Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Anyway, my sewing goal for 2008 was to sew--a lot! I accomplished that. I don't think I took any Patternreview classes, just applied what I've learned in classes I took the previous three years, many of which were on fitting or applicable to fitting theory (thinking of the dressform class). I haven't posted my sewing goals yet for next year but I've been thinking about and fine tuning them.
One thing I have noticed during 2008 is that I have relied heavily on blogs and my blog feeds for my daily sewing "fix". For a while, I would visit PR and check out virtually every review on garments and some on accessories. These days, hardly at all. Unfortunately, I'm busier, PR is growing exponentially, and the discovery of blog feeds has me keeping up with a projects from the infancy of the idea/concept stage to the finished garment. I find I like the story, the nuances of the project, the progression of the garment, the personality of the blogger--it reveals a much bigger "picture" than of just a review alone. I do check out the message boards on a daily basis, but rarely check out the daily gallery anymore. Is anyone else like this? Unfortunately, I do miss a lot of good sewing reviews, but there is only so much time in a day.
Blog posts are easily "digestable". We given a project in pieces many times. Step by step, with bloggers highlighting the fitting issues, special techniques, or problems they have faced. I have posted this before and will reiterate, their posts are an invitation to their homes to join them on their daily/weekly sewing adventures. And for that I appreciate it. Sewing is an adventure, a journey. I'm constantly learning something new from other bloggers and/or PR members.
This is just one of my many sewing thoughts for the day. On the actual sewing front, I cut the patch pockets for my son's jeans. I'd like to get them finished up by tomorrow. Lindsay also posted an insightful comment--it might be prudent to check out the store flyers--a pea coat for my daughter might be had at a great price. Oh...it's the proverbial Catch-22. I like her to see me sewing, get her excited about the process (maybe light a spark for the future in the deep recesses of her brain), have a smashing coat to her specs but it all comes at a price. Literally and figuratively. I can tell you I want a blue/black wool coat (the Paron's wool in my stash), with black leather welt pockets, and the special buttons I picked up at Pacific Trims. She just says, "I want a pea coat." Nothing specific. So maybe we should just look for a RTW one as she's not looking for anything special. "Special" would require ME sewing it. I'll wait a while longer and see where this issue is headed.
That blue/black wool coat I just mentioned with specifics IS a coat (for me) in progress. I would like to get the interlining done by the weekend. There are a couple of other coats in the planning stages. During the Fall I purchased the Vogue Pattern magazine, and there was an excellent article on coats. Made me think maybe I should have used Thinsulate, but I'll use what I have on hand which is the flannel. Time to pare down the stash!
Right now I'm ready to turn off one of the movies we rented tonight--Leatherheads. None of us like it, and we're a football/baseball kind of family. Everyone else went to bed, and the only thing keeping me up is this post. Certainly not the movie. BTW, has anyone rented the movie, "The Visitor"? I have to pick up some movies for the New Year's Eve tomorrow and Ghost Town and Eagle Eye will proably not be available tomorrow. So I'm on the lookout for good movies. They can be out of the mainstream, but I want quality flicks. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.
One good thing is Penn State made it the Rose Bowl, rather than the Toilet Bowl this year ;) ! I'm looking forward to seeing them play.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
I just mentioned in a previous post that it was a lean year. I always request a lean year and never got one until this year. DH always says, "I won't buy you anything big..." and then! I open up the credit card statement to find a big price tag LOL. Last year, some of the things he bought me included a big external hard drive and a wireless mouse and keyboard. Truthfully, I don't want a wireless mouse and keyboard. Dead batteries drive me insane and our Dish remote eats them up. I can't be bothered with my batteries dying on my mouse and keyboard so both ended up on his computer.
It's a funny thing how the sales were SO good before Christmas, followed by some even deeper cuts afterward. So this year I pitched the idea to DH about Christmas giving for the kids on December 25th, then maybe we (just DH and I) could exchange gifts on Orthodox Christmas the first week in January. Something definitely "small" monetarily speaking. He has Ukranian blood running through his veins so these plans would be appropriate.
Anyway, I did get a couple of gifts:
From my mom and dad: Kitchen towels and $100, an anniversary gift (money) but I haven't opened the card yet.
From myself ;): Pre-Christmas housecleaning yielded three surprises--2 pairs of long-lost scissors and seam gauge. They've finally come home! Those notions sprout legs you know.
DS#2: a multicolored beaded bracelet purchased at the school's holiday shoppe.
That's enough for me. It was a very happy Christmas filled with good food and family. And that's what makes every holiday special.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
This morning, I received a wonderful Christmas present. It wasn't a material item, but rather a great tidbit of info from (I believe it was a pattern review) PR. One poster mentioned lowering the pressure foot before threading to engage the tension discs, or something like that. It has absolutely never occurred to me, nor have I ever heard anything about lowering the foot in relation to the tension discs in my 30+ years of sewing!
However, I tried that out today on my embroidery machine, the one that I was discussing tension "headaches" several days ago. Sure enough, lowering the presser foot before threading made the difference. I could feel the thread engaged in the disc when threading with the foot lowered. A sure WOW moment by such a random comment which has proved immensely helpful to me--kind of like an unexpected Christmas present. My closeup vision is still holding so I don't use the machine's needle threader. Maybe that is why? I think the foot has to be lowered before using the needle threader. Most people probably use it, and I currently don't.
So that was my present. It's a leaner Christmas this year and I stayed right on budget. DH and I didn't exchange gifts so that kept the costs down. And what do I really need anyway? There are always wants, but the needs are very few, if any.
Overall, it was a very nice Christmas. Other than the fact that I was "blessed" with a cold brought home by DS#1 who gave it to me and DS#2. We're coughing/sneezing, our noses are stuffed, and our eyes feel like slits with heavy lids. And with that thought, this is one household that is very ready for bed!
Hope you all had a very nice Christmas day!
Monday, December 22, 2008
My youngest is working on his rice warmer cover. He made the cover and the rice bag as a present for his teacher. He picked out the monogram font and thread color which I did for him, I cut the fabric, but he used the serger to make the bag cover and rice bag and was quite proud of himself! He serged the edges of the inner rice warmer bag, but I had to do the topstitching on my sewing machine to seal it up. He wouldn't be able to maneuver the bag with the rice inside.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I went to Sears yesterday to pick up some tractor chains and went to Walmart. You would NEVER be able to tell the economy is in the dump and retailer sales are down. Every single checkout was open with lines that were so long it was incredible. I'm not used to just-before-Christmas shopping though. We waited about a half hour before reaching the register. Think I caught up on my celebrity reading/fashion info in People, Ok, and every other grocery line mag you can think of while in line.
Today the schedule is sewing, bathroom cleaning, gym time, and the kids cleaning their rooms. Gotta get ready for Christmas Eve.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
That's how I feel right now. Compounding that problem is that we had a little snowstorm yesterday. I bought a nice, new 24 HP garden tractor last June and bought the plow attachment to go with it for winter. Unfortunately, I didn't buy the chains at the time--didn't know if I would need them. Well, you should have seen DH and me removing the mower attachment, putting together the snow blade, then installing it on the tractor. I'm pretty logical, follow the instructions in the manual almost to a T. DH can usually figure out what to do but lacks patience. We were working with limited daylight hours, not always having the right tools, etc., it takes a while to get these things done and lots of interruptions in the process. So we're starting and bickering about things and I say to him, "YOU'RE the engineer! Can't you figure this out???" His response, "I failed Mechanical Drafting because I never went to class!" His degree is ChemE, not MechE LOL! You know, the only high school class I ever failed was sewing! Too busy wearing my garments to hand them in for a grade. What a great match we make, huh ;) .
However, we finally get it together and everything works fine. The snow is piling up as we're putting the finishing parts together yesterday, then he takes it out to plow. It works pretty good, but let's just say I need to get chains pronto. He kept getting stuck, then in typical man style, he doesn't listen to his wife. I told him let's just push it out. After a half hour of him trying to maneuver this big garden tractor with no chains, he finally listened to me. We'd stop the tractor, push it out, then get it going again. The job took twice as long but it's far better than aching backs for two days.
That took most of the morning and early afternoon. Around 3 we came in to start dinner and I worked on two scarves, one was a present to my daughter's pitching coach. I monogrammed the one end, and embroidered, "No. 1 Pitching Coach" on the other end. DD#2 had a lesson this morning so I was able to give it to her along with a gift card. Really, four scarves could have been completed but I kept having embroidery machine tension issues. It seem like the upper tension changes during the stitchout. I'll set it to a good tension, then my machine will make noise and I'll find the tension is really tight. Other times the machine will jam because the tension became non-existent. Those machine tension issues became one major tension headache for me. I was happy to go to bed. And I'm getting the upper tension loopies from time to time again. Really frustrating!
Let's see how my machine is today. Hopefully it will be a better embroidery day.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The othe end...
Tomorrow I put the finishing touches on 3 more and cut out 6 more scarves to make.
Another pleasant thing happened today. I was at my friend's house giving her sewing lessons and she finished her second project. I'm teaching her the new concepts for the third project, which will be a draft dodger. That's what she wanted to make.
Here was her first project (pillowcases). I told her she could topstitch the band for a more professional, RTW look which she did.:
Second project (baby burp cloth with interlining)
An on-her-own project of a matching pillow for her pillowcases:
After finishing her first project (two pillowcases), she went ahead and made a matching pillow with ruffle simply by studying the design of one she had on her bed. See how she pleated the ruffle? Such a nice touch. As a side note, I taught her how to gather (instead of using pleats) and she was so excited about it. She's seeing the possibilities :) ! She just asked me today about continuing lessons after our first set of 5. That's a definite, of course.
That's all for now. It's very late and the pre-Christmas rush has me exhausted.
On the back, I embroidered their names and the year. Pics of the scarves are forthcoming.
The blue fabric print was from Walmart and the embroidery designs were further embellished with Hot-fix crystals for a little holiday "bling". More later, it's a busy day.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Concurrently working on Christmas wall hangings for gifts. Usually I buy religious-themed ornaments for my Godchildren but have been disappointed with the lack of ornate, fancy ornaments as of late. I've always purchased Hallmark ones, but the past few years have been a disappointment in the Nativity, Mary and Jesus, etc., Christmas-themed ones.
So using a coupon code w/sale from Embroidery Library, I purchased 5 new embroidery designs to make the gifts, rather than buy them. Which got me to thinking about the holiday designs I like. My taste is geared toward religious-based or victorian style designs. I bought two Christmas tree designs, one of the Nativity, one of Mary and Jesus, and another one of Christmas bells in a Victorian style. I was so mad I forgot to purchase a Hannukah design for my friend who is Jewish. I'll have to go back and find one just for her.
What I don't like are the "cute-sy" styles--Christmas mice or teddy bears, kid themes, Rudolph or Santa ones. Probably because there is already so much commercialism in Christmas, I tend to go the other route.
FINALLY, I'm getting in the Christmas groove. The butter is sitting on my counter to make cookies, the Christmas tree has been up since Black Friday, and I just finished taking down the rest of the Thanksgiving decorations. Tomorrow it is supposed to be warmer so I'll put them in storage and bring out the rest of the Christmas decorations. Even watched It's a Wonderful Life last night. I still have to take the annual Christmas pic of my kids in front of the tree though. That's like 5-minutes of torture, bribery, and threats LOL. I can hear it now: "Get off me...you're too close...you're breath stinks...why are you acting so dumb?...sit still so we can get this over with... Then they shoot out of the family room once I announce I have enough pics to choose from. Ah...the reasons why we haven't done professional family portraits in maybe 7 or 8 years? Doing it at home prevents 2 hours of parental insanity.
Right now it's wonderfully quiet. My oldest is in her room taking a nap (high school dance followed by a sleepover at her friend's house last night), my other daughter and both boys are down at the batting cages. So what's a mom to do? Turn on some Christmas music, fire up the sewing and embroidery machines, and bask in the holiday spirit!
Sure hope your afternoon is just as wonderful :) !
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I've been using the new dual duty Coats&Clark a lot, probably for about a year. I purchased a lot of spools in black, white, and beige when they were on sale at Hancock's a while back. Come to think of it, that's about how long I've been having tension issues. My machine doesn't seem to like that new thread. I thought it would be better, as in "new and improved". Well, maybe it is, but not for my machine. They highly recommended Mettler. Same price as the Coats&Clark with my lifetime dealer discount. I know C&C is not a recommended brand for serious sewers, but it has always worked for me in the past. Doesn't seem to be anymore with the new spools.
So, I bought several rolls of Mettler. So far, so good. I need to get another 6 years out of this machine :) .
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The good thing is there are no skipped stitches on my samples. The bad thing is my machine is still having some major upper tension issues. My thread tension ranges from 0-9. The 1 setting is the only setting producing an adequate straight and zigzag stitch. I'm using a brand new size 12 needle out of the pack on a decent weight cotton and linen blend--double thickness of fabric. The thread is no more than a year old--top thread is purple Gutterman, bottom is the new Dual Duty Coats&Clark in black. Ditto with other stitches like a sample decorative and knit stitch. A tension of 4 should produce adequate results for all 4 stitch samples. It's one of the reasons I took my machine in in the first place. Unless the roads are bad, it's going back tomorrow.
I'm majorly bummed about this. I have work to do!
Monday, December 8, 2008
The 6th scarf has been embroidered.
Maybe will get my coat interlining cut out today.
Freezing my buns off 'cuz Baby, it's C-c-c-cold Outside. Weather.com indicates 13 degrees at 7:15 a.m. For my metric friends, that translation is 32F degrees is freezing...it's way below that.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Yesterday I even made a chore list for the other kids to be done before coming home from the retreat. Here's a funny, and maybe not so funny story. I don't require my kids to do a whole lot of chores, that will probably be a bad thing in the long run. Between Sports, playing instruments, and maintaining High Honor Roll grades, that takes up a good chunk of timee. However, yesterday I was not going to come home to a sink full of dishes, a dirty kitchen table, and dirty bedrooms.
On to talk about IQ's. I know what my kid's IQ's are. They're high enough that they should make Distinquished Honor Roll every marking period. No excuses. However, I don't place much value on a stupid numerical IQ (and I'm a former teacher). It's simply an indicator of academic "potential". I know kids that have high physical/athletic "IQ's", high social "IQ's", high compassion "IQ's" and those don't get measured and perhaps they should. I especially admire people with high social and compassion IQ's but I don't want to digress at this point from my household story, which is a mockery of the academic IQ number.
DD#2 was given the task of loading the dishwasher and cooking sausage, the Jimmy Dean fat roll. So she rinses off the dishes, loads them into the dishwasher and starts the washer. She's so proud of herself. However, I had to go to the store after the retreat and knew we didn't have any dishwasher detergent left. So I asked her, "What did you use for detergent???" She said, "I have to use detergent in the dishwasher?" DUH! Yes, you do! Don't you have to put laundry detergent in the clothes washer??? "Oh, I didn't know that!" No, dear, you didn't.
That conversation took place after the sausage incident. I wrote on the chore sheet to cook the sausage with a little water in the pan. Well she cut the sausage roll up into cute little slices and covered (and I mean COVERED) the sausage slices in water. Those little slices were drowning! I walk in the front door and my husband says, "Your daughter is having issues with the sausage!" What kind of issues can one have while cooking sausage? Well she does indeed have issues. Here's the joke. The girl has a genius-level IQ. The same girl that once used a 1/4 cup of salt in a batch of fudge instead of using a 1/4 teaspoon.
So much for IQ. Like I said, it's an indicator of academic potential. Doesn't mean one is actually smart LOL. I don't tell my kids what their IQ's are because it's kind of a meaningless number for me. It doesn't factor in desire, motivation, and compassion--traits I highly admire. So next time she presses me for it, I will tell her it's a zero! Most kids her age know that detergent goes in the dishwasher and how to cook sausage.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Fast forward to this morning...what's worse than picking out a knit stitch with dark thread on a dark knit fabric? Picking out a big, white embroidered letter on a knit jacket and avoiding getting a hole while doing it.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I felt incredibly stupid an hour ago. I've been doing a decent amount of embroidery lately and kept having a recurring problem--occasional looping on the top, breaking upper thread (shredding near the needle), and the thread jamming on the end of the spindle. It's been happening for months and changing the thread tension was not working. Changing the needle and needle types wasn't working. Ditto with the thread, it's fairly new anyway. I was almost ready to post the question about what to do about the spindle jamming, then a huge lightbulb went off, and I felt I had a brain the size of a pea.
The problem was likely the spool was placed in the wrong direction on my machine! I never thought about there being a right and wrong way. Here's the "wrong" way (according to my embroidery stitchouts). Notice how the top of the spool is pointing to the left:
All my problems were solved by flipping the thread as in the pic below:
Probably less friction, less hiccupping. And a lot less headaches.
Here's what I was working on when I had the lightbulb moment. It was a RTW Adidas jacket for DD#1. Her teammates paid $54 for a jacket with their name and a tiny tennis racquets on the front--a group team order. We bought her jacket online for $42, and she will have full embroidery on the back as well as the front embroidery. The name of her school is at the top (not shown), the tennis racquets in the middle, followed by the years and positions (my hand covering that) played on the tennis team. She is SO excited about this! I have suddenly become *important*. Amazing. Like Mom can actually do something useful and purposeful and...COOL.
This is the sample embroidery placement, minus the school name above the tennis racquets:
This is the same child that decided she wanted an embroidered scarf like her sister. I'll have to post a pic of the scarf tomorrow. After poo-pooing the idea of a homemade scarf with custom embroidery, she saw the finished product and demanded, "When are you making me one??? I want one!" Suddenly the scarf is now tres chic. I do think it's rather cute myself ;) . And for as much as she turns her nose up at my sewing machine, she was rather annoyed I didn't have it yesterday. She wants to take in her side seams of her tennis t-shirt so it is fitted to her curves.
Also, today was the day I started giving my friend sewing lessons. It went so well, and she is a quick study. Next week, she will be starting her first project, matching pillowcases. I gave her some homework to work on this week in preparation for it.
Tomorrow...work on the jacket embroidery. DD#1 wants it "yesterday".
All those comments, ladies, makes a good case for backup! Maybe a free, dependable machine will come my way. That would be nice.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Can you believe I have never taken in my machine to be serviced? I wanted to at times because we all know a yearly checkup is the right thing to do, but parting with my machine is like taking off my right arm. It's constantly being used too. But I felt it had to go in today. I can do a lot of cutting and embroidery over the next week.
I felt anxious leaving it there. And I felt anxious at home. Give me two days and I'll be suffering from withdrawal symptoms for sure. Cranky, edgey, and irritable. You know that feeling when you think you've momentarily lost your purse? That's what I have when I see my sewing machine is not its proper place. So I have to keep busy and try not to think about it.
Now, if you read my blog post from yesterday about my son's Oregon jacket, you will know that I thought Green Pepper sent me the wrong zipper. It was a 2-way separating zipper (for some reason I didn't think it separated completely. When I called them today, they said that is what is recommended for the jacket. If the top pull is pulled all the way down, it separates like a normal jacket zipper. However, if the zipper is pulled back up to the top, the bottom zipper can be pulled up to allow for sitting room or a little fresh air. I didn't realize that! In fact, it was kind of neat. A new thing I learned about outdoor-wear zippers today as I've always used the standard, one-way separating zipper. The bad thing now is I can't sew the zipper on! I don't have a machine for a week...(Not thinking about it, not thinking about it, not thinking about it.)
Now I'm off to get started on some embroidery research.