Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Did I Just Make?

I have no idea! Technically, it's a cover for something hunting related. I'm making it for Rich, who is making me a tall cat stand for our new kitten. I'm also making him a cover for his tree stand and redoing a medium-sized seating pad. The velcro on the pad and thingamajig cover was in great shape so I was able to reuse that, however, I'm buying more velcro for the tree stand cover. It's great to be able to barter services like this. The cat stands (or cat trees?) I'm looking at are anywhere from $150-$300, and I know he'll be able to make one even better than what I'm seeing in the catalogs.

Rich bought the outdoor fabric on his own after I directed him to a few online stores that specialize in outdoor fabric. He called and then made the purchase. The tree stand should be done in a few days, then I'll work on the seating pad which should be a snap. He bought just enough material, about 5 yards, and it is enough for all three projects. I've never made anything like this before and it's not too bad. I'm not much into home dec and hate making Halloween costumes, but something like this has a meaningful purpose which will be appreciated for several years.

My only issue with the project? The fabric is treated and has a special finish which makes it very stiff. Maneuvering 5 yards of stiff fabric while sewing seams is a feat in itself LOL. Check out the massive yardage on my kitchen table. Hopefully, I'll be able to get a picture of the tree stand cover when it's done.

More later. I'm getting back into some garment sewing! Yeah, baby!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Meet Jake!

Here he is. This is *THE* one! We took a long drive out to the breeder on Thursday and definitively selected him from the litters. He's a Devon Rex, low allergenic, short/wavy fur, huge ears, big eyes, known for their wonderful temperment and desire for human companionship. He was snuggling right up on my chest and neck, and in the pic he's cozying up with DD#2.

We can't wait to take him home. I need a soft, fuzzy, and warm computer and sewing companion. DD#2 wants a pillow and homework companion. The only thing I can definitely say is that he will be loved by all. We are SO looking forward to his arrival in about 3 weeks. It's been two years since our last cat died of old age, and we miss having a fuzzy, friendly, loving cat in our house. Over the next three weeks, guess what I'll be doing! Yep, securing all the threads and everything else that little kitties love to play with in a sewing room.

There is a story behind all of this as well. About 20 years ago, DH and I went to a cat show and picked up three business/cattery cards. DH was cleaning out some stuff about two weeks ago, found those three cards and showed them to me. The first two cards were the two catteries related one of our cats that died 4 years ago. One was the cattery of his mother, the other of his father. The third card was simply one we picked up because we found the breed interesting, but there are so many different breeds at the shows. What was breed/breeder on the card? The Devon Rex! And the owners of that cattery 20 years ago sold a cat (for breeding purposes) to our current breeder and helped her get started. It's really a weird coincidence, but really, I believe very few things are coincidence. It was simply part of the "master" plan--it was meant to be.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Jake and happy sewing! Especially if you own any furry or feathery helpful, loving critters in your home.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

This one's for Hayley!

Several months ago I wrote about how my MIL was in a serious car accident fracturing a vertebrae in her neck. She underwent surgery, had some complications, recovered from them, went into a rehab home, then a nursing home, and is now back home almost fully recuperated. She has a neck brace and can't drive until she gets it off, but is getting situated very nicely. She is approaching 90, looks and acts not a day over 60, and is rarin' to go to get back into her volunteer work. Her office desk is stacked with paperwork for her to help her clients. Her recovery is truly a testament to the human spirit, immense personal drive, and positive attitude.

Anyway, she's downsizing her home and asked if DH and I could come over and look at things we might want. Well, I said yes to everything LOL. She has some really nice things and some of our furniture has seen better days. To top it off, here's the really good part, she has a Sears Kenmore 158 series machine from some time between 1975-1980. It's in a cabinet that looks like a small table. Today I polished the entire cabinet with Liquid Gold cleaner and also cleaned the metal exterior of any dust (which wasn't much) that accumulated when it was in storage inside the cabinet. Tomorrow I'm taking it in for service and oiling, new needles, new bobbins, and a zipper foot. She didn't have the accessory box, nor the manual, but that's okay. I'm downloading the manual off the Internet.

I checked the reviews for the Kenmore 158 series of machines at PR and found many fantastic reviews, which is why I'm very excited about this sewing machine. It has all the necessary features for a beginning sewer. Of course, that's not me, but that is why I'm so happy about it. I'm going to teach my friend's daughter how to sew, and she'll be able to borrow this machine for a while until she decides what she would like in a new sewing machine. She'll go back and forth between my computerized Janome and the vintage mechanical Kenmore. I'm particularly pleased because the Kenmore will not overwhelm her. We're talking a solid, sturdy machine with straight and zigzag stitching. Nothing fancy, but just enough features for a beginner.

As she goes back and forth between the two machines, she'll learn about the different bobbin styles, drop in vs. the kind that goes underneath inserted sideways in the bobbin case, using the knobs of a mechanical vs. the buttons of a computerized, the "fancy" touches of a computerized machine, as well as the ease of making a buttonhole on an up-to-date machine.

Gosh, I'm "sew" excited about this. And when she eventually gets a new machine, this vintage Kenmore will be coming back home to me :) . I'm not in any rush because my machine stash is growing. Holding at four with my sewing machine, serger, coverstitch, and embroidery machine. This will make number 5. What is that saying, "A girl can never have too many shoes"??? The fact is, a girl can never have too many machines :) !!!

So this post is for Hayley! When the machine comes back, I'll do a little video clip of it and include it in a future blog post. Then off to her house it goes :) .

And BTW, make sure you visit Erica's blog to check out her beautiful DK dress if you haven't seen it already. And those shoes? I love them! What a match for the dress.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Recent Projects

I asked in a previous post where does time go. It flies by, and yet it seems like I have nothing to show for it. What I didn't mention is how totally unexpected things can happen that can befuddle, bewilder, and leave a person (that would be me ;) !) actually shocked and confused. Kind of like walking into a wall. Yeah, friendships can do that to a person.

So, in order to forget the negativity of the situation, I'm reconnecting with my projects. I need feel-good sewing and have something to show for it. So I refocused my much needed attention on sending in my PR Top 10 dress by the date it absolutely needed to be shipped, made a quickie skirt in 45 minutes with a leftover remnant from my "Mini" maxi dress, embroidered and stitched up my great nephew's baby quilt that's been sitting around for 4 months at least, put the final two embroidery lines on DD#1's tennis jacket, and am working on a quickie summer top that maybe will be worn once during the rest of the summer. We have to get at least one more day in the 70's after today.

So here they are in no particular order:

The baby quilt made from Minky and cotton flannel

The quickie skirt I stitched up yesterday and wore today:

The quickie top still a work in progress--I'm futzing with the placement of the straps and will add the facing. I plan on making it short too. Sure hope it doesn't look like a potato sack on me like it does on my DTD.

DD#1's RTW jacket with the last two lines of embroidery for her high school tennis career (She finally got the No. 1 singles spot she's always wanted AND was voted in as Captain.) What a royal pain it is to make sure alignment is as close to spot-on as possible.

Sewing truly is my feel-good-about-the-world activity. It makes the stars all seem like they're in alignment and makes *most* things right.

On my last post about kiddie sewing machines, I wanted to make a clarification. My friend and I did not know each other well when she bought this machine for her daughter. She did not know I did any type of sewing at all. That is why she did not ask for my help. She simply was buying what she thought was a decent machine for her daughter, a beginning sewer.

Peg mentioned the Janome Sew Mini. That would have been a much better option. The reviews for it make it seem like a nice little machine. However, I think the caveat of this machine is it doesn't make buttonholes? So I still couldn't recommend a machine like that to a newbie sewer. It would make for a nice, portable convenient backup though.

Overall, my point was if pattern companies were going to allow their names to be placed on a beginner sewing machine, make sure it's a quality machine from a quality/reputable company. It certainly doesn't need a bunch of bells and whistles, but it needs good basic features found on regular, full-sized machines. And we all know that a good, basic machine CAN be purchased for about $100. But this $70 toy machine was no bargain. Peg, had a very good point--don't shoot them all down before trying them. However, it would be hard for me to shoot down a Janome ;) . I love my Janome machines.
Good night, and happy sewing!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Waste of $70

There's a line in the movie, "Back to the Future", where Doc Brown says something like this to Marty McFly:

"Do you know what this means, Future Boy??? It means that this damn machine doesn't work!!!"

Translation for my friend's daughter:

"Do you know what this means, Hailey? It means that this darn machine is made to turn off aspiring sewists before they even start!"

Thus, a Waste of $70.

Okay. Where am I going with this? I'll tell you. It's Saturday night and I'm drinking some wonderful blueberry wine and sitting down at my friend's daughter's "kiddie" sewing machine. It's one of those beginner child sewing machines, the kind that no company has a right to market. Yeah, I'm being a bit harsh, but it's the truth.

My friend has little knowledge of sewing and bought this machine for her daughter who expressed an interest in sewing. She didn't know anything about machines and bought this for her daughter. It was probably marketed as a toy? I don't know. Most likely with a price tag between $50 and $80, which is a waste of consumer money. It's basically about preying on unsuspecting consumers like my friend with no or very little sewing knowledge. Companies who sell these machines should be ashamed of themselves.

Why? Because the aggravation they cause is likely to turn off all but the extremely motivated, young, inspired sewist.

Consider the snippet of a video I made for her. Notice the wine glass stem behind the machine. Boy was I sure glad I had a glass of wine before test driving this machine. My laughter masked some harsh language LOL.

My "Beginner" sewing machine video snippet

Everything about this machine screams cheap. From the knobs and dials, the flimsy plastic components, the lack of power and the ridiculous option of using batteries. What? No component box? Kids leave "extras" all over the place. There was no thread spindle on the machine, no AC Adaptor, likely where kids leave accessories. (For my kids, that might be in the couch!). I know they're in Hailey's room because her mom keeps an impeccable house, unlike mine LOL. So I'm not worried about where they are, they are in order. But the average kid will lose several of the accessories before they even get going on the machine.

Stitch quality? Well, it's what I expected from the machine. The upper thread stitch was actually okay. The bobbin thread was irregular and uneven. The needle type? Who knows. Where was the manual? With the accessories I'm sure.

Do you know who I feel sorry for?

1. My friend and others like her. She was duped by the company who sold this machine. She didn't know and was an unsuspecting consumer. *** ETA...FYI--My friend bought this BEFORE we became friends. Just to clarify that. She had the best of intentions as we all do but I'm sure the box looked nice. Kind of like how my husband will see an informercial and think we should buy product X. It almost always performs way better on TV LOL.

2. Simplicity. I like Simplicity patterns. Always have. And they're name is stamped in large letters on the front of this machine.

Who do I want to yell at?

1. The marketing director who allowed the Simplicity name to be placed on this machine. It does not bode well for the company have their name advertised on this kiddie machine. A better idea would be to team up with a well-known, reliable sewing machine company and market a quality machine to youthful sewers.

2. Simplicity (and other companies) who allows this to happen. Please Simplicity, get these machines off the market! There is a better way.

Moral of the story or the purpose of this post?

We want to encourage young sewists from the get-go, not discourage them at every twist and turn.

And these, my dear readers, are my Monday morning ramblings.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Where Does the Time Go?

Honestly, I don't know! Can someone help me get it back?

First, it was back-to-school shopping. With four kids, each one has to be taken separately, at least two days for each child. Taking all of them, even only two is of no joy to me. They're much more enjoyable one-on-one. It's about appreciating uniqueness, not thinking about how I'd like to send them to some third-world country so they can understand about squabbling. Really, if they're going to squabble and fight, it better be about worthwhile like lack of food or shelter.

And let's talk about my wallet. Not only do I have no time, I have no money. Our public school went to uniforms this year. The BOE calls it a "standardized dress code". Whatever. It means buying all four kids totally brand new wardrobes.

Even with that, shirts, skirts, and pants all need to be hemmed. The shirts can't hit past mid-behind, the pants can't touch the floor, the skirts and shorts have to be at the knee cap. Not what I call enjoyable sewing.

So how about sports. Call me a chauffer. That really is what I am, but get no tip. "Take me here." "Take me there." "Come pick me up." "I need to be dropped off." Then it's fundraising. DD#2's softball team is requiring each set if parents to come up with $200 in sponsorships. So I'm dressing up every day for the next week going all over the place praying that some businesses will provide sponsorships for her team. There IS a reason why I switched out of Marketing when I was in college. I hate sales and I hate selling. Especially during these tough economic times.

I still have to beat the deadline for the PR Top 10 Contest and send my dress in. It has to be mailed tomorrow. Where's the box for mailing? I don't know. The dress was just dry cleaned though so at least that is done.

I want to sew! My Coverstitch has only taken baby steps. Haven't even had time to really get into it and try some new things with it.

This is the second week of school and I have yet to have a "free" day to accomplish some sewing that has value to me, like making a dress, pants, skirt, or coat. My bathing suit! The one I started in May or June? It's still being worked on! I'll finish it for Christmas LOL.

And blogging, don't get me started. I'm scared to look at the blogs I have subscribed to and the ones I plan on subscribing to. My blog is so boring too! First, the look is stale. The content is abominable 'cuz I haven't done much sewing lately. And no sewing means gives me a very cranky frame of mind. Hence, this blog post today. It's just a lot of complaints. And I'm sparing everyone my biggest gripe for the week.

Happy sewing to you all! Some of us have to have some fun ;) !!