Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Prep work ...............

Organize, Organize.  Prepare and Organize.

We used to say that when working on speeches for class.

Today .... we are talking prep work.  Not organization.  Any one that has seen my fiber, knitting, sewing, embroidery nest in the corner of the tv room .... knows that!

But preparing is the most important task when it comes to sewing. 

And we all HATE it! 

Really!  We hate it!!

We want to take that fabric, cut out the pattern ....... and let that sewing machine run!!!!

The other day, I finished my pajama pants for class. 

I had measured.

I had compared the pattern to my favorite pajamas.

I felt comfortable cutting and sewing and finishing them.

I tried them on ..... and suddenly, they were not pajama pants but very baggy palazzo pants!  Which I just discovered are back (still) in style!! 


Now ... I can/will  wear them.  But I'm not happy/ comfortable/ or pleased with the results.  I'm happy with the construction ....but the fit?????  Not so much!

So ... I had bought some fabric for this dress.

View E .... the perfect dress for the beer garden on Beer Tuesdays!

And with my unhappiness with the fit of the aforementioned pajama/ palazzo/ MC Hammer pants ..... I made a quick muslin bodice to check the size.  It fits. 

Damn!!!  I wanted it to be too big!

I washed, ironed and pinned the fabric.

Hundreds of pins.

Every few inches so the lines of the plaids line up perfectly .... vertically and horizontally.

Fortunately, it is a nice even plaid and it should match up nicely ........... now that it is pinned and pinned and pinned.

Hopefully, by the end of the day ............ everything should be matched, pinned, cut and marked.

And I might get to start sewing tomorrow.

Pictures ( or swearing!!!!) will follow!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Beatrix Potter meets Picasso ............

The other day, I received a fabulous shipment of 100% Merino felt from Felt on the Fly.

I went to bed with visions of sugar plums, dancing through my head! 

No -- really.

I could not get those luscious colors out of my brain! 

Most of the wool felt I have been using is 75% wool.  This is truly the good stuff!

Some of the designs for the needle cases and pincushions have come from my collection of antique cookie cutters.  Chickens, cats, tea pots, trees, pigs, cows................ even a turkey!  And bunnies .... I have a couple of bunnies.

So Peter Rabbit came instantly to mind!

So yesterday ........

I traced.

I cut.

I cut some more.

I stitched.

I embroidered.

I beaded.

And this is what I have so far .....................

I kept thinking ......... another stitch .......... a few more beads ............... the bunny will appear!

I'm not ripping it out!

But it may take a very LARGE glass of wine to make that look like a bunny!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Inspiration ...........

Sometimes, you find inspiration in the most ordinary places.  Like under a very deep layer of dust!

For those of you that don't know me ................ I LOVE LOVE LOVE antiques.

I love all antiques but the ones that speak and sing to me, are antiques that are primitive, handmade, simple pieces.  Practical, useful, but beautiful. 

A level with a heart carved into it.

I love the grungy paint  ...  the uneven surface .... the "not-so-perfect" carving.

Comb box carved from a cigar box.

I love pieces that may not be "true" antiques but pieces that were inspired by vintage pieces.

Redware plates

I have collected antique sewing items for years .............. ok, make that decades.

Like over three.

But under four!

Small ... very small selection of my collection.  Yea... its in lots of baskets and bowls!

Mostly, I collected wooden darning eggs.  Basically, because that was what I could afford at the time.

(Some things never change!)

But I have always studied, read, drooled and coveted other sewing items.......... such as thimbles, sewing birds, and needle cases.

Pincushion .. wool felt, hand cut design, hand dyed floss.

And I think these items have some of that antique/ simple/ handcrafted feeling.

Heart-felt needle case.

Finally, for Jennifer or more importantly, Olivia ..... a cat needle case.

Wool felt, appliqued hearts, beaded eyes..........

I think there will be more of these!  ;)

Kind of like Miss Eff's cats ............ they will multiply!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Well, duh!!!!

One of my New Year's resolutions promises hopes was to spend less time on the computer.

And guess what???  I've been getting more done.

Less computer time + less driving time = more crafting, sewing, knitting time.

Well, duh!

There are still plenty of UFO's.  (And why are UFO's so easy to ignore????)

But I have been busy getting some new stuff made.

I started making wool felt needle books .... when you flip up the top, there are "pages" to slip your sewing needles.

What would Miss Eff's be without a "tea" themed needle book??

While I am on a theme ........... how about chickens???

This is one of my favorites!

There will be more as the week carries on.  I'm excited about a small shipment of 100% merino felt that I have coming in the next day or so. 

I've also tried to shake up the tea towels a bit.  New and different transfers and more unique towels.  This does increase the price on some ...... but they are still totally hand embroidered.

And yes, I have been sewing and I made a ruffled apron for spring for the Summer Kitchen.  I love the pastel colors and the bias ruffle.

And finally, I found a use for those really tiny bits of yarn.

A heart-shaped dishcloth!!! 

OK -- I have to be honest.  These are tiny dishcloths. But they are cute .....

And some days ............. cute is all you need.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sew Scary

As you know, I was asked  ...  drafted ... drug into teaching a beginning sewing class for Scott Community College adult education classes.

When asked if I could sew, I said yes. At that moment ... it was to fill in for an instructor who was to have surgery.  Not a problem!  I can fill in!

Then ... the instructor retired.  And guess who got the class.  Yea.  The girl on the other side of the screen.

I talk to the instructor and asked about her handouts, curriculum guide, pattern suggestions, etc.  She tells me to "make the class my own!"


Oh no. 

So the class guide came out and I see that I am not teaching one session but two!

Scary thoughts begin to enter my mind.  Like when was the last time I put a zipper in!!!!

I wasn't worried at that time (at least, not much!) because we need a minimum of four students for the class.  Maybe there will never be four students!

And then my contract arrived.

The hyperventilating began.

The last several days, I have been going over sewing books -- trying to come up with handout information.

I bought a new book ....... The Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp.

I pulled out my old Coats and Clark sewing book, my Vogue sewing book, and my complete collection of Home Sewing books from the Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences from 1931.

The panic attacks started.

Then I pulled out my old 4-H sewing books ....... and I found this little sketch and fabric swatch.

There are notes on the dress ..

Fabric ............. $2.97.  Pattern ....... 60 cents.  Zipper ..... 55 cents.  And thread .... 15 cents.

Total was $4.27.

As I looked at the fabric scrap .... I realized that the dress was upstairs in the cedar chest.

I looked over it .... the darts were perfectly even.  The zipper pucker free.

And even though there was a little patched clip underneath the arms eye ( I did it when clipping the curve)  ..... it still won the blue ribbon at the fair.

I was 12 when I made that dress.

I might get through the next six weeks!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Prototype .............

I had an idea for a project.

So I gathered my materials. 

Did some embroidery. 

Cut a few scraps of fabric and seamed them together.

And I made this ..........................

Now its not a miserable failure and it will work just fine as the potholder it is suppose to be.  But I have learned several lessons about ...........

1) trying to work with a plaid fabric that is not printed straight.  Even after I pulled threads to straighten it.

2) 2 layers of heat-insulating batting do not give nice, pretty seams when pressed.  The batting makes it very thick and it sounds really crunchy!!!

3) And finally, just like framing a picture ... a wider matting is almost always better.

That chicken is cute if I do say so myself!!

Now ....back to the drawing board sewing machine.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This is no pity party...........

January was a tough month.

I highlighted it earlier.  But not all of it.

The divert-er on the shower broke.

The electric mattress pad died.  Sort of.  Well, on my side.

Actually, I think that a hot flash short-circuited it.

So we spent a week ....... in our unheated bedroom ......... sleeping on 27" of bed.  Both of us.  Fortunately, we really like each other and we were fine!  Honey did get tired of me, snoring in his ear and after a week, purchased another.

But the real kicker ........ is the truck.

Yea .... what is with a 17 year-old Ranger with 223,000 miles, biting the perennial dust??????  And seriously, could it have done it before we bought new snow tires and a new battery?????

I have a goal of being debt-free, sooner than later.

Three years ago .... we had 17 medical bills.  Now we have two.

In the last ten years, we have survived a plant closure, temporary work,  18 months of COBRA insurance, job loss, 9 months of unemployment, cancer, a cancer scare, a heart attack, a major cut in salary, self-employment and drought.

We have worked multiple jobs, carried paper routes, picked up beer cans, packed lunches, baked bread, and shopped thrift stores.

We have struggled and juggled and prayed.   It hasn't been pretty, but we have hung on.

The other day ... I was thinking how to fit a future car payment into the budget.

And I looked at the sampler that hangs above my stove.

Walk Humbly with Thy God.

 I talk about wanting to live a simpler, more purposeful life.  And then ........... when I have to go without a car ...... it is all about me!!!

I'd say ... God tapped me on the shoulder but in reality, He pretty much had to take me down!  To make a car payment work, savings would be slashed, bills would be juggled and  His share cut.  And that is unacceptable.

So --- for the next couple of months -- we are a one-car family.

Wow!  Does that sound archaic or what???

Like having a land line or a hard-line telephone.  Or a 19" television. Or no lap top. Or doing laundry at a laundromat.

I think I can make this work!