Sewing For My Sister

I’ve been doing a bit of sewing for my sister. She used to sew for herself (we both did), but as her MS (Multiple Sclerosis) has advanced, she’s no longer able to work her machine. Instead we have fun planning small projects together.

Sharon loves animal prints, specifically leopard and zebra, so we find ways to incorporate those when we can. She also loves purple and black.

I spotted this print (wink, wink) at a local fabric store and I knew Sharon would love it. The fabric is weighty with a nice drape, and blends leopard and cheetah-like spots with a hint of zebra thrown in. The fabric has a thin gold thread running through it to add a bit of sparkle.

leopard chetah zebra print dress

The Dress

My sister is small, but she wears several layers to keep warm, so we opted for a large-sized pattern to cover the bulky layers.  This left too much fabric along the yoke, though it was easily fixed with a row of gathering along the bodice.

She wears the dress over a pair of black sweaters with her knee-high boots. She hates posing for pictures, unless she’s dressed for Halloween, so you’ll have to use your imagination. (She’s adorable)

leopard dress full length

Full length view

The next sewing project involved modifying a vest. Sharon uses a heating pad at work for warmth and back pain, but she had no way of keeping it in place. I came up with the idea of making a pocket (using a scrap of leopard print of course) that would hold the heating pad against her back without shifting. The pad proved too heavy to stay in place, so I modified the idea by adding a strip of velcro along the inside. She can remove and warm the heating pad, then tuck it back into the pocket. The vest keeps it close and cozy.

Next up, modifying a terry robe for the pool. Sharon swims at the YMCA seven days a week. When she gets out of the pool, she moves directly to her motorized scooter. Since she uses the scooter throughout the day, she needs the seat to stay dry. Their was also an issue with pool water possibly draining into the scooter’s battery compartment directly below the seat.

After looking at dozens of robes on-line, I learned that “short” is a standard size but far too long for this purpose. I couldn’t find any pretty terry cloth in town, surmising that it has somehow fallen out of favor. Everything we see is velour. Velour is soft and pretty but it’s not absorbent. I eventually found this gorgeous purple terry robe online, and altered it by cutting off the extra length and over-locking a hem to reduce bulk.

That extra length of terry will make it into a future cat bed.

altered purple terry robe

That’s Tessa in the lower, left corner

purple terry robe

Hemmed and ready to wear

We have one more project in the works. It’s also soft, warm and purple and flew home with me from my visit to Portland earlier this year. My friend, Marlene, took me to an enormous fabric store called Fabric Depot where I bought two yards of this lovely Minky chenille. Marlene even had a generous coupon. I’d never seen this pretty pattern before.

I was thinking “blanket” but Sharon requested a loose-fitting bolero. We found the perfect used pattern on-line, so as time allows I’ll be threading my Bernina with purple thread once again.

It’s been fun sewing for my sister.


48 thoughts on “Sewing For My Sister

  1. Your inventiveness to problem solve is amazing! Please give your dear sister a hug for me. I miss our conversations at scrapbook weekends.


    • Thank you, Mary Elizabeth! It feels good finding solutions for things that make a difference. I will deliver that hug (hopefully she’ll stop by and visit this post, too). We had so many fun weekends away. I miss them, too. xo


  2. I love the animal print! My daughter would wear that everywhere…I think. 😉 The dress is so cute with the gathers at the top.
    MS is such a monster. It affects everyone differently which is why it’s so hard to figure out. But I get the caring for your sister thing. It’s good you can still pick up and do what she can no longer do. It’s so hard when you body fails you and you can no longer do the things that once brought you joy. I have so many quilting and stitching friends whose hands stopped being able. I like how your mind takes on the challenges and works through until you find a solution.

    Layers are often the best way to go for many of us. I’m at 3 this morning. At almost 10 a.m., it’s 56 outside and maybe 60 inside. Next Friday, 86 degrees!

    I’m excited to see what you do with the purple Minky. I was at FD last week and there is very little in the store. Fabric stores are closing everywhere here too. What’s in there has become so expensive, most just walk away. Glad I bought mine while the prices were down. Hugs to you and Sharon.


    • Marlene, your sister is so lucky to have you. You’ve been there for her from the start and you continue to love and support and cherish her.

      I’ve often though it was particularly hard when needle workers could no longer enjoy their craft. Arthritis is brutal along with tremors and other age and illness inducing disabilities. Your weather really has been similar to ours with cool sixties, then miserable eighties and nineties. Last Sunday and Monday were hot, then it came back around again this past weekend as well.

      I’m really sorry to hear that FD is reducing stock along with increasing prices. They’re probably just hanging on by a thread which is a real shame. Hugs back your way from both of us, Marlene. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Such amazing workmanship and ideas! I’m sure your sister loves these. That minky chenille is fabulous; I can’t wait to see what you do with it! I must start sewing again!!


      • I just bought some outdoor fabric so I can make some neck pillows for our adirondack chairs in the back. They’re only plastic so the fabric should dress them up and make them much more comfortable. I think I bought too much fabric though, so I’ll have to come up with another idea for the rest of it. One idea is to do a raised outdoor dog bed for my sister’s pooch.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s so nice seeing Sharon get some super special outfits in the completely correct colours and patterns – being confident with style, pattern and sewing machine is a real gift! And to see your organising ability extending to pattern adjustments and problem solving design issues is quite impressive Alys – I feel like I learn something from you every time you make a post or we have a conversation. ( I just solved a living room space issue by asking myself what would Alys do here? And two days later – voila, the answer popped up 🙂 )


    • Thank you, Pauline! It’s always fun getting a little something new, and I think that extends even further when you can match your style with a fabric. Sharon commented recently that “only the Milner sisters” would think to buy two yards/meters of fabric while on holiday. It’s fun imaging the possibilities and we know each other’s styles so well.

      I would love to hear how you solved your living room space issue. Please share if you can. I love space planning. It’s funny what rocks our boat. Xo


  5. Alys, you and Sharon are ‘sew’ blessed to have one another! You make an amazing team as you brainstorm custom solutions and work your magic with a needle and thread! I love Sharon’s new dress. A touch of gold is just the thing to add sparkle to any day. Your ideas for the vest are pure genius. Sharon’s beautiful new robe will make a real difference as she motors away from the swimming pool each day, wrapped in love! I can tell how much fun you have as you work together in so many creative ways! You, my friend, are a treasure to all who know you! Sending two warm hugs across the miles!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love that creativity. It’s the same thing you do with the garden. Good for you, enjoying time with your sister on projects. That Chenille is paisley, which is an odd pattern for chenille, but looks lovely on it! I thought immediately of a bedspread, but like your idea better. I do miss fabric stores. I’m buying on the internet now when I want fabric. I hope all the garments wear well. I have a heating pad at work (because it’s cold) and i just pin it to the chair at the right level–ove course, mine is electric, so I can’t get up and wear it away…


    • Thank you, Lisa! I really enjoy these projects. You would have loved this fabric store. This particular chenille came in at least 15 colors, each in three patterns. I’ve not seen this paisley print before. I’m so glad I bought it when I did, as Marlene mentioned that the stock is dwindling as the prices go up. I know these retail establishments are struggling to stay afloat. Do you have a favorite internet shop for fabric? My friend Marcia told me about Spoonflower. You can upload your own design, or buy the design of others. I haven’t shopped there yet, but I’ve really enjoyed looking around.

      I’m sorry to hear your office is so cold that you need a heating pad. I’ve worked in places like that. I’m glad you are able to pin your heating pad to your chair.


  7. How wonderful to be able to work with your sister to create such lovely garments and accessories! I am sorry that she struggles with MS. It certainly robs people of much of their independence, but the two of you make a very good team. I really love these prints! 🙂


  8. Nice job on all your projects. I am always impressed with your creative talent. I love t sew but I really don’t have a talent for it. I was thinking of you the other day as I hope my husband will get my craft room finished late this summer or early fall and I was thinking what wonderful things you could help me do with it. 🙂


  9. What a sweetheart you are to sew these lovely treats for your sister. (Is there no end to your talents and mad skillz?!) I’m sure it means the whole world to her … and I’m also sure she looks absolutely radiant in your beautiful creations. You are such a gem, Alys. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • You always manage to plant a smile on my face, HB. Thank you! We have fun planning Halloween costumes most years, something we’ve done since we were girls. It’s nice to sew a few practical things, while keeping an eye toward color and fun prints.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It nice dress thou….. But I think I have some I do love share with you. If you don’t mind. My county is a home of fashion and design.


  11. Oh my goodness, I’m so behind on your fab projects. I feel like I’ve been gardening forever. LOL. You’ve made quick work of Sharon’s wardrobe solutions! What a great idea for the heating pad. I’m sure she loves that. I really admire Sharon to be so independant and continue to enjoy what she can, like swimming. It has to be a bit of a depressing thing for each day to be such a physical challenge, but I’d never know it by Sharons attitude. She’s amazing. So are you and your trusty Bernina! Love the pattern on your purple find from Portland. What’s a Bolero? LOL xo K


  12. It’s very special that you and your sister can come together, design an outfit, and you can finish it up for her. I can only imagine how much she appreciates your help. We have a niece who has struggled with MS for many years so I understand how it progresses and how it impacts an individual.


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