Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sewing Room Stew

I have been living in my apartment for 5 months now and I'm still surrounded by boxes.  Ugh!  My children and I moved to a new place, town, city,...and I'm still without quite a bit of furniture.  When I was in Chicago, it was easy to find furniture (anything) on Craigslist for free or next to nothing, but here, not so.  The pickings are slim to begin with and they seem to cost an arm and a leg, as well.  So, I'm struggling to have a place to put things, ergo box castles surround me.

Anyway, to the sewing room we go....I have been thinking on how I'm going to set up my sewing room without much furniture/storage and I'm having a hard time with it.  I have one sewing machine in a table, two small bookshelves which I purchased at Walmart for $18 each, that my 13 yr. old son put together with just a tad bit of help from his dear ole' mum who is so proud of him; he seems to be really good at that kind of stuff... that I'm using as a base for a whiteboard tabletop.   I also have a wooden table with another whiteboard tabletop on it that I'm using as a desk.  But, I don't have all the shelves and storage I had in IL and I have no idea how to arrange it all so it flows well - you know, Feng Shui - not to mention the importance of not bumping into and tripping over things while working in the wee hours of the morning.  Did I mention that at this point in time this room will also serve as the center of my homeschool work and production and also my personal business office?  Mainly because it also houses my laptop and printer, file cabinet, mailing supplies, writing and craft supplies, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! (Yul Brynner was just in my head reciting that last part while he waltzed around my living room in grand, sweeping steps, and donned in red silk adorned with gold trim.)...I digress.

...minor rabbit trail, but...we're good.  Slides glasses back down onto nose, fingers rest on home keys ready to strike. Quietness envelopes me.  Three minutes tick by, sticking out their tongues at me as they pass.  I feel like Tootles from the movie "Hook" when he exclaimed, "I lost my marbles!"  Except that it's my train of thought that has gone missing.  I hear it, faintly, off in the distance, taunting me- chhgha chhgha choochoo.  Whoo whoo!  It may as well be smugly calling out to me, "MARCO...?...",  *sigh*  --sudden interupption-- "Mom. Mom!"  eye contact is made but my thoughts are lagging behind  "Mom? What's for dinner?" "Son, didn't you just eat...head turning toward, um...(sheepishly) 6 hours ago?" His eyes widen as his arms lift and fall emphatically at his sides, "Exactly!"  I smile and start to push myself away from my desk.  Walking toward his bedroom he declares, "Oh, and we're out of toilet paper."  must...take...break.


Saturday, October 12, 2013


My 4 youngest children and I have recently relocated to Texas, where two of my older daughters currently reside and where one of them is attending University working on her Masters degree. It was a long road getting here, not just the drive down here (which took about 27 hrs.) but everything that has happened within the last year or more bringing me (us) to this "place" where we have sold, given away, and packed up all of what we now own into a 12ft. trailer and hauled it South to this new location, and new way of living. So many changes, so many choices ahead of us, so many lives affected, so many thoughts swirling around in my many different emotions being experienced at one time.

 I am more than half a century old and I feel I have nothing, yet everything. Nothing, because many years have gone by and most of what was cultivated, expressed, created, and gained during these last decades seems to be now gone - including people;  parents, siblings, friends, partner, pets, belongings...not to mention our home of over 25yrs.,  And yet everything because I am almost starting all over again; currently not being stuck in a 30yr old rut, the possibilities ahead of me are varied and many. 

I'm sad and relieved, excited and nervous, adventurous and timid, wanting and at peace - needless to say, quite conflicted, yet not.  How is this possible?

The beat goes on...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Big Needle Controversy - Solved!

How often should I change my sewing machine needle?
Over the years, I have heard and read this question asked and answered a hundred times, and most times it's a different answer depending on preference.  I have never been completely satisfied with the answer or my own personal choice on this.  But today...Eureka!  Look no further except to watch this video presentation by Bob Purcell, "Chief Threadologist of Superior Threads"; he will tell you everything you ever wanted to know and more about needles!

There are several other very interesting and informative videos that you may want to view, if you're a sewer that's soh-er not soo-er ;), and they can be found on YouTube on the Superior Threads channel.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Baby Guinea Pigs

We were surprised when one of our guinea pigs got pregnant early this year.  Surprised because we've been keeping our males and females separate.  But, apparently, one time when my sons took them out for some exercise in their room, they put them all together in a make-shift pen made with old vhs tapes standing on their sides.  Ooops!
Here's our guineas:                                            
  Our 2 oys                                       
Max (above) and Chowder (below)

The Girls
Calico, Crunch, and Snickers
(Snickers had the pups)

The babies, or puppies, or cavies, didn't really look like the typical animal newborns we were used to.  They had all their furry hair and it was dry (by the time we were able to see them) and their eyes were open and they were scooting around.  They even started feeding on some greens within the first few weeks!

Well, they're weened now and about 6wks. old 

We need to find homes for them, which makes my whole animal-loving family a bit sad.  But, they'll be much bigger before we know it and we already have 5 other guineas along with a cat and dog.  If we were already living in the country on our land, we'd certainly be keeping them.  But, unfortunately here in the city we don't have room to accommodate them and I don't think we'll be moving soon enough.

Here are a few more guinea pics just for fun.
These 2 piggies were actually cuddling up against my daughter's dog's tummy, she's curved around behind them.

This is my youngest son with his guinea whom he loves, Chowder.

Get ready for your close-up!

CUT!  Print!  It's a wrap!
Okay, people, get the clean-up crew in here and sweep up all these little piggie pellets.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Finds at GoodWill

I was happy to find two things I've been "needing" for awhile but just did not want to put the money out to get.  And today, I found both at GoodWill!  Yippie Skippy!  I love when that happens.  :)

They are both vintage, which made them even more special since I love vintage things.  They give off that comforting feeling to me.  Maybe because I'm  vintage, having lived on this earth for a little over half a century now, and also because all things vintage remind me of my childhood, which realistically was full of a lot of pain, but it also had some good moments.  Those are the moments on which I like to focus these days.

My first find was a Weaver's Pres-Kloth tailor's ham made who-knows-when-exactly, but apparently, it was ages ago.  It's hard as a rock!  A lot harder than I had expected, having never owned one.  I bought it for 99¢.
 Here we have a World's Best sleeve board.  
This cost me $2.99.
They both look a lot cleaner in these photos than they actually are.  I can take the covers off the sleeve board and wash those, but I'm not sure yet how I'm going to wash the big fat ham up there.  And since my old rickety ironing board just recently fell apart like a cheap suit, I can use the wide part of the sleeve board for ironing small projects.  I've been using a folded towel on top of my sewing machine table, which has been slightly inconvenient but doable in a pinch.  My sewing room isn't very big so I prefer something small while I'm sewing anyway.  This little sleeve board will be perfect!

$3.98 plus tax = Fun Friday Finds Finer than Frog's Hair!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Few Things Sewn Recently

These are just a few things I've been working on in the last week or so.  Since the sewing sessions with our homeschool group are over, the wheels in my brain have been turning and looking for fun things to sew.  Even though I have several pants in a pile that need hemming for a friend.  I am getting to them, honest!

My very first wallet project!  I found this wonderful tutorial at Modest Maven, sewing my way for a bifold wallet.   Modest Maven has a lovely blog with several very nicely done tutorials.   And her bifold wallet one was simple and easy to follow with a lot of photos to help walk you through it.

Since this was my "test" wallet, I used scraps of fabric I had laying around and I put on a velcro closure instead of a snap.  I was happy with how it turned out and am now planning on making more.  My husband has requested one without the strap so I need to get fabric for his.

My 11yr. old son wanted to make one so he picked out some fabric and I supervised him and helped with a little sewing.

 He did a pretty good job, if I say so myself!

Another quick and fun project is this pleated zipper pouch.  I found the tutorial for it here at a blog called Skip to my Lou.  
Again, the instructions were simple and easy to follow with nice photos walking you through each step, and the author, Cindy, even has a free downloadable pattern which I was able to print.  I sewed the first one with some fabric scraps and a zipper I had in my stash and was happy with the result.  One of my daughters confiscated it "hot off the ironing board" and is now using it as a make-up bag.  I decided to make another one for my daughters' friend for her birthday.   

It's hard to see the pleats in these photos, but these little pouches turn out so cute that I just want to make a bunch of them to give away as gifts!  I have 5 daughters, a mother-in-law, and several sisters and sisters-in-law that I could pass them along to so I'd better get crackin'!  Oh, but I need to get my hubby's wallet done first.  And then there's that pile of pants in the corner that aren't going to hem themselves.   *sigh*   I guess my cute little zippered pouches will have to wait a bit before they get sewn.   But, they stitch up so quickly that I'm sure I can sneak in a couple here and there between my other sewing projects.  yay

In Home Sewing Sessions

It started with me organizing last minute sewing sessions for kids in our homeschool group.  I had signed my children up for science/art sessions, which were cancelled at the last minute because the hosting mom had changes in her work schedule.  As a result, my kids were very disappointed and urged me to "host something, Mom!...please!"  So, I settled on sewing.

We ended up having 10 students-9 kids and 1 mom (who quickly morphed into being my assistant instead).  My two teen girls were our helping hands.  I never planned it to be such a large group, but most of the kids came as pairs of siblings and I couldn't bare to turn anyone away.  Besides, it was a last minute idea and the end of the school year, for most, so we went out with a bang!

In my dining room, I set up a long, long, folding table which I recently inherited (it stayed up for the whole 6 weeks) and we started out with 6 sewing machines (4 being mine).  We met once a week for 2hrs. in the afternoon.  We could have used an extra 30-40 mins each week and we usually went a little overtime.  It took the first couple of sessions to get the kids used to the machines and sewing terms and being comfortable with following the given instructions.   By the end of the first session, we encountered problems with half the machines which ate up a lot of sewing time.  I ended up putting 1 machine away for good, and which I'm still awaiting my sewing machine "guy" to come by to check out.  So, we were down to 2 kids on a machine which in my head seemed like it would work but in reality did pose a few problems.  I can see now that ideally, 1 person per machine is best and even more ideally everyone bringing their own machines is the way to go.   And how I will do it next time, if and when there is a next time.  
Two of the machines are not in this picture, one of which is my trusty vintage  in-table Kenmore, below.

The first week we made wrist pincushions.   My reasoning behind this was that it was a small, simple project that got the kids measuring, cutting, machine sewing, stuffing, working with elastic, and hand sewing and it would also solve the problem of pins and pin cushions floating around the room each week.  As it turned out, only about two of the kids kept bringing theirs back each time and using them.   Ah well, the kids were excited about completing a project and actually sewing on the machines.  

I also learned after that first week that I would have to scrap most of the project plans that I had set up because even though they were all beginning sewers, they were already moving at completely different paces and sharing machines that occasionally had problems wouldn't work for more detailed projects.  I had to keep it simple and pick projects that could be completed in roughly 2hrs., with possibly a slight overlap to the next week.  I found it was more challenging than I thought to pick projects to accommodate several different criteria.  We had ages from 9 - 15, boys and girls, kids who worked much quicker than others, kids who could be instructed once and then work and then others who needed step by step guidance, and these varying levels had nothing to do with age.  It was a very interesting learning experience for me.  All the kids were great, but I would certainly do things differently - as they say, whoever they are that say things for all the world to listen and learn, hind's sight is 20/20.

 Happy busy hands.  :)

Another project we did was pillowcases using the "hot dog" method, which the kids loved because there was that "ah-ha!" moment when you pull out the fabric from it's roll and turn everything right-side out and suddenly you have a pillowcase!  It was like a magic trick to them!  They were all proud of their pillowcases.  :)

I wish I had thought to take photos each week throughout, but every session was so busy from start to finish that I didn't think of it until the last week.  I would have needed one person appointed just for photography in order to get that job done.  But at least I got a few photos of the students as a remembrance.    

While I don't feel that these sessions were actually sewing lessons as much as they were a time of sewing projects, I still think the kids learned something new, and I know that several of them have been inspired to attempt their own projects at home, which, in my opinion, is really what it's all about.  And along with that, I got to know these kids a little better which I thoroughly enjoyed.  

Overall, it was a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.  One I would happily do again.  :)