Friday, November 27, 2020

Happy BlackFriday

This cracks me up because I use to roll a med cart around with facial expressions on it, and a magnet to frame the chosen emotion. Just throw everything we know out with 2020 though.

 I’ve never been a competitive Black Friday shopper, in fact at age 60 I have NEVER stepped into a brick and mortar store during Black Friday! I salute those who are good at it, and I have come to enjoy my internet Black Friday deals. Tonight I’m not having much luck at it so far, though I did get a couple nice deals.

I’ve been sewing pretty close to daily for the past few months, though often it may only be for 20 minutes or so. I don’t get a lot done in 20 minutes!

I’ve completed a series of wadders. The shorts in the top photo were really pleasing me, in a fabric certainly out of my norm and lovingly assembled with French seams, no raw edges for that ravely fabric. When they were completed I could get them up but they were absolutely too small. A daughter got them. So I found a similar fabric (a challis maybe?) and made pants for home. One wash and it was obvious you would have to iron every time, and I will not. I’m not even sure where they went.

There was a seriously confused attempt x2 to bring my bra size to new and current reality, and this photo should be an indication of how that went. I did get much closer (in a size 6.0 not 4.75!). I hope the next one is that fabulous fit I pulled off last year.  

I took a break with some mindless and sizeless basket making. I’ve been practicing with dedication my quilting technique, because that finished top needs quilting. I don’t want it to show a timeline of improvement in skills, at least not a marked one, on the quilt.

This crazy year is almost over.  I celebrated our election results, but I’m not so optimistic about the direction of the pandemic. Hunkering down over here.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Brindille and Twig for a baby and more

Set one done. This is for a grandchild turning one soon, not the new born. I had five kids, now that they are all in their 30s I’m LOUSY with grandkids! I bought this fabric for this particular kid about 9 months ago, and she isn’t such a tiny potato anymore.  I believe she can still carry it off. I used two Brindle and Twig patterns, and this cute potato french terry

The ringer tee is free (my favorite kind!) and comes 0 months to 6T. It is a well drawn pattern, with simple clear instructions. It also has views for short or long sleeves.

I serged the neckband on and should have stuck with that as it turned out pretty well. I serged the wrists and waistband, but stitched the seam allowances down after. I think they would have looked better without.

The pants are Brindille and Twig’s mini modern jogger. The PDF cost about $8.00 and covers sizes 0 through 6T. There are knee patches that I left off, the option for cuff or no cuff. The front pockets are honest to goodness pockets with bags, there is a patch pocket on the back, and an elastic waistband. I added the drawstring through button holes.

I know lots of people like Elmer glue sticks for basting, but I’m more partial to the original school glue formula. It doesn’t dry out in the container as fast,  but a thin layer, especially if pressed with a warm iron, will securely form and hold a patch pocket in correct placement for sewing. 

They were happily received and the fit is pretty good.

After those I wanted to knock out some sleep shorts real quick. I found a fabric in the stash that was a (one way? Two way? Side to side?) poly stretch that I was unlikely to ever want to put over the trunk of my body, although until this year it never would have occurred to me to put that floral across my back side either. The print really grew on me during construction. The fabric itself, not so much.

There was more of THIS. I had to take the foot off and really wrestle my fabric out of this jam. I can’t recall why it got down there, since this looks like it was the middle of the darn seam. I know we had at least 6 or 7 fights like this.

I used some fold over elastic to finish the edges and stabilize the pocket openings, that worked well. My top stitching was a little wobbly, so I went over in a pseudo flatlock. With a press it was passable. Once they were all done though, the waist was too high, the leg hems too long, and the silhouette looks amazingly like an illustration of one of the wealthy old men from a Charles Dickens’ novel.  I’ll sleep in them but I’m not photographing them. And I’ve started a walking program. It hurts, and it’s so eleventh hour in my health requirements.

The new machine has had me sewing an hour on busy days and maybe a few if I had time to spare. I’ve been doing a lot of quilting practice, to get the disuse kinks out and get used to the specifics of this sometimes temperamental beast. I needed it badly as I have done some butt ugly stitching. It’s starting to smooth out some. Quilting takes skill, but it also takes tapping into that creative zone place, your personal ooooooooooohm, the serendipity and one with it all thing. I may not ever have the cute and the dainty that I have admired on some quilts, or the classic and disciplined. I think I will get to powerful and beautiful though, in my own way. When I was sick of ugly quilt sandwiches, like this one, done to death and change thread done some more!- And, look! I put a Clarity clear ruler foot on it, from Accents in Design, and fuck you Janome if you don’t like me going off your brand. But yes, when I was sick of this-

 I gathered the dusty bits and pieces I’ve worked and neglected in spurts and trickles for three darn years now, and FINISHED the queen size quilt top for a special person in my life. 

This does not encompass all of it, and after I shot this I had to remove two blocks with pink corners. I learned about too much pink with this quilt. It’s now ready for pressing, sandwiching with batting and backing, and finally quilting. I’m so excited!

I hope to keep both garments and quilts rolling at the same time for a while.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Been doing some sewing...

Well of course I was making those ties for something. I remember when I wouldn’t wear anything with an elastic waist, now it’s my staple. So, I needed some cool and easy summer clothes that were not shorts.  This is a Lawley skirt, a (nother?!) free pattern from Elbe textiles. I didn’t think it was too terribly old, but I didn’t see it offered anymore when I just made the link. It’s a shame because it’s a pretty nice skirt, especially in a nice rayon/linen blend. It came in sizes A through M, which was from pretty darn small to pretty darn big. Still, before cutting out I read finished garment sizes and decided to add a few by decreasing the indent of the waist. This was pretty unnecessary. The instructions had you gather BEFORE attaching the elasticized waistband, why? I just drew up the skirt and waistband after sewing together. I added a couple inches to make the pockets deeper, and I was a couple inches short on the hem with my fabric.

I got to practice buttonholes on the M7 for the first time. Not tremendously impressed. It does require a stabilizer, I reinforced with a patch of self fabric. I put a slip of paper on top of the feed dogs before the fabric to get a clean buttonhole. Serviceable, but probably not quite as nice as the vintage singer buttonholer. When I make some to show, I’ll probably fire up the 201-2 and the ancient buttonholer she uses.

Thank God for the serger. I french seamed the side seams, but that waistband was a fraying mess!

I top stitched the French hems, the bottom hem, everywhere I could figure out a place to put down some stitching. I was finding it soothing.

I needed a body skimming appropriate top to wear with this, and found yet another freebie (I swear I DO have half a bazillion dollars worth of paid patterns!), Ellie and Mac curved hem pocket t tank. It comes xxsmall to 5x. I made 5x because that’s where I am now, freaking out about it and nearly naked. So, I made this top. I made no changes to the bust, shoulders, arm scythe, or length. Love when I can do that without a funny looking result.

I had to use paper to prevent the machine from eating this tissue thin jersey knit, but after getting it started there weren’t more issues. Until we got to the pocket. All kinds of fuss kicked up over a little detail that I believe is kind of passé any way. But I got my heels dug in over the principal of the thing and had to get it on the damn shirt. I wished for hem tape, but I had Elmers school glue. I got it on.

The arm and neck bindings didn’t cause me much stress. The busy print helped. I used a zig zag because stitching disappears from 3 feet, if this were a solid I probably would have twin needled.

I got a bonus garment from the daisies. I can’t remember where this came from, or how cheap it was, but I think it was a deal. I’ve been making this no-brainer summer nightgown since 1976 or so. Sew two square panels together, leaving 3 or 4 inches open on the top end of both seams for arms. Finish the arm openings in a hem, turn over the two long sides to make a casing for the top and hem the bottom. Because the fabric is so thin, there is no drag and barely any weight to this swingy stretchy easy on off summer garment. I spend a lot of time nearly naked at my house and I’ve really needed this in my life for when some daytime person knocks on the door for something. Or family shows up when I’m sleeping.


The straps have been stretching so I have been shortening them. Otherwise, the gown sinks lower and lower.... It has the most perfect shirttail hem from all the gathering in the middle of the front and back. Don’t remember that from previous incarnations.

My third and first really awful covid haircut, and a rainbow. Despite loosing those inches for the hem I think it’s long enough on my 5’11” frame even after turning up 1 1/2”. Deep pockets keep stuff in the pockets.

I would never wear it tucked in, but I hear you are supposed to show it?

Like wise the back view. I’ve got a waist? Must be just in the back. I’ve never seen an indent like that on me anytime. I’d give it up quickly to loose a hundred pounds. I’m going to have to do it, I’m garnering strength like I did for quitting smoking. That took a couple years to do, as I recall. I got there though. I have never been more than a few pounds over until I hit 50, started working nights, stopped my active lifestyle and went on crutches for a year as I sailed into menopause. Haha, and quit smoking, hahaha. Maybe I could quit eating and just consume vodka, those ladies are usually slimmer. No! I’m going to start walking and yoga on a regular basis. I have a mat at both client’s houses, my truck, and a couple at my house. I need to commit. Sigh. 
I’m sewing another pair of self drafted panties from Beverly Johnson’s craftsy class, and I made a boob ham from Porcelynne’s free pattern. For pressing bra cup seams. Then I’ve got some baby stuff planned.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Folded paper strips for straps or binding

The brief explanation:
1. Fold a piece of card the width of your strip in half. Open and fold edges in to the middle. Open again.
2. Lay your strip on folded card and fold up into double folded strip of either bias or straight of grain.
3. Pull it through to press or directly to machine needle for sewing.

I’ve  spent the last hour or so hunting for a link to where I learned this technique this spring, but I can’t find it. Somebody somewhere called it a jig or something, seems that it is used in industrial sewing sometimes. In any case, I learned it in my mask/scrub cap making frenzy this year and it’s HANDY and I want to pass it on.

I imagine I’ve made several miles of folded strips, either bias or straight of grain, for binding or straps or some purpose through the years. I have used the metal  bias binding gadgets, I’ve used the old singer attachments you screw down on your machine to send it under the needle, and I’ve spent too much time folding and pressing and trying not to burn my fingers. Bag all that! Well, I might use 1 or 2 again but I hope not 3. THIS method is great because you can make it whatever size you want and you can make a new one and not have to hunt for where you put that sucker. Works great.

Doing this quick and dirty tutorial from my home health job not my house, with stuff I had already recorded for a possible upcoming post. So, meh on the quality of photos but I think the technique is easy enough to grasp.

I like card stock, flimsy cardboard, I used an index card. Cut out a piece 1 1/2” to 2” long by approx the width of your fabric. Fold the width of card in half , open it. Then fold the sides in to that inside fold. You will have 3 folds; the middle and two sides.

Then you can insert your fabric strip, and use the paper folds to manipulate the fabric into a double folded strip.

Send the folded fabric under the presser foot and sew if you are making straps.  Cord or elastic could be inserted along the middle fold if you desired. I imagine you might be able to guide one thickness of fabric enclosed in the fold (like the red fabric bordered by yellow behind the sewing machine) but probably not a quilt. Of course you could pull it through to an iron instead of sewing without a press, but if you can skip that finger risking process, why not?. This is a rayon/linen blend cut on straight grain. 100% cotton was much easier to slide through and sew. The linen blend wanted to flatten out very close to exiting the tube. Still, not much hassle at all.

I was so pleased to find the folded paper trick. I hope it can help someone else out.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Lots of sewing

Since starting to sew bras, I’ve been motivated to sew more frequently. Then of course pandemic sewing hit me with a vengeance. I was giving up sleep to get scrub caps and masks done. I was looking at dream machines and prices in early June. “Too much,” I thought. I sent an email to a semi local dealer (my closest dealer is about 65 miles away). The machine I was eyeing (MOST harp space! FASTEST stitch speed!  BIGGEST DC brushless motor in a domestic, resulting in strongest needle punch strength! Blah, blah, blah!) was listing at $8,000. And I told her I’d buy it with all the listed accessories for $6,000. I never dreamed they would even reply, but she told me if I would buy in the next week, I could have it for $5,000.  I am a working woman who raised 5 kids without any support from anywhere or anyone, and I’m still recovering and don’t have money like that, but what was I supposed to do? I was unlikely to run into a deal that good ever again, and I just had my 60th birthday (can we say present folks?). If I was going to put that complex of a machine through it’s paces and get some good mileage, time is ticking. So I got a loan and bought it.

It’s a damn ocean liner. Here it is perched atop the cabinet for my singer 403A, where I formerly kept my kenmore and my serger side by side. I can (and do) take off the extension table, which gives it more room and a less ridiculous appearance. I did quilt a quilt (TOLD you I’ve been sewing!) with it on, and that was nice, but not as nice as having a machine dropped flat into a table. That’s a possibility down the road, but would require some contemplation and then machine eviction. I picked it up just a few days after George Floyd’s murder. Days later, the black lives and black makers matter movements were blowing up and I thought I might have to send it back.  Janome was dragging feet about offering support. Thankfully, it looks like they are trying to reach out to show some inclusiveness though they’ve got a long way to go.

So, thoughts on the machine. It is well engineered. I would expect so, and it is. It’s quiet, smooth, and fast, and so far amazingly not finicky. I had to slip some knit fabric in for a quick job and did not change the needle, it sailed through it. So, I applied elastic to a sports bra that I had been wearing without the bottom band done, and wow, not a skipped stitch in the knit or elastic with a Janome purple needle, their recommended for free motion quilting and heavier fabrics. I don't particularly love having to scroll through screens to do some things, for instance, the zipper choices. I can just adjust my basic straight and zig zag to do most things, like put in a zipper. However, I’m a little bit appreciative that the zipper application knows just where needle clearance around the zipper foot is. I got tired of the company bragging about the ease of popping in and out the needle plates, but there are three of them for use with different feet, and if they weren’t so easy to switch I might be inclined to do it less. The bobbin winder on first try did this:

I of course had already joined the Facebook group for M7 owners and they were all there to tell me it happens, and that disc takes some coercion but is removable, making the thread easy to remove. Whew. Has not reoccurred. I don’t like that they try to force me to buy Janome needles. I hear rumors that they are just different enough to cause the automatic needle threader not to work. Also, only Janome feet are stressed, I was told using a different ruler foot would void my warranty. I would very much prefer the clear view ruler foot and do wonder, how would Janome know. I’m not big on buying things for my things, and I really revolt on needing to buy specific brands of things. Last note, I found a supreme slider unnecessary on my vintage Singer 201, but there was serious drag with the surface of the ship. I put my old slider on and it helped but was of course too small.  So I bought a bigger one from sew steady that looks like a cutting mat as well as some Sullivan’s 946 silicone spray. Haven’t used them yet.

So, sewing! I’ve managed to get some bras, panties, and even a pair of swim shorts done, all without photos. The shorts are of supplex, probably not the best choice as I understand it doesn’t dry very fast. The comfort level is incredible though, I could walk, sit, bend, stretch, get up and down from sand, swim, get beat in surf and probably never need to tug them back into place once. I’d go so far as to say, having this style and this fabric available for my fat ass almost makes living in such a crazy time....nah. Not even. But, I love the shorts and I’ll do some in swim fabric hopefully soon. Then a grand baby was born a month early, and I had to hop into baby sewing because I should have already been doing it!

The pattern is The Storytime Quilt from made by Rae and is free. I had the charm squares in the stash, but not enough stash fabric for contrast and backing. I bought this tomato solid from a local quilt shop via internet photo and probably would have chosen something else had I been able to see the fabrics in person. I did have the fabric for the binding on hand and feel like it made a significant positive impact on the color scheme. I was about 6 charms short, can you spot them? I did free motion, rulers, in the ditch with Janome bragged about accuflex foot (a glorified walking foot), AND used some of the pretty decorative stitches you never get to use unless a grand baby shows up. I am not in love with this quilt, but I was thrilled with the turn around time. This grand is using cloth diapers so next I moved to diaper inserts with Zorb inside. I thought that would be quick and easy, WRONG!  Pre soaking was recommended to increase absorbency, so I washed and they twisted and bunched. Quilted them down and between the thread and the sackcloth covers, they seemed way too scratchy to put next to an infants butt. I added a flannel final cover, which my serger had trouble chewing all the way through. Washed those and changed the blade on the serger. FINALLY those were ready.

When I thought I was getting done the first time, hahaha.

Finally, I had not intended making an outfit to coordinate with the quilt. I’ve had that lovely octopi fabric for a couple years. This child is living one block from the ocean in Portland Maine and it seemed right. The pattern, Criss Cross Pinafore and Bloomers by Melly at Blank Slate Patterns is reversible and free if you subscribe to her newsletter. I didn’t make the bloomers because I think this child’s momma is having too much fun with her diapers and covers. I did add a wonderful and again, free! pattern for a reversible baby bonnet from Purlsoho. I’ve made several of these and just love them. Although my adult kids make snide comments about Amish and prairie bonnets, if you see how well they protect the head and eyes against sun and wind the function of these beauties can’t be beat.

The homemade piping and bonnet ties are made from the orange red contrast fabric of the quilt.  How nice of Janome to give me a new seamripper. Like they knew I would use it.

Now, maybe it’s time to sew for ME again! Though I’ve got more grands to sew for still.

Monday, June 1, 2020

In a time of pandemic and racial intolerance

Me and mine, circ 1992 or so...

The pandemic is winding down where I live. Racial is not to be tolerated. Of course it’s not new. Just about the time white people’s boots hit the ground in the new America’s we started trying to get the upper hand on the “natives”, and very quickly imported dark skinned people in chains to do the labor. We used everything the Chinese would give us on our rail roads, we locked up all the Japanese in WWII. After emancipation we never let things get better for black folks, we tore down successful communities, we wouldn’t allow flourishing. We stole from them, flooded their communities with drugs, locked up their men. Stole their freaking cells from them, thank you Henrietta Lacks!

I don’t know why we bothered to start teaching our kids about racial equality if we were still going to perpetuate all the shady shit in the dark. 1970 I was 10 and Ray Stevens was singing everything is beautiful and my next door neighbor and constant companion was a little black girl named Harriet. Her sister spray painted “I’m black and I’m proud” on the underside of the slide on the playground at our housing area on Reese AFB TX, but when I asked Harriet about the rest of the song she whispered, it’s secret.  I knew a little bit about Martin Luther King, I knew there were riots about race, but by 1970 I was pretty sure racial injustice had been wiped out. Through the rest of my Air Force brat childhood I was aware that the military mandated racial tolerance and equality be practiced by our fathers and by us, and we were a little ahead (maybe in the Deep South, WAY ahead; Panama City Florida I’m looking at YOU)! I joined the army and spent 8 more years in that artificial environment. I might have been aware there were racist in the ranks, but they were very quiet about it, especially after I married a black soldier. I thought racism, for the main part, was over. There were LAWS about it EEO and fair housing, school integration. I’m not the only white person, privileged white person, to suffer with that delusion. Why did we as a society decide to hide it, when in reality it was still a daily thing for so many people of color?

I heard a bunch  of times, if you marry that black man and have children, they won’t be accepted by any race. Well, that was silly. They were accepted by my white family, and pretty much by all black people. There were some alarm bells about white people through the growing years. I took two preschoolers with me house hunting when I was about to get my RN and was ready to get out of the projects. That realtor showed me substandard house after substandard house, exposed electric, no central heat crap! I got a babysitter and a different realtor, talk about white privilege fix!!  My first grade daughter had school work with red pen bleeding over the papers and then about 8 weeks in, a note from teacher recommending her for special ed. I marched in there fresh from my nursing course on childhood development and quizzed teach on Steph's milestones and spouted names and theories on childhood development. She is getting great grades in her third year of college now at Delaware State University, a historically black college and university (HBCU). My middle school son was arrested in school for scratching his friend’s neck sitting in the chair in front of him with a paper clip, not even drawing blood, just dumb distraction. The shame faced principal told me the kid’s father insisted on it, so they had to blah blah blah. I wonder why it was ever enough of an issue that the kid’s father was notified, how much discussion happened before my son’s parent was called.  Another son arrested with pot in the middle school, they called me and told me to come on down because they were probably going to charge him with trafficking and expel him and those were felony charges. I walked in and the school’s assigned officer had worked with me at the prison, and he said, ohhhhhhh, he’s yours??? And it all went away. Privilege. Mine, not his. Not theirs. Now they are grown, and I can’t walk in and save them anymore. From being black.

Even with my own experiences, and there are many more and the stories got worse once they were adults, the full reality of it didn’t really hit until Trump took office. He disgusted us with his permission and at times blatant encouragement of intolerance and even violence for minorities, and all those people came out like cockroaches when it’s quiet with the lights off, except now they were happy to do it with the lights on. It wasn’t all trump’s fault, the hate, the violence, and the acceptance of it was always there. My black family knew it, I knew of some of it, but unless you are blinded by a whopping dose of degenerative hate, pretty much everyone in the US has to see it now. They were protesting for Mr Floyd in London, Paris, and BELGIUM this week! I am sick for this country. 

I do a lot of white people education, and try to be civil in hopes they can hear me better. Sometimes I’m an asshole, hoping to get deeper under their skin and make a longer impression (a therapist once advised me to act as if! to change my beliefs, I’ll make some people act AS IF). I don’t have lots of dollars to contribute, but I have and will continue to put some where it can help especially black families. I don’t know what else I can do, except I was a prison nurse and an advocate that way for 12 years, maybe I could volunteer for men either in or coming out of the system. White people, we’ve all got to do more.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Black Lives Matter

My heart is sore for our nation, with the hundreds of years of pain and fear because of race.