Tag Archive | New

Oh Brother!

I don’t know how old Mom’s serger is but I do know that it is really old, old enough to have knob tensions and be extremely difficult to thread. I also know that it has been giving her fits for years. It has a hard time holding its tensions and the lower looper thread keeps breaking. She has had it in for repairs and service many times, but it just never seem to be fixed or to work correctly especially in the last several years. It was another phone call from Mom one week before Christmas, bemoaning that fact that Christmas was just one week away and that her serger would just not behave so she could get her Christmas sewing finished, that finally prompted me to push Mom again to get a new serger.

Years ago when mom’s serger started to act up, I tried to help her replace her serger. When I looked into the available sergers at that time, I found there were two types, the expensive ones, $2000 to $3000, with all the bells and whistles, and the cheap sergers, $200 to $300, with no features and that barely serged. What happened to a nice $500 to $1000 machine that had just a few features but still serged nicely? At the time, Mom was not sewing as much as she use to, so she did not want to spend a large amount of money on a new serger, so a Singer serger from Walmart was purchased.

Big mistake! The machine was horrible!

It rattled and vibrated and did not serge well at all! It was not long before mom had pushed that serger into the corner and went back to fighting with her old, original serger.

Over the years, I have kept an eye on the big expensive sergers, hoping that one might have that special feature that would make it worth the dollar amount it was demanding. But, I never found one that was worth the price. So, as mom complained about her serger, I did not know what to say. Now, I love my serger so I decided to try and help mom by finding a used serger like mine. After some time looking, I did not find a good used serger similar to mine, but I did find a lot of useful information about sergers.

It seemed that most of the newer more expensive sergers that were purchased were hated, with many owners regretting their purchase and they were trying to rid themselves of their new serger’s on eBay. Most said that because there were so many special features that the machine did not serge well or even perform the special features well. It was a bad case of featuritus. On the other hand, almost all the reviews for the cheap sergers could be summed up to one phrase – piece of crap. So once again, where were that middle of the line sergers?

This time though I found one of those great middle of the line serger’s, the Brother 3234DT. This serger had several great special features, but none that took away from it’s main function, serging.

I told Mom what I had learned and she decided to take a chance and to get one of these new Brother 4 thread with differential feed sergers. When it was unpacked and the owner manual read, I helped Mom thread the serger. It threaded very easily with color coded lay in threading, dial tensions, and even auto needle threaders. I then showed Mom the adjustable stitch length and width, and differential feed like my serger has. Mom was very excited about these features. But, Mom’s new serger had some special features that mine did not. One of these features is the auto needle threader. Another feature that this serger has is a free arm. The table portion of the serger can be removed and there is a free arm for serging cuffs and collars. Man, wouldn’t that be handy while sewing baby sleepers? An extended table also came with this serger. Once again the side is removed and replaced with an extended table that would come in very handy when serging heavy or large items. I was so excited about the extra features of this serger that I thought for a moment about replacing my serger with one of these, but then I decided that there was nothing wrong with my serger and it did not need replacing. (But, if and when my serger does need replacing, I know which serger I will look at first.)

Mom seemed very happy with her purchase. She has sewn a couple of things with her new serger so far and says it serged like a dream. No more nightmares from using that old serger. I am happy that she has a good working serger now and that she can enjoy sewing and serging once again. Plus, along the way I learned a lot about sergers that I did not know before.

So until next time, sew forth and serge on!

Covering The Board

IMG_3802My ironing board is old. Well old for an ironing board anyway. I am still using my very first ironing board that I purchased nearly 30 years ago! Of course, the ironing board cover has been replaced many times over that 30+ years. An ironing board cover can only have so much iron-on interfacing glued to it before it needs to be replaced. And each time I replace the ironing board cover, I wonder if I should just replace the whole ironing board instead of just the cover.

IMG_3800I ask this because the cost of a nice cover is about the same as an new inexpensive board with a cover. The question I ask myself every time I buy a new cover is “Have ironing boards technically changed over the years and gotten better to where I am missing out on something by not buying a new board?”

So, this time when it was time to replace the cover, I decided to purchase a whole new ironing board and see if I have been missing out on anything over the years.

IMG_0894While standing in the middle of the isle of Walmartia, I found that I had three choices (i.e. three prices) to choose from. I decided to start at the lowest of the prices. I purchased the least expensive ironing board and took it home. Unfortunately, this ironing board was not inexpensive, it was cheap. To start, it only stood on two pole legs and it was very unsteady. It teetered this was and that every time I pushed my iron across the board. I had to keep catching it to keep it from falling over as I ironed.

IMG_0899The cover on this board was super thin with no padding at all and it was drawn tight around the board with a thin string and a clamp. The board itself was not a solid piece of metal either. It was a metal mesh desk with giant diamond holes in it with an attached outside edge. The diamond mesh was very bumpy to iron on, but the lip made by the attached edge caught the iron and interrupted the ironing process. Plus, this board had a very narrow tip end to the full size of the board, giving me less ironing space where I iron the most. This ironing board was certainly not a replacement for my current ironing board, so undaunted I tried again and back to the store I went!

IMG_0893This time I purchased the middle priced ironing board with higher hopes. It was just a little more expensive than a new cover for my old board was, and this ironing board had two legs in each direction, so I already knew it was going to be superior to the cheap ironing board I had previously purchased. It still had the diamond mesh board top, but I was hopeful that it would be made better and have a better cover, plus it had accessories. This ironing board had an iron holder at the end to give you more board to work on and keep the iron from tipping over when not in use. It also had a shelf on the legs.

IMG_0900This ironing board was certainly steadier than the last board and it did not fall over with the pressure of the iron moving back and forth, but the edge of the mesh top still had a lip. I might not have noticed the lip so much if once again, this ironing board did not have the same thin, non padded, tied on with string, cover that the cheap board had. If I kept this board I would immediately have to replace the cover. So, it was up to the accessories to “wow” me into replacing my old ironing board with this one.

I’m sorry to say, the accessories did not “wow” me. I am sure that for some, the shelf attached to the legs of the board is the greatest thing ever, but for me it was not. My ironing board has to be movable and with stuff stacked on the shelf, this board became unmovable. So, for me, the shelf would never be used. Plus, I don’t need another shelf to stack stuff on.

IMG_0897The next accessory was the iron holder. This holder is a great idea in keeping a hot iron from becoming a hot burn. But, what I found was that the holder created more work for me when ironing so I would never use it. When I iron, I mostly use the top half of the board, so I had to take extra walking steps to place the iron on the holder. It did not take long to tire of – iron, take two steps to set the iron on holder, take two steps back, move the garment, take two steps to pick up the iron, take two step back to the garment, and then repeat these steps. Simply put, my iron was not at arms reach, so if I kept this board I would not use the holder. Since the accessories did not work out for me, I saw no reason to replace my current ironing board with this board either.

IMG_3797Upon examining the highest price ironing board at Walmart, I found a duplicate of my current ironing board. Walmart had two styles of the this price ironing board. The first was the same diamond mesh board as the lower priced boards and there was no way I was purchasing that one even if the cover was thicker and nicer because of the previous issues with the mesh boards. The second board looked just like the ironing board I currently have at home in the sewing room, except that the cover was not as nice. So, why spend the money for a new ironing board when it was exactly what I already had?

IMG_3798I guess nothing new and revolutionary has occurred over the years to improve the ironing board. With my new knowledge of ironing boards, I decided I would be keep my same old ironing board and replacing the cover.

As I looked at new ironing board covers, I learned that they are the same as new ironing boards. You get what you pay for with the lowest price covers being thin, non padded and string tightened and the higher prices ones being thicker, padded and velcroed on. With what I had learned from my ironing board experiment, I went ahead and purchased the higher priced, thicker, padded, velcroed cover. The new cover fits my old ironing board great and I am back to ironing on my latest sewing project. Stay tuned to see it soon!

Until then, sew forth and iron on!

Summer Buggin’, Had Me A Blast

DSCN2049I decided to follow my own advice and to continue with my “Just Do It” New Year’s resolution just with a smaller and less complicated amigurumi crochet pattern this time around.

Digging through my patterns, I picked these three bugs as my next patterns to make. I have had these patterns for a little while now and have always wanted to crochet them, but I had just never gotten around to it. These patterns definitely meet my New Year’s criteria but are definitely smaller and much less time consuming than the making of Arnold the turtle. And with that, these three bug-eyed bugs became my next amigurumi projects to make.

DSCN2056The first bug I made was the caterpillar. Even though I had read the pattern before I started, I had crocheted several of his pieces before I realized that I was only supposed to be crocheting in the back loop. While holding the pieces that I had crocheted together, the caterpillar looked like he was turning out just fine being crocheted in both loops, so I kept crocheting in both loops. After completing the crocheting and stuffing, it was a little odd to stitch one ball to the top and one ball to the side of the first ball, but it worked out fine. Once the stitching was done, I gave this caterpillar a big smile and with that he was done.

DSCN2055The second bug that I made was the mosquito. This time I did remember to crochet the pieces in the back loop only. The pattern called for just 4 legs though. Insects have six legs so I thought about making him two more legs, but since I was only giving this mosquito two body parts instead of the three he should have and technically would be stitching those 4 legs to the wrong body part, I decided to go ahead and just follow the pattern and only give my mosquito 4 legs and not worry about it being anatomically correct. At the end, it was a little odd stitching the mosquito’s eyes on. Unlike the caterpillar who’s eyes sit on the top of the head, the mosquito’s eyes were stitched to the side of the head. This meant that the safety eyes were attached at the top of the crocheted pieces instead of the side. Once the stitching was done, I gave this mosquito a smile and he too was done.

DSCN2050The ladybug was the final bug that I made. Once again, I had all six legs that the pattern called for crocheted before I remembered that I was supposed to be crocheting the pieces just in the back loop. Because the caterpillar had turned out just fine being crocheted in both loops, I kept on crocheting. The pattern called for all the spots and the ladybugs wings to be the same size, 6 single crochets in the magic ring. After looking at a couple of pictures of ladybugs, I decided that I wanted my spots to be different sizes. So, I made two spots as the pattern called for, two spots with 9 single crochets in the magic ring, and then two spots with 12 single crochets in the magic ring. I then stitched 1 of each size of spot to each wing with the largest spot at the bottom of the wing and the smallest spot at the top. Next the ladybug’s eyes were stitched to the top of the head like the caterpillar, making it easier to stitch them on, but it became a tight squeeze when stitching the antenna and wings to the ladybug. If I had crocheted in the back loops only, the ladybug would have been bigger and this would have made the stitching on of the antenna and wings easier, but in the end I completed the stitching and it all worked out just fine. Once again with the stitching done, I gave the ladybug a smile and she was done.

DSCN2053I wanted my bugs to stand on their own but this was not going to happen. The caterpillar is the most likely one that I made to stand on his own, and sometimes will with some squishing down. Because of the weight of the mosquito’s head and eyes though, his 4 legs will not balance him properly. I can squish him down and get him to stand for awhile, then he falls forward since he is so top heavy.

I am lucky I got the ladybug to stand long enough for the pictures for this post. Even though the ladybug’s legs are all the same size, by the time the legs were stitched around the body, the front and back legs are shorter than each other. I could have removed these legs and made them longer to solve this problem, but I decided not too.

DSCN2057So, between the heavy eyes and head and the uneven legs around the body, the ladybug is not great at standing. Maybe if I had crocheted in the back loop as the pattern said to, the body would be bigger and the legs would not be as curved around the body? This might have helped the ladybug to stand better and if I make this pattern again I will see if that is the case.

Even though the bugs will not readily stand on their own, they did all turn out to be very cute and they were fun to make, and I have a great time doing the crocheting and stitching them together.

I don’t know why I hesitated on crocheting these patterns for so long, but I would not hesitate to make all three bugs again.

Until then, crochet forth and bug on!

Now where did I put that Trapper Keeper anyway?

The precious, the precious…

Do any of you remember any of your first day of a new school year?

It was all so exciting and scary at the same time!SchoolSupplies1

 

New clothes and shoes of course, but more important to me were the new school supplies! Sorry I must admit here that I am a HUGE fan of office supplies and I always love to see what cool new things they have invented for kids to go back to school with for every new school year. Since I used to roam with the dinosaurs, I am always amazed at all of the cool high tech things kids get to go to school with in these days of future past. For us oldsters it was usually something along the lines of Pencil’s and Paper. Erasers, yes lots of those since we were pretty sure the mistakes we were going to make that year would be of EPIC proportions so we had to have some way to ERASE the evidence.

Glue1Some sort of glue or paste, depending of course which one would make a bigger mess stuck in our hair and on everything else and which tasted better. Why yes I did purchase the new mint flavored Elmer’s Glue, didn’t you? Only the finest ground up horse hooves would do for us kids back in the day.

Then of course I remember the year that Mead brought out the very first version of the Trapper Keeper. Man were those things cool! See! I told you I was OLD! Roamed with the dinosaurs people, roamed with the dinosaurs I tell ya!

Trapper1Oh man! I just had to have one! In pink! Oh yeah! And you should probably go ahead and throw on a Unicorn or two, and maybe a rainbow just to be on the safe side of course. I didn’t want to be seen in public without being in the haute of fashion!1963-jetsons-school

But today kids go to school with all kinds of crazy things. Smartphones, Tablet computers, Laptops, Graphing Calculators, Fitbits, Nike+’s, and a whole host of other crazy things to keep them distracted just long enough that they don’t have much time left over to learn much of anything.

It is fun to reminisce about the past, and a little nostalgia every once in awhile is okay, but it’s not healthy to romanticize the past too much.

At the end of the day, today’s kids aren’t all that much different from when you and I were kids, and most of the school supplies are still the same too. The things they teach kids have changed over the years of course. The humanities don’t seem to be taught as often and with as much fervor as they were when I was a child. But I think that the basic Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are still there. I don’t believe that things like history and literature are pushed very much anymore. It’s too bad, those were my favorite classes when I was in school.

And while I still don’t have everything in my life figured out, I can take comfort in another kind of nostalgia, reminiscing about how much I’ve learned over the years. I can only hope that when I look back on my life, I’ll regard this version of myself as equally clueless. Only then will I know how far I’ve come.

Until next time, Sew Forth and Trapper Keeper on!

New Years Resolutions… I’ve had a few!

Well there is just one more week left in the first month of the new year 2014.

And over the years I like most of you used to always make several resolutions about what I wanted to accomplish in the new year.

Stuff that I really, really wanted to get done, but I could just never seem to make happen in the previous year for some reasonable excuse or another.

Well a few years ago I decided that rather than make some silly arbitrary list of things that I wanted to make happen at some point in the future, that I would just do stuff that I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.

It’s been working out great for me so far!

You know what they say! YOLO (You Only Live Once)!

How about you? How many of your New Year’s Resolutions have you already broken three weeks in?

I think this comic from the DOGHOUSEDIARIES says it best:

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I won, but I lost, but I won

Well after organizing and re-packing all of my fabric into fifty two separate boxes, the fabric in my stash is finally organized, pictured, labeled and put back in the closet, or at least mostly put back in the closet. Some of it just would not fit, so it is sitting in boxes next to the closet instead.

And with that my New Year 2013 resolution is finally complete! Yay!

Now that my stash is finally fully organized and under control again, I am very satisfied with the results and very pleased with myself for a job finally completed and done well. It has been a long time coming.

And I felt that it was time for some relaxation and what better way to relax than to check out Fabric Mart’s latest sale? And what better way to reward myself for a job well done than to make a fabric purchase?

Now, a small fabric purchase of a piece or two of shiny new fabric should do just fine I thought to myself. And the fact that it was on sale for an unbelievably awesome deal and that it would not ever enter the stash at all, but would instead be used right away should be a fine reward for anyone who had just completed a total reorganization of their stash, but oh no, not for me. Instead I ended up purchasing 45 yards of fabric on sale at Fabric Mart, for a grand total of 37 pounds of new fabric. Cheese Louise!

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But, but, but the flannel was only two dollars a yard and the wool was imported from Italy, and the pique is just right for the husband’s shirts and at just one dollar per yard how could I not buy at least 10 yards of it? That’s 4 shirts for just $10! Really?!? How could I not buy it ALL? REALLY?!? How could I actually go and BUY more fabric?

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After just spending almost 2 months of my free time reorganizing all of my fabric stash how could I possibly add more to it? Hadn’t I handled enough fabric lately to have grown sick of it? Hadn’t I just found so many pieces that I had long forgot I purchased so it was like a new fabric purchase to me anyway? Hadn’t I been inspired by all of the cool pieces in the stash to do something with them? Why oh why did I feel the need to purchase still more fabric? Now I will have to get more boxes. Now I will have to take more pictures. Now I will have to add more categories to my new stash organization system. When will I ever have the time to sew again?

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Although I can not answer all these questions right now, I can answer the last one. It is time to start sewing again after a two month hiatus. While organizing the stash I found two pair of pants for me already cut out and just waiting to be sewn up. So that is next on my list to do. And I set out 4 pieces of fabric from the stash for baby sleepers. So that will be the second thing I put on my to do list. And I know exactly what piece of fabric I want to use for the husband’s next shirt too.

So let the sewing begin!

And perhaps I can stay busy enough sewing fun new things that my fabric addiction will subside, at least for a short time…  Or until the next great fabric sale that is just too good to pass up, so maybe I am safe for a week or two! I hope!

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

P1020861With the sorting of all my fabric in the stash finally completed, it was time to start re-boxing it all back up. And I must say that I just hated to be putting all of my lovely fabric back into boxes. I was wishing as I was packing it back up that I had a way of displaying everything in my stash at once so I could see what I have without looking in the boxes. I could have bought the clear plastic totes to box up the stash in, but I am a frugal person at heart and I didn’t want to put out the money for them.

So, how else could I box my stash back up and yet still be able to see what I had in the boxes?

The answer was a simple one of course! A picture of the contents of the box, taped to the outside of the box, would let me see what I had in the box and yet the fabric would be safe and secure in storage inside it’s box. This also went hand in hand with the way I wanted the stash categorized for my needs.

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P1020916So my Organizational Categories that I came up with are as follows: Category 1 is Knits, solid colors, 2 yards or longer. And so in the first box I arranged 9 pieces of knit solid color 2 yards or longer fabric in the box. I had picked darker colors to go into this box. And since I had taken the time to pre-sort all of my fabrics as I unboxed them all, I knew that I had all of my pieces of this type of fabric together.

Once I was sure they would fit in the box ok, I then removed the 9 pieces of fabric and took a picture of them. I then re-boxed up the 9 pieces of fabric, and then I printed out the picture I took and labeled the box and picture 1a. Next I placed the picture in a plastic sheet protector and taped it to the front of the box so I could easily see it from the side as it was stacked with other boxes in the closet. Since I have many more pieces in this category, I repeated the process for the next box but labeled it 1b and so on with the next boxes of fabric.

Now when I decide that I want to make something that will require a piece of solid color knit fabric of more than 2 yards in length, I will only need to look at the photos on the boxes in the 1XX series to determine which box I need to open. And when I remove a piece of fabric from a box, I will pull the picture out of the plastic protector and mark out the fabric on the picture showing that it has been used and is no longer in the box. Also, if I need to condense boxes in the future, I can just retake the pictures for the the front of the box to show the boxes current inventory.

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P1020923Fortunately or unfortunately, depending who you are and how you think about it, I am not parting with very much of the fabric from my stash. I had started this project with the original intent of getting rid of quite a bit of the fabric that I would probably never use while I was organizing and categorizing it. But that didn’t end up happening.

While I was discussing my intentions with the husband, he asked why I wanted to part with any of my fabric that I had spent so long carefully curating, and he was right. Why would I? It isn’t like I didn’t have room to store it or anything like that. And each piece in the stash is a wanted piece of fabric that I was willing to give money for and was willing to store, sometimes for many years on end.

He wondered why I would part with these pieces only to end up going back out and purchasing them again in the end. I told him it was probably the thrill of the purchase, to which, he of course responded with some smart comment about charging me for each piece that I removed from the stash so I felt like I was getting nothing for my money. I promptly ignored his last comment, but I took his other comments to heart.

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P1020873Of course, there are always those pieces that you just adored back when you first purchased them and at the time knew just exactly what you wanted to make from them, but after aging in a box for awhile, they just don’t have the same appeal to you when you next see them. And all of those pieces have now departed the stash and are being sent to a local charity that makes things to sell at craft shows.

Also a lot of my older scraps that I had been storing are finally making their way to the garbage can. I view scraps quite differently now than I used to.

Previously I would always keep all my scraps, just in case, you never know, like aliens are landing on earth and the only thing that would save us is if I could make a rope from the tied together pieces of the scraps and we could climb down from the rooftop using the rope made from the scraps and we would be saved from certain destruction, and on and on. But after storing the scraps now for years, and just never really needing them, they are finally departing the stash.

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P1030024I remember the first time that I ever threw away the scraps from a project, it upset me greatly and I ended up retrieving the scraps from the garbage can, but I then found a bit of bravery and threw them away again. And I did not in the end ever miss or need them. It was all ok.

So, now it is time I have decided for the scraps in the stash to just go away. Now, bear in mind, that I am pretty conservative about what I consider to be scraps. If I can squeeze a baby sleeper or a size 6 month t-shirt out of a scrap, it’s not a scrap. Instead it is still a usable piece of fabric to me. So, the scraps I am parting with really are scraps. Two or three inches here, four of five inches there, etc, but even at that I even kept some or the cuter scraps for appliqués.

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P1020875As I am writing this I am still in the long process of re-boxing the stash. It is a very slow and painstaking process and so I am taking it slow. I wanted to get this sorting and boxing process done right this time, because I want the stash organized and under control for the first time in a very long time.

And I want to be able to easily and quickly find what I want, when I want it. So far it is looking good with my chosen categories and pictures. And I am excited to be done with the boxing and to start on my next project and to be able to find a piece of fabric from the stash without spending hours looking for it as I would have previously. My husband was nice enough to design me a small computer database of the categories and photos so that before I even head to the stash I can see an overview of everything I have without even leaving my sewing room. I have my fingers crossed that it will all work as I had planned. Here is to hoping that I am right!