Thursday, September 29, 2011


     Growing up, my grandmother taught Spanish and history at a local high school and college. As a part of this, every summer she took a group of students on a trip to Spain and other surrounding countries. And, every summer, when we took her to the airport to leave for her extended trip (I don't remember exactly how long, but to my little-girl-heart, it seemed like months,) I would feel like my heart was going to break because I wouldn't see my beloved grandma for what seemed like forever!
     Thankfully, the sadness at seeing her depart was quickly forgotten as the activities of a child's Alaskan summer adventures began. (A story for another day!) Then the day would come when my mother announced, "Tomorrow, we pick-up Grandma at the airport." Sometimes she would give us a few days' notice, but it was always filled with overwhelming excitement that she was returning to us. I knew that shortly, there would be a sleepover, usually of many days, with my favorite cousin, Monica, where we would get to dress up in all of the beautiful chiffon or silk nighties my grandma no longer used. And we would get to play with her Besinji, Mandy, who had puppies one summer. Of course, we knew that she would have amazing gifts for us from foreign lands and that didn't squash the excitement any, either!

     My grandmother has travelled the world! Her stories of her adventures are captivating. There's one about an adventure in Italy, an art lesson with her tour group, Italian men on a mountain road, a secret niche, and a tape measure... I laughed for days after she shared that one! As a child she filled my imagination full of magical places and charming, warm foreign peoples. As I got older she included me and my sister in her wanderings across the United States. Sometimes, as a teenager, the day-long visits with her family, old friends or to flea markets were intolerable, but I look back now and long for the opportunity to spend so much time with her before she heads home to Heaven. It is with longing that I wish I had made more of my opportunities and lived a little bit more with her freedom; she encapsulates the idea of carpe diem: seize the day!

     Through her travels, she taught me about beauty: places, people, things, ideas. Upon her return we would be treated to a treasury of things she had brought back with her; some were for us then, some will be for us when she leaves. She has 3' tall vases intricately carved from ivory - purchased from before this practice was illegal. She brought back Spanish flamenca dolls bedecked in gowns festooned with delicate lace. She taught us the beauty of Lladro sculptures, still a favorite today, though out of my budget for now. She would bring back candies and food-stuffs; some were eagerly gobbled up by myself and my 3 siblings; at others, we just crinkled our noses and stuck out our tongues in disgust! She brought my sister and I hand thread-crocheted pinafore dresses from the Philippines; and the most gorgeous white socks from Germany. But one of my enduring favorites is the navy blue plaid kilt-like skirt she brought me the summer before 6th grade.

     The skirt was the softest wool I have ever felt. The plaid was navy blue with tiny plaid-stripes of red, black, hunter green and goldenrod. It fastened to the side, over my left hip, with black leather pieces and hearty silver buckles. It went just below my knees and made me feel very grown-up  and refined when I wore it. OH! and it was pleated all the way around with a drop waist pleat, little ones, less than an inch each. This skirt was so lovely!

     And this brings me to the title of today's blog:  "Itty-Bitty-Teeny-Tiny Pleats."  I love the way they look! However, I am AWFUL at making them! They're just so...  fussy. I have many patterns for dolls that use them that I really want to make - especially since my daughters have made it clear they won't be caught dead in a pleated... anything. Yet, when I look at those pretty little confections and think about the precision required to make those pretty little pleats, well, I groan. The other day, quite by accident, I stumbled upon a device called, "The Perfect Pleater" Intrigued, I took a look and it appears to be the answer to my pleating issues! And then I saw the price: Forty Bucks!  Plus shipping! Yikes! I'm cheap, I appreciate - well, more like, revel in a good deal. The price definitely made me put on my frowny face! And the idea of owning the item went straight to the, "one day" file in my brain. I moved on... NEXT!

     Have I ever told you how enamoured I am with the Internet? It blows my mind the sheer quantity of creative inspiration and ideas you can find! And once again, it hasn't let me down! You see, I couldn't really give up on the idea of that fancy pleating board, so I did a search, looking for a better price; and then I found a tutorial for making one of these little darlings all on your own! I'm sure you can just imagine my delight!!! So, now I have a plan: I'm going to attempt to make my own! Understand, now, that it still has all of the measuring and fussing as making a garment; hopefully, though, I will only need to do it once more - at least for the dolly wardrobes. YAY! YAY! YAY! Oh, but wait... I'm still going to need a whole lot of patience because I really only do want to have to do this ONCE more!

aybe this time I will be good about taking, editing and posting photos for a tutorial of sorts. Maybe... At any rate, I will post some kind of photos on my "en l'atelier" page... soon. And speaking of pages, I finally figured out how to add them to my blog, here! I'm so excited! AND, I'm in the process of figuring out how to sell things from this blog. So, maybe not today, but in a week or so, come back and check out the new pages:  en l'atelier (in the studio,) free gsd files (for digital cutters,) boutique (items for sale,) and tutorials.  I will be adding more pages once I get these categories under control:  one for my original fashion doll clothing patterns, volunteer spot, and seasonal projects are on my mind currently. If you have any other ideas, please let me know.

     So, here's to Deuteronomy 33:11 - "O, Lord, bless the work of my hands."!

In His love,

****** For those of you who would like to attempt a pleating board, the link will be up in the Tutorials page!

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