Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Providential Timing

Some time ago, I posted somewhere about my frustration with my serger.  I thought it was on the blog, but a crawl through the last couple of years of posts didn't turn up anything, so I either posted it somewhere else...like Stitcher's Guild...or it was longer ago than I thought (more likely).

I had gotten it seriously serviced back in early 2014.  It had some dull knives, which were replaced, a dinged up throat plate, which was also replaced, and I think one of the loopers was slightly bent.

It purred when I got home with it.  But on of the first projects I sewed was my Epic Trench Coat...and some of the seams that I ran through the serger were really bulky.  I remember that there were some klunky noises coming from it as it labored through those seams and...something happened and it never quite ran perfectly after that.  I should have taken it back to the local repair guy, but, you  know, it wasn't awful and I just kept sewing....

Time passed and it got to the point that the knives were chewing the fabric...especially knits. It looked like lint/thread was getting down between the upper knife and the housing and pushing it slightly out so that the knives weren't aligning right and when I cleaned it all out it perked up and was running ok...or at least tolerable...again. But the problem kept recurring; I had to keep stopping to clean it out.  Cut threads would even just bypass the knife and get sewn into the seam, which caused all kinds of weird things. I wondered if the knife wasn't properly set, or if it had gotten knocked loose or some such thing, because I'd never had that problem before. 

But recently it was getting bad again, and cleaning out the knife didn't seem to make a big difference.  I mean, the seams were dragging going through, which was distorting them and making for ugly sewing.  I realized that the problem was actually cutting into my enjoyment of sewing, even though it wasn't cutting fabric well.  My productivity ground to a halt.

Then a week or so ago, I serged the head off a pin that had been buried in the gathered middle-of-three layers I was serging on a Hot Patterns Fast and Fabulous Lastrada T.  I was sewing very slowy, because it wasn't cutting at all well anyway, and didn't even realize that's what I'd hit until I found the headless pin in the gathers.  That pushed it over the edge.  I tried some sewing the next day (Saturday the 13th) but it was horrible.   My local sewing repair guy retired a couple of years ago, and the nearest reputable repair folks are an hour and a halfish away.  Getting my serger repaired was going to be a serious undertaking.  Late in the afternoon, I finally commented to my Sweet Babbo that the serger needed to go into the shop.  I even admitted to the possibility of getting another one...this one is over 30 years old.  'Then I would have a backup,' I said, as I headed to the computer and logged in to check the weather.

I didn't even mean to click on Facebook, but for some reason I did.  Lo and behold, a friend who lives in the same hour-and-a-half distant town had posted a serger for sale.  Reconditioned, from the same reputable folks that I need to take my limping one to.  She'd just not used it as much as she thought she would.

She posted it exactly seven minutes before I logged on.

Y'all, that's what I call Providential timing. My Sweet Babbo agreed so I messaged her immediately and got the machine today when they came to town for an appointment.

It doesn't fit the serger table I  have (I can't pull the extension up; see the tiled background photos for how my old serger snuggled up in there),  I'm going to have to get used to the noise of the differential feed (my old faithful was branded New Home...and it was the last generation before DF was standard.  I *could* have gotten DF in 1989...for an extra hundred bucks...).  Got it scooted right to the edge so I can have a thread catcher bag hanging off the table but...IT SEWS.  It'll definitely do for a backup. 

Now I just have to find the time to drive Old Faithful to the west side of the state to get her restored... and make me some time to sew some stuff for the closet!

Monday, June 01, 2020

Time for some 'Random'....A Stream-of-Conciousness Ramble...

I have struggled with this for days.  Y'all know that I try to keep the blogs pretty much free from anything that smacks of politics or opinions...I steer clear of most current affairs. I want this to be a safe, kinda fun place.

I have found myself alienated by people who hop on a bandwagon and proclaim loudly against beliefs I hold dear...because they are coming down hard on an extreme representation of it but don't realize that their vitriol isn't tempered enough not to hit folks who hold a similar, but not identical, viewpoint.  Painting with a very wide brush, they pretty much slap it on any one who doesn't follow their line of thinking.  And I have been slapped with that brush by folks on both sides of the spectrum, so no one has the high ground there.  In short, I have repeatedly been sorely disappointed by folks I thought well of...and I don't want to be guilty of the same sort of thing.  So I keep my opinions off the internet as much as possible.

But sometimes...a radical departure from the norm is all that will suit.  There was the day I walked out of a church service...not because I disagreed, but because I just couldn't deal.   Walking out of church was just something I could not imagine myself doing...yet I did it.

So maybe this is the same sort of thing.

When I was a kid, I read a book in a Reader's Digest Condensed volume (I was reading those in, like, 4th grade), set in, I think, a European country in the 30's or 40's...I don't remember much about it at all, but I do remember that the main character was, at one point in the story, a young boy. He was Jewish, and one incident related some pretty ugly antisemitism aimed at him.  I didn't understand it at my age...he hadn't done anything, and what folks were calling him had no basis.  I remember asking my mom about it, and she tried to explain prejudice to me.  I heard her, but it didn't make sense.  Why should it matter?  But, I grew up in the very non-diverse agricultural Midwest and such things were just not part of my world.  It never made sense.

I could understand cultural differences; there were culture issues even amongst people with the same skin tone.  But a difference in culture shouldn't mean a difference in the value of a person....although it could mean that someone could offend, or be offended, by something that embodied an entirely different concept to another.  There was one phrase I grew up with, which meant 'to be honest', that I learned at a much later date had an entirely different connotation to people of color.  I could identify two different non-racial bases for that phrase, both embedded in the culture I grew up in, but the person who pointed it out to me wouldn't hear anything other than a racist statement in it. Any attempt to point out that it could possibly have come from somewhere else only made the matter worse as the person believed that such statements were cover ups.  Nope.  I had never associated the phrase with people at all.  But that wouldn't matter if someone heard it as a racial statement.  So I learned not to say it anymore.

I saw the social media posts last week the same as everyone and...if you clicked through on the link above, you'll know what I mean when I say that my visceral reaction was much the same as listening to the account of the partial-birth abortion.  I was nauseated.  No one should die in such a cold-blooded manner.  No one.  It's not right, it's not fair, and it should never, ever happen.  This wasn't a case of a quick reaction to a situation, or a heat-of-the-moment mistake or anything else. It was a murder and it was there on my newsfeed.  It made me angry, that such things could...and did...happen.

But beyond that,  I read stories and saw posts and realized that this wasn't unusual...it was just publicized.  And I got angry again.  I have friends of many ethnic groups; my kids have friends of all colors.  We have a multi-ethnic staff at church...co workers, pastors, choir members, solid citizens all of them.  Young men and women who are gifted and talented...amazing people...whose skin is darker than mine. 

Any one of whom could end up accused of something just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I mean, taking a walk in the neighborhood?  Are you kidding me?  Presumed guilty?  Just because of their skin tone?  That is wrong, wrong, wrong.

And I was angry and nauseated again.  I wanted to make the people who only saw skin tone.... get a clue, go away, leave them alone, get a life, learn the lesson...SOMETHING.  But I didn't know if I could really say anything...is there anything I could say that wouldn't be condescending or patronizing?  That wouldn't hit the cultural triggers and sound differently than I meant it?

I don't know.  I honestly don't know.  I have that social awkward thing going on that usually means I say the wrong thing anyway.

But I believe in the power of prayer...and I can pray.  Pray that the crazy stops.  Pray that change happens...that our law enforcement roots out the individuals that abuse their position.  Pray that awareness comes to those fear-filled folks who are too quick to assume the worst of someone they really don't know.  Pray that NO ONE has to endure the humiliation of being judged or treated with disrespect.

So...I don't know if sharing that was a good thing or not.  I just know that this time, I couldn't keep my opinion entirely off the 'net...

Sunday, May 17, 2020

On the Cutting Table...

You may have noticed that bodacious number under 'Fabric In' for this year on the sidebar.

I can legitimately claim that 12 yards were purchased for sewing facemasks; I am slowly whittling that down...but the rest represents a lot of wishful thinking.

One of the pieces that I bought early in the year was a printed knit from Gorgeous Fabrics.  I can't just make a plain ol' T shirt out of it; I think the impact would get lost.  It needs to be a part of something that will set it off...then, if I have any left, maybe I'll make a sleeveless t or something.

I pondered and I pondered...but the pattern that kept coming to mind was
Vogue 9108, the view with the full back (not the criss cross straps):

I read the reviews, thought it over, read the reviews again, pondered a bit, and then finally went looking through the stash to see if I had anything that would work with that print.

I think I found enough:

The print 'reads' as light in intensity, for all that the colors in it are bright; I have purple knit that matches the bit of purple in the print and it could work, but I think it would fight the print for attention.  The gray is  more on the right intensity level, I think.  Then the stripe and a bit of blue on the bottom; I've got both a hot pink and a green ribbon; I'll play with it when I get there and see what looks the best.

I think I am just so weary of cranking out masks...and I haven't even made a fraction of what some folks have done...that I'm ready for something a little bit weird and a whole lot fun.  My only hesitation is that all of that rayon knit could possibly be heavy and droopy. 

If I can just mix a little fun sewing in amongst the masks, I think I will enjoy it all a whole lot more.

And maybe I would quit wandering into temptation on those fabric sites...lol.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

A little hand sewing...

What little sewing time I have managed to find lately has been consumed with mask making...like many of my sewing buddies.  But I'm about to hit a wall and do some selfish sewing...if I can squeeze it in, lol.

But I did do a very small little project this evening...that needs a bit of backstory.

Oh, back before Christmas, I started seeing some social media advertising for a series about Jesus and his followers.  At first, I glanced at the still shots and thought it looked rather cheesy.  But a bit later someone mentioned that this series was done by the same folks who made a short video that came out a few Christmases back called 'The Shepherd'   I had watched it, and then rewatched it the next Christmas...it was well done and moving.  So I got curious.

I began watching the 'making of' videos...and found them to be really intriguing.  But when I watched The Miracle of 'The Miracle of the Fish' something shifted.  I saw the heart behind the the stories...and I ordered the DVD set.  Now, it is possible to watch them via the app for free, but I felt like if I were going to consume the product I needed some skin in the game, so to speak.

We watched the series during Holy Week, starting on Palm Sunday and finishing on Easter.

Those videos are Really Good.

I ordered a set of the DVD's for my mom for Mother's Day (she's already received them, so that's no spoiler...Happy Mother's Day., Mom, Love you)...and My Sweet Babboo, The Flute Player and I all ordered T shirts.  And we 'Paid it Forward' to help season 2.  That's how impressed we were.

Now, my hubby and my daughter ordered the logo shirts...the circle of fish around the title...but I had been struck by another design.  There is a scene in which Peter protests when Jesus calls Matthew...saying, 'This is different!'...and Jesus looks at Peter and replies, 'Get used to 'different'.'

That moment of dialog stuck with me...so I ordered the shirt that read 'Get used to different'.

But...when I got it...I realized that, without context, it could be taken for a comment on the current craziness....and that wasn't the idea behind it at all.There is a little printing on the left sleeve that reads 'The Chosen', but it's not very obvious.

I wanted some...context...for the statement.

My solution was to dig up some scrap knit bits and add the stylized fish from the series logo, handsewn in quasi-Alabama-Chanin-style, lol.

I'm pretty pleased with the result.

So...maybe that will help.

I mean, it's just a little embellishment on a T shirt, but, hey, it's something...lol.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Comment testing/ trouble shooting

This is weird, and I'm not doing it just to get some comments....I am having problems replying to comments on my blogs.  For some reason, when I read ANY blog post on either of my blogs, while in Firefox,  I have the 'sign in' button on the upper right...but if I click it, I go straight to the page listing all my blog posts, which shows me obviously signed in.  If I'm in Chrome, the public pages clearly show me signed in, so this is a firefox issue somehow not recognizing me.

But, I cannot comment on any posts...or reply to any comments...if I am reading in Firefox.  The comment widget doesn't recognize that I am signed in and it doesn't give me an option to sign in.  I don't know how many times I have entered my reply,  telling it to comment as my Google account, and clicked 'publish', seen the 'publishing' message and then...nothing. The comment is simply gone.

If I shut everything down and open it up in Chrome, it works fine.

I can even comment on other blogger blogs while reading in Firefox, as me, no problem. Other blog's comment widgets know who I am. It's just my own that are giving me this problem.

So here's my question:  can ANYONE comment here if you are using firefox?  And if you can't, can you bop over to Chrome and let me know?

I dunno if I can get anywhere with tech support, but if I can do as much problem-isolating as possible, maybe we can find a simple solution.

OR...has anyone else encountered this issue?  What did you do about it?

Thanks for any help!

ETA two weeks later:  Well, something updated somewhere and now Firefox recognizes me.  So all is well again.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Just for fun...a little wishing...

When all the  sewing is rote mask making, and the carb loading makes sewing for my wardrobe a depressing thought;  sometimes a little fantasy is not out of place.  Earlier this week, Janice posted one of her  delightful travel wardrobes, and lurking in the 'in the bag' slide was this fabulous scarf:
Image of Salvatore Ferragamo ScarvesFerragamo Scarf


It's as expensive as a Hermes scarf, so it's something I can only drool over but...wouldn't that make a lovely wardrobe?  Dark gray (or after looking at the way Janice used it...is it navy?) for the winter neutral, white for the summer neutral, and those lovely shades of greyed blue  w/ brown.  Oh, I'd be tempted...if I thought a nearly $400 scarf was a wise investment purchase for accident prone me.

Maybe I'll just build the wardrobe some day...with that for inspiration, even if I don't actually own it.

At the rate the carb calories are piling up in quarantine...I may need to start sewing anyway.

Why is it that cocooning always brings out the cravings for the carby comfort food? LOL. It's not bad for a couple of snow days, but...this is too long to indulge.

I wonder how hard it would be to find those shades of blue.... ;-)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Thoughts on Mass Mask-Making

I thought I would post a little follow up to yesterday's tutorial; when I sat down to sew yesterday I had made all of the elastic-loop masks but had only made my trial mask w/ ties; I had a stack of the tie masks to make  so I made the first one and photographed it step-by-step so I could get it up, since an out-of-town friend had requested pictures of the process.

Then I worked on the stack I had cut out.

I will say, straight up, that the elastic loop mask is a LOT faster to make than the bound mask.  I actually timed my pressing of the bindings and found that it took 6.25 minutes just to press the pair of ties needed for one mask.  Now, as I mentioned, if I could find my Clover Bias Tape Maker I could probably cut that in at least half, but that puppy has gone into hiding and I have not yet been able to unearth it (I don't make a lot of bindings...who KNOWS when I last used it).  So, six minutes of pressing the ties, plus my probably over-achiever pressing of the pleats in the bound version really added to the overall time it took to make them.   I just quickly eyeballed the pleats on the elastic-loop masks. I did have a couple that just did NOT want to fold; ended up applying the tailors clapper to more than one to beat them into submission, lol.  It worked...sort of. Then I had trouble getting one of the pre-bound masks to fold evenly; I folded and pressed it and it didn't work so I  unfolded and pressed it flat and refolded and pressed...about three times, I think , and could NOT get it to pleat at all evenly....it was kind of a desperation move when I thought about using templates.  But that trick made such nice, even pleats that I used that on the rest...and that took a lot longer than eyeballing it would have done.  However, I didn't have to press-and-repeat on any masks that didn't work out.  It was one-and-done on each of them, even if it did take longer.  ( I'm thinking the ones that didn't cooperate...on both versions of the mask...probably had one element that was cut off  grain and was fighting the fold).  I don't know if the templates would have worked very well on the elastic loop version, though, due to the bulky seams.  But I didn't try...just plowed my way through the non-cooperative ones on that set because it didn't occur to me to try the templates.

I finished up the last of the ones I had cut all the fabric for with just barely enough time to run them through the washer and dryer (actually, I was about 10 minutes late getting them to church).  And I'm glad I did, because I discovered some things about the finished products that I wouldn't have known otherwise.

The first thing was that all the beautiful pleating just went away.  Oh, the ones that I'd used the templates on were still evenly pleated, which was good,  and they could be pulled taut so that the pleats kind of re-formed, but basically the pleats just looked like tucks.  They would have to have been pressed again to lie flat and, well, I was more than out of time.  I still think using the templates was worth doing, though, because they were even.  The ones I eyeballed...well, they might have been a little, um, not so even, lol.

But the big thing that surprised me was the difference in the pinchy bits.  I'd used twist ties for the pinchy bit in two of them, and pipe cleaners in the rest.  The pipe cleaners downright balled up in the laundry...the twist ties stayed flat.   And, the pipe cleaners held moisture and that area was still fairly damp when the rest of the mask was dry (and I was hovering over the dryer waiting to pull them out the moment they were dry).  But the biggest problem w/ the pipe cleaners is that the wire is sharp.  I'd trimmed the ends on several before sewing them down...they were bent ever-so-slightly and I was afraid they'd poke through the fabric.  But there were two of them that I pulled out of the dryer in which the wire end of the pipe cleaner had poked all the way through the fabric.  I got the wire nippers again and cut it off, but there was no pokey end at all on the twist ties.

So I have been converted to using twist ties going forward.

But, the thing that I was afraid of happening in the wash...the ties getting all tangled...didn't happen.  So that was a relief.  Course, I had a very small load of 23 masks; if I were washing 8 times that number that might have been a different story.

I meant to take a picture of the masks before I hauled them off to their destination, but, being as I was already late at that point, I forgot.  So I will post a picture of my sample mask, made from scraps left from a pair of shorts I made for The Artist the summer before he entered 6th grade.  So yeah, like, 20 years ago.  There was some real attic funk going on with that fabric, so that's why I had to wash everything, lol.  I couldn't make some poor volunteer inhale that 'cooked in a plastic bin in the hot attic for 20 years' smell.

If you just see it from your peripheral vision, it looks like a giant open mouth.  Not what I had intended.  But that's a terrific metaphor for my life, lol.

The Princess tells me that our local hospital will be requesting mask donations soon.  So I ordered some not-too-awfully expensive fabric to make masks to donate there.  Cutting masks from yardage is so much faster than cutting it out of scraps...and I can do it one task  per evening, in small batches.  There won't be a quick deadline for this one. I will probably stick with the bound and ties style because, again, there's no elastic to be had, and I seem to get along better with it, even if it does take longer.  I do want to make clear that neither mask is really superior to the other; they will both do the same job.  They each have pros and cons; so if you are looking to make a mask you may prefer something different than I use and that's ok.  Everyone does things differently and, y'know, it's like...some folks want to take the simplest route and get on the freeway, even if it may not be the shortest in miles, while others get the heebie jeebies to drive even a mile out of the way and so take the shorter state highway through the little towns.  They both get to the same place and they both enjoy their chosen journey so... you do you.

But I may just buy myself another bias tape thingy, since I pulled up the Amazon page to link and all.  Which will guarantee that the original one will show up within the week,lol.