February 28, 2011

Cleaning the Studio, on Advice from Singer

The beginning section of my new (used) Athena 2000 Singer Sewing Machine Manual contains this very cheery page on Sewing Room Layout.

I looked at this very sweet picture and Yes, I could certainly see the point.   It would be much more enjoyable to sew when one is not surrounded by stacks of papers, decisions awaiting completion and stuff I just don't know what to do with.   Not just sew, but just about anything would be more pleasant  than the state of my studio.    
So, all projects (or lack thereof) have come to a temporary halt.   I'm dividing it all down .... keep & put away, give away, throw away.   I'm dispensing with the stacks.   Shouldn't take more than two days !

February 27, 2011

A Door Wreath for Lucille

I'm not sure how we got on the conversation, but a couple weeks ago, I asked Beau if his Mother still had that same wreath that I had made her three years ago.  He said yes, and it was quite sad looking.  I told him the next time I was in Hobby Lobby and they had floral on 50% off,  I would pick up the makings and create a new wreath.

Well, made a quick stop at Hobby Lobby yesterday to pick up a bag of plastic pellets.   I promised I'd only be 10 minutes (Beau is not a Hobby Lobby fan and is waiting in the car).   And, of course, floral was on 50% off, so my 10 minutes turned into 20 while I grabbed up wreath makings.

I've been knowing MIL for 20 years now.  I learned that she was two-faced very early in our relationship.  We took her to a Mardi Gras parade and she saw people she knew.   She went over to them, hugged,  kissed and spent a good 30 minutes talking with them.   When she came back, the only comment she had was how fat and ugly one of the ladies was. 

It's been like this through the years.  With the exception of one son, someone in the family was always 'IT'; the one not in favor.   For their designated time,  very ugly things were said about 'IT'. Some might say she is elderly and  but she knew what she was doing as she'd frequently follow up with the standard 'Don't tell anyone I said that'.  

After Katrina, she came to live with us for 4 months while her neighborhood rebuilt / repopulated.  Two years later she fell to great arthretic pain and needed help bathing and dressing, doctors appointments and such; staying with us a couple more months. It was during this time, that we stopped allowing her to talk bad about others.   It was a slow process.  She'd say something ugly about 'IT' and we would disagree with her, reinforcing how much we liked 'IT', etc. etc. etc.    She didn't like this much.

She moved to assisted living in 2009, a great move for her in that it gave her companionship.   She now had a group of ladies who, over lunch and afternoon coffee, could designate their IT's and tear them apart as group activity.   We continued to see her regularly.  We would pick her up every Thursday, take her to the grocery, then bring her to our home for dinner. 

It was here, dinner, that my final stand took place.   We were talking about the items left in her house and she indicated that she didn't care what happened to them; throw them out for all she cared.   I asked her if we could have one of the couches (for our son's apartment) and she said No.   At this moment, I realized We, or perhaps just Me, had been IT for sometime.   By having her over weekly, we continued giving her new material.   We weren't the ones who took her in, cared for her, entertained her, developed faithful routines involving her.  And yet, we were the ones she talked ugly about to the rest of the family and her friends. 

I was deeply hurt.  I told her how I felt.  Beau took her home.   After that, all the routines stopped.   I waited for months for an apology.   And, then, one day, I didn't care anymore that I would be her forever 'IT'.

 (Uh oh, looks like the camera finally bit the dust)

I suppose I volunteered to make the wreath as I am sorry that Beau has to go and visit her weekly alone.  In retrospect, I hope she doesn't think it is a peace offering.   

I hope I don't volunteer to do this again.

February 26, 2011

Yard Sale Saturday, 2/26/2011 Athena 2000 Sewing Machine

It's been quite awhile since I've been out on my yard sale circle. It's been cold, and, frankly, I've just not felt like it.

But today, the sun is up and it's warm. Beau is training for the upcoming Crescent City Classic and was going on a fast walk between the two trailheads. So, I had extra time between dropoff and pickup and decided to check out a couple yard sales versus going home for 30 minutes.

AND, I'm so glad I did. I was recently pondering buying a new sewing machine, but was holding off trying to figure out what I wanted. But, that all changed when I found this beauty this morning.
 She's a Singer Athena 2000 from 1976.   She's about 30 pounds and came in a heavy (heavy vinyl) case with 8 different foot attachments, 4 different plates, a ruffler, extra bobbins, and a small assortment of sewing accessories.    They had the price listed at $150 and I offered $100 with the agreement that I could bring it back (they were in the neighborhood) if it didn't work well.     Needless to say, my next stop (right after picking up Beau, of course), was the bank for the $100.   It even had the original Instruction and Applications booklets, along with the certificate of warranty for 30 years.   Now, the warranty is expired, but imagine when sewing machines came with a 30 year warranty.  

I brought it home, set it up.   I had to read the booklet to figure out how to thread it.   And .... I'm a really happy camper !   It sews beautifully.     There were a couple of receipts for buttons and zippers for 1990, so I'm assuming this has been in storage for a very long time.   On Monday, I'm going to take it over to the Sewing Machine Shop and have it maintainced and lubed just to start out on the right foot.  

I'm not sure, but I think I just committed to do some sewing !

February 23, 2011

Diva Cloth Doll - Hearts & Bows

I selected the next Craft Pattern to experiment with.   It is Diva Cloth Doll Creations - Hearts & Bows .....
This is a simple two piece pattern, the body and the head.   You sew the head to the body and then sew the front and back pieces together leaving a very small 1 1/2" hole at the top to turn inside out, and some weighting crystals, stuff, etc.    There are directions for the pillow looking piece, but nothing mentioned about the piece that appears to be a wall hanging .. like what to attach to her to hang, what the bottom piece is, or how to attach.   I give the instructions a straight C - adequate, but plenty of room for improvement.   

The instructions indicated to put it all together and then adorn.   I thought it might be better to sew on some designs first, but understand now why that is done over the fact ... it simply increased the bulk to fit through the small opening.  

The face is added using sharpies, pencils, or whatever you want.  The hair is made from strips of fabric, which you get damp and wrap around a pencil.  Then, slip off and dry in the microwave.   It's then glued to the head and a bow added.    I don't know how long this would hold the curl with the humidity level. 
I didn't do much adornment as I considered this a first attempt a learning experiment ... which it was.   I cut out two more and I'll practice some more tomorrow.  I'll definitely stay stitch the head opening, double stitch all the seams (she has neck issues; kind of like Frankenstein) and try adding liquid starch to the hair curls.   

So ... Drum Roll Please .... 

I know, I know ... a raving beauty she's not.  

Thanks for dropping by, 


February 15, 2011

Wish Upon a Star Applique Wallhanging and Food Story 1

 I selected Wish Upon A Star Quilt Wallhanging from my inventory as my next 'Adventures in Sewing' project.     It looked a great beginner pr oject.  

The pattern called for tracing the appliques to make the pattern pieces (versus cutting out the paper pattern), but I photocopied instead.   I discovered a short time later that step is not necessary as the fusible web is fairly see-through and you can just lay it over the pattern and trace.   I managed to get everything cut out and the applique in place before lunch.   The picture has rosy cheeks, and there was not such template ib the pattern sheet, so I just cut little circles.
 After a little practice and a few unmentionable words, I finally got the zig-zag function on my inferior machine figured out got the outline stitching done.
I hauled it back to my workbench to read up on putting in the eyes and the rest of the features and OH WOE IS ME ... I can't find the instructions.    I looked all around my room, at this stack and that.   Went through the recycle as well as the garbage, twice.   Checked the bathroom, kitchen, refrigerator, the other bathroom.   Everywhere I'd been and no ... I can't find.  This type of thing drives me to distraction.   I know that I should be able to figure it out from here, but the plan was to follow the directions, learn what needed learned, before I start freelancing. 

So, it's on the back table, awaiting the return of the instructions.   They will probably be there tomorrow.  

I started clearing my workbench when the CD Changer brought a Simon and Garfunkle song.   This got me to thinking ....


I started the 6th grade in El Cajon, Ca, where I quickly learned that the only thing worse than being short and fat, with red hair and freckles, is being all of that while wearing a dress. California girls do not wear the standard dress or skirt to school as did Oregon girls, but instead have fun tops and pants.  Even if we could have afforded these clothes, Mother believed girls belonged in dresses.

Mother and I lived with Penny, her best friend from High School, and her much older daughters, Marcy and Diane.  Fortunately, for me, the apartment was only 2 blocks from my school.  This allowed me, along with a note, to go home for lunch.

I loved being in the apartment alone for that 45 minutes each day.   Typically, I made a bologna sandwich with a side of ice cream.    I'd put an album on the record player.  Growing up, my mother had music; 1000 string instrumental Lawrence Welk kinda stuff.  But Marcy and Diane had lots of other music.   My favorite, at the time, being Simon and Garfunkle.    I'd turn up the volume, much louder than would have been allowed, and I 'd sing.   I knew the words to every song.  I'd sing as loud as the music.  During pauses, I'd have bites of my lunch.    And then, I'd shut it all down, putting the album carefully back into the cover (as I'd never received permission to touch them), and I'd go back to school.

It was one such lunch and I was belting out the 'la la la' chorus of The Boxer, when I realized I wasn't alone.  Marcy had appeared, and without even cracking a smile, turned down the stereo, and disappeared back to her bedroom.   I thought I was going to die.   I thought I was going to get in trouble for playing with the record player.   I thought I wasn't going to be able to come home for lunch anymore.  

That night I waited for the reprimand.   I knew that Marcy would tell her Mother, who would tell my Mother, who would proceed with The Talk.    But, it didn't happen.

Instead, Marcy took up singing The Boxer, slightly under her breath whenever I was around.  And, whenever I came home for lunch,  I checked the rooms before I put on the music. 


Thanks for dropping by,


February 13, 2011

Putting together the Valentine Box for Lilly

Last week, we went into Hobby Lobby to select  a fabric to reupholster the ottoman in our living room.   While there, of course, I had to buy odds and ends of 'other stuff'.   One of which, was this cute little bandana.   I thought I'd put cut out a couple of the 'Love' and applique to a little T-Shirt.     But, once I got started, it turned into this little dress, the base of which is just a little undershirt. 
I'd also picked up a   yard of an adorable kids fabric with snails and butterflies and matched it up with a little blue t-shirt.   I selected pattern  McCalls M4422 for the pants.   (I plan on trying the little dress in a couple days).   The pants are dramatically shorter (and smaller) than those I made the other day, although they are both Size 3.  I used some of the fabric to applique the T-shirt.   Again, I still think it looks a little big, but I haven't seen her since October, so perhaps not.  

I packed up the box yesterday with the three outfits I made, along with some new PJ's, panties and undershirts.  And, of course, a cute cute card and some candies and got it all mailed Priority.    I hope she likes them!. 

Memoir Writing Class

When I was a young, I was going to be a writer when I grew up.  Well, that, along with an astronaut, a famous singer and a heavy equipment crane operator.    As you might guess, none of those dreams came about and instead, I proceeded through life as one of the ordinary.   Certainly nothing wrong with that.

Lately, I've been feeling the need to tell a couple of my stories.   These are basically the stories that I've not been able to say the words out loud, that some family members and friends are waiting to hear.  I've decided it might be best just to write them and get it over with.    But, as I already mentioned, that writing career never happened and I have no idea where to start.

Enter Cathie McFarland.   Cathie is one of the instructors giving classes for the St. Tammany Parish Library.   Her class is called Memoir Writing and it meets the 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Wednesday was our first class and it was light and almost fun.

The first assignment is a Food Theme.  Directly or indirectly.   Two pages.   So, over the next four weeks, you are probably going to hear stories about Food ... directly or indirectly, as I practice.

February 09, 2011

Fabric Quilted Teacups and Saucers

Back in the early 70s, living outside of San Diego, my mother collected demitasse cups and their little matching saucers. Very much like this one, from The Vintage Teacup

Although she preferred the matching pieces, she would buy separates and mix and match to her liking.    She usually found them at Thrift Stores. 

There was a chunky three shelf wall unit where they were placed.   Other than cleaning when the dust began overshadowing the motifs, they were never touched.  There were her 'pretties' and strictly off limit. 

I do not recall the actual year, perhaps '72 or '73,  but there was an earthquake.  Not a monumental shaker, but enough to rattle the walls.   I was reading a book on the couch and watched the painful event -- the shelf fell to the floor. 

Several minutes later, Mom came in wearing her white starched nurses uniform to witness me picking up the broken pieces of glass.    I suggested we could glue some of them, but she said 'No' and put them in the garbage.   The shelf unit was taken apart and stuck in a closet.    Only two cups and one saucer remained, which were moved to her dresser.     To my knowledge, she never collected more.   

I picked up a sewing pattern this morning to list in my shop.   It's called My Cup of Tea by Sew Happy, and incredible enough, it is for fabric teacups and saucers.   Let me say that again; FABRIC TEACUPS and SAUCERS.  
At first I thought it was some type of wall hanging piece, but after looking over the pattern pieces and instructions, it is quite obvious that these are the 'almost' real thing ... fabric replicas of tea cups and saucers.   The actual dimensions are not stated but along the side of a small china teacup and its matching saucer. 

I sat here wondering why anyone would want to create sets of fabric teacups and then, I thought of Mom.   If she'd had these, instead of those little demitasse cups, they would still be in existence !   Although, I don't think the demitasse has anything to worry about. 


February 07, 2011

Vintage 1970s Mens Sewing Patterns; A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Awhile back I picked up a box of Mens Vintage patterns, some from the 1960s, but most from the 1970s.   Being a teen from the 1970s, I'm finding the fashions fun, and some of the models immensely attractive.

This one is fashionably bold with just a hint of arrogance.  Vest, with an optional belt, and pants.

                                                               Vogue 9374 -
This mens caftan is basic, and quite sexy. I like at both lengths and thinks the hood is a great extra touch for use in getting out of the shower.  Shorten it to hip length, add a couple more ties, and you'd have somewhat Jim Morrison tunic.

This is the  very classic Donny Osmond look.  This vest and shirt is what the Mothers wished their sons were wearing.
Simplicity tried to make this appeal across styles.  We've got a bit of the late 60s bad boy and a little bit of hippie plaid.   These jean jackets come back periodically.   I wouldn't be surprised to see a return soon.

Sew Lovely M36C -
 Okay, so it is a timeless fashion.  Titty Whities do not change much, but the model is such fun.   Notice that he has that fine head of hair and mustache, but not another hair on his body.
 Simplicity 5161 -
Cuffed pants are gaining polularity, as is the band and vent on the back of the jacket in this three piece suit.
McCalls 3521
This sports jacket is starting the conversion to the more casual shirt-jacket.  

Simplicity 9435
This is a combo pattern (Mens & Misses) with alot going on.   Lace-up ties, long rounded collar, wide cuffs, puffy long sleeves.   There just a little swashbuckler and a little Robin Hood. 

Simplicity 8255
Low waisted, hip-hugging, bell bottoms.   Need I say more?

More Hip-hugging, bell bottoms pants with a little extra - patch pockets and front button fly.

Simplicity 8823 -
This is a great cargo kinda shirt.  But, what had me going was the man in blue with those shorts.   Why did men's short shorts go away?  And, when are they coming back?

Hope yo enjoyed this short Fashion Show.


February 06, 2011

What about those Coconut Lyrics - Widespread Panic

Do you every get hung up on Song lyrics?   We were leaving the Chinese Restaurant yesterday afternoon, Margaritaville was tuned on the radio since Beau was at the wheel (driver gets to choose the music).   I'd never heard the song playing, but a couple lines of the lyrics jumped out and hit me. 

"I have a friend named Jack,
Looks like he was born in a Paper Sack"

Born in a paper sack?   Just what would one look like if they were born in a paper sack?   I asked Beau, who persumed that would mean they were VERY white in that no light would be exposed in a paper sack.    I didn't question him further.    Like really, is there much light in the womb?  Or, how about our natural inherited pigments.  I found myself thinking about it off and on all afternoon.    Later, when Alex came through, I suggested he ponder on the idea at work and we could talk about it later.   He gave me that 'ya right' look. 

So, several hours later, I did a Google; I thought I'd see what other folks thought it meant.    The first site I pulled up said the line was
"I have a friend named Jack,
Look like a bone in a paper sack". 

U-Turn. Now I'm wondering what one would look like if they were a bone in a paper sack. 

I continued searching Google and I think that 'Jack was born in a paper sack'.  At least that's the way Widespread Panic actually play it. 

So, what do you think you'd look like if you were born in a paper sack.   No response required, however, I must admit I'm interested in what you might think.


February 03, 2011

Applique Cat T-Shirt and Pants

I have several stacks of quilting and craft patterns that I've started going through to list in my shop.  It seems some of these would be a great place to start sewing and have set aside several for consideration.   Then, I picked up this one - Versatile Calico Cats by Yours Truly

This one seemed simple enough.   It's one of those multi-purpose patterns that can be used to create anything cat related from an adorable wall hanging to a doorstop.    At first I was thinking about trying a simple pillow.  BUT, I don't really need a pillow.    Then the thought started, I'll start real simple and make an applique T-shirt for Lilly (for her Valentine box).     I don't quite feel up to sewing a t-shirt (don't I need a serger for that?), so I made a quick trip to K-Mart and picked up a couple packages of Toddler Undershirts. 

Back home, I selected some green Calico Fabric, of which there is about 3 yards.   This excess fabric led me to decide on a pair of bottoms to go with the top.   Having a couple thousand patterns in the house makes this type of decision quite easy.    I decided on Simplicity 8213, primarily because it had the elastic waist (easy), it was the right size and it is already cut.  
Then, here and there over the next four hours, I did it !   I sewed a little pair of pants with a t-shirt that has a matching applique.  

The pants seem huge.   I hemmed them up further than the pattern called (look Ma, I'm already doing alterations!), but I'm afraid they will be huge on her.   But, I'm pleased that I conquered both these simple projects with no major issues.   

Okay, what next ????

February 02, 2011

The Dispensable Sewing Pin

On average, I check around a dozen sewing patterns a day.  This involves removing them from the envelope, checking each piece, the instructions, etc. to make sure it is complete, and then putting it neatly back to the envelope.    To make the job easier,  keep the pertinent tools close at hand ....
  • an iron (makes neatly just a little more obtainable)
  • tape dispenser (for small tears)
  • glue stick (Simplicity is real stingy on the glue)
  • a seam ripper (to remove taped alterations)
  • scissors (remove stitched alterations)
And, last, but not least, the pin container.  A pin container you might ask .... Yep.  Mine is a little white condiment bowl.  

In patterns, I find an amazing number of sewing pins that were obviously used for littler alternations here and there.   And then, when the seamstress is finished, they remain with the pattern; holed up in the envelope.   These pins fall into two categories ... the Perfectly Fine (which go into the little condiment bowl) and the ones that have been in the envelope for a really long time, The Rusted.   The Rusted ones go to the trash container.

In the beginning, I put the pins in my pincushion, which quickly became very full, and I adopted a second pincushion.   Well, I certainly didn't need more, and that was the originating point of the white condiment bowl.  

I've been collecting this particular set of pins for about 2 months. 

Apparently, sewing pins are dispensable.   I found myself wondering it this is due to the low cost factor, or, more of a fact that the seamstress is anxious to move from the cutting to the sewing process and just doesn't want to take the time to remove them.   I know, if I'd get past the thinking about sewing, and start sewing, I might find this out myself. 

So, what do I do with them .... I typically give them away.   The last set went to an unexpecting customer.   She ordered multiple patterns and sent a note saying she was teaching a group of young teens to sew.   Thought she might need some pins, so I included them in the package.   I never did hear anything, so don't know what she thought when she opened her package ... 6 patterns and about 300 sewing pins.

So, in the future, if you happen to need any sewing pins, just send me a note with your order and I'll empty out my bowl.