin. Because both American Girl and Our Generation dolls have broader shoulders than bodies, it is not necessary to cut an arm hole for the dress. Secure the front of the dress to the back with a pin, about 3 inches from the top. Leaving a few inches open at the top will create an arm hole when the casing is gathered.

Daughter: Pin the side seams of the dress, lining up the front and back edges.

Mommy & Daughter: Sew the side seams, sewing as close to the edges as possible.

Daughter: Cut ribbon ties for your doll's dress. Each piece should be at least 22 inches long.


Mommy: Pin the first ribbon tie with a safety pin, and show your daughter how to ease the pin through the casing.

Daughter: Thread the ribbons through the casings. This technique takes a little time to master, but with practice you will get faster and faster.


Mommy: Pull the ribbon evenly through the casing and use a straight pin to mark the center point of the casings for the front and back of the dress. Be careful to catch the ribbon with the straight pin so it will not shift when you gather the casing.


Daughter: Gather the casing on both sides of the center point. The front of the dress should be gathered to a width of about 4 inches (or a little less), and the back should be gathered to about 5 inches (or slightly less).

Mommy & Daughter: Stitch the casing closed on each end to keep the ribbon in place. Trim the ribbon ties at an angle and brush the tips with a no-fray solution.

Mommy: Iron the dress, and give it a final fluff.

Daughter: When Mommy says the ribbons are dry, you can let your favorite doll try on her new dress -- lovingly made by you!

This really is a quick and easy project. In fact, the "prototype" for our afternoon sewing session took me less than 20 minutes to make. Trying to give instructions might make this simple project seem more complicated than it needs to be. If you have any questions or comments about the tutorial, leave me a comment below. I will answer your questions in the comments section or modify my directions as needed.

I'm linking this post with Get Your Craft On at Today's Creative Blog.

Keep scrolling for a few more details of our mommy-daughter-dolly tea sewing time. And stop in tomorrow for a tea towel doll dress giveaway!

Mommy-Daughter-Dolly Tea Sewing Project

It seemed only fitting at our mommy-daughter-dolly tea that we make breezy summer sundresses for the girls' dolls during our afternoon sewing time. For a while I had been wanting to make pillowcase dresses out of tea towels. Above, you can see how sweet Lizzy and Emma's dresses turned out.

After tea in the dining room, we moved into the kitchen to set up our sewing machines for the afternoon. My mother-in-law used to sell linens in the family floor covering business, so weeks before the party I asked if she had any tea towels she could spare for our project. She delivered with a great number of new and gently used tea towels she has collected through the years.

Before the party I strung grosgrain ribbon across the window frame so we could display some of Betty's prettiest tea towels. This would be a pretty window treatment to keep all year long, but we took the tea towels down when it was time to sew so the girls could choose their favorites.

A pink and green sewing basket held more tea towels, along with supplies we needed for our project.

I loved seeing our daughters' hands at work learning to sew! Above, Mary Ashley learns to thread ribbon through a casing. She was a great student and said several times she wants us to sew together every day. (If only I could sew every day myself.)

Here are a few of the girls' favorite dolls, all dressed up in tea towels turned pillowcase dresses.

From first sip to final stitch, this was a tea party we will never forget.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mommy-Daughter-Dolly Activi-tea

A pretty sewing basket filled with flowers and fabric invites tea party guests to sit and sew awhile.

Seven-year-old Mary Ashley has been asking me for months to teach her to sew, and our recent mommy-daughter-dolly tea party seemed the perfect opportunity for our first lesson. My girlfriends Cathy and Stacey also enjoy sewing, so I asked them to bring their sewing machines for an unhurried afternoon of sewing with our daughters.

We enjoyed afternoon tea in the dining room, where each little girl found a decorative hanger at her place -- a little hint of the fun to come. When we had our fill of tea and scones, we moved the party into the kitchen to make clothes for the girls' American Girl and Our Generation 18" dolls.


I am thankful to have captured this precious mother-daughter moment between Stacey and Emma: their first time to sit down together at the sewing machine. I am working on a tutorial for our afternoon sewing project and hope to post that tomorrow. I know you will absolutely love it!

"Take your needle, my child, and work at your pattern; it will come out a rose by and by. Life is like that - one stitch at a time taken patiently and the pattern will come out all right like the embroidery." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

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