Friday, December 11, 2020

A December Stroll...

 It's been too long since I managed to get a post up over here; fortunately, the 'Random' in the name means I don't have to stick strictly to sewing...

Which is a good thing. The only thing I've made since the last post are more face masks.  I even took down the 'year to date' stats because I'd so lost track of what I bought and what I sewed for the masks that it wasn't even funny.  I'm just going to start clean next year.

But...well... randomness...

When we first moved to The Rocket City back in 1980, I was shocked at how few houses had Christmas lights up.  Christmas lights were a THING in central Indiana, where I grew up, and  it just seemed so bleak to be in a city that had so few.  I remember getting excited driving through Indianapolis on our way to the farm at Christmas in the early 80's and seeing so many houses with lights.  There was even a farmer near my folks who put a Christmas star on his grain auger system every year.

Fortunately, over the years, lights have become more common in our corner of the South.

Ten years or so after we moved down, we began a semi-regular tradition and sometime in December, we would load the kids into the minivan, put a cassette tape (remember those?) of Christmas music in and go driving around town, looking for Christmas lights.  We would usually find some, but it still was not the level I remembered as a kid back in the Hoosier state.  

We're finally just about there, lol.

Tonight was a warm night, so My Sweet Babboo, the Flute Player and I went for an evening stroll in the neighborhood.  We walked about three and a half miles and saw lights on pretty much every block.

We commented on the different styles and kinds of lights and how different folks used them.
I have 15,000 steps on my Fitbit, lol.
But, all in all, it only took about an hour and a half.
About what we used to spend driving around town when the kids were small.
We did observe several cars that appeared to be...driving around looking at lights.

At one point, some folks in a golf cart all lit up with Christmas lights went by us a couple of times.

I took a picture, but the light was bad and it didn't turn out. 

There were about four folks in the golf cart, just buzzing around the neighborhood.  What a hoot!
I confess, it would make going up the hills a lot easier...
But all in all, I think I prefer walking around for 90 minutes to driving.
I didn't take a picture of our house tonight, but here's one from a pre-dawn walk a couple of weeks ago.  Not as fancy as some we saw tonight, but it works for us.


Walking the neighborhood was a quite safe, socially distant activity and it was a perfect night to do it.

I hope you can find safe, socially distant ways to celebrate the season! It's going to be different, but, you know, every Christmas I wonder how we could back off from the crazy a bit and just have a simple, heartfelt celebration.  Looks like we will be able to do that this year....and, maybe next year we will have turned the corner on this thing and we will be able to enjoy all the usual traditions.  Or maybe we will have learned which ones are truly important and which ones are just...busyness.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

A little practical sewing...maybe

 Back in the day, when my kids were babies, I had a stack of Curity gauze diapers.  They were great, useful for everything from spit up rags to mopping up various fluids ejected from baby to actually being pinned on as diapers, with plastic covers, to increase the discomfort of soiled diapers and encourage the move to the potty and big kid undies.  And, because they were so soft, 3 of my 4 kids actually used them as security blankets for the first couple of years  (One of my kids, who shall be nameless, was HORRIFIED to learn recently that the well-remembered security blanket was actually a diaper that had matter how much I assured said child that it had been completely washed and sterilized and was no worse for the wear).

I still have about 5 or six old, fraying Curity diapers that I use as pressing cloths.  They work great.

So, my standard gift for new moms was a package of cloth, preferably gauze, diapers.  When I could no longer find Curity diapers at the local retail outlets, I went with the Gerber diapers that were shaped a little differently and were the birds-eye weave.

Then, a few months back, with Covid restrictions and all, I decided to just order several packages of cloth diapers, as I had several near and dear who were having babies. I went looking for the Curity diapers, thinking I could find them online. ebay, for about $250/dozen.  Apparently they are no longer being manufactured.

So sad.

So I looked for the Gerber diapers and found them and all was well...until I read the reviews.  I was shocked to see that the cloth diapers I had been cheerfully buying in sealed packages and giving to friends were little better than cheesecloth. Bad review after bad review mentioned that these were nothing like the old Curity diapers.

So...what was one to do? 

I ended up buying a 15 yard bolt of 36" wide 'diaper fabric'...a cotton birdseye weave that is supposed to be good for diapers.

I measured my Curity diapers and found that they were 20" x 40" I cut  5 40" pieces and split them in half lengthwise so I had 10 18" x 40" rectangles and ran them through the serger.  I wove the serger tails in and added a drop of Fray Check to the corners to hopefully keep them from unravelling.

Then I washed them twice.

The gold standard...and the slightly smaller reproduction.  They did shrink a bit, the next batch will have to be cut a little longer, if it turns out to be a problem.


One of them had a spot that apparently had a flaw in it, because there was a 3/8" diameter hole frayed out in it.  I darned the hole, but it was rough and scratchy and not suitable for a diaper and I threw it into my rag bag.  But I now have 9 roughly-Curity-sized-and-shaped birdseye weave diapers for product testing.

Folded and stacked for use.



And I just so happen to have a handy product tester recently added to the family...

Number 1 Grandson, born to the Princess and Prince Charming on 11/10/20.  He lives just a fuzz under 2 miles away, but in Covid season it might as well be out of state.  So far all we've had are porch peeks and photos.

But, this too shall pass.  And we'll see how the home crafted diapers hold up. If they prove as useful and versatile as the the good ol' Curity diapers...well, I've got about 9 1/2 yards left and I can make a stack of diapers for gifting.  If not...well, it will be kitchen towels, lol.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Fifteen Years Ago Today...

 ...Sew Random made its debut into the blogsphere, and I became a sewing blogger, posting about sewing costumes for a production of 'The Gospel According to Scrooge'....something we were going to do regularly but, life happened, and we have not performed that since. Maybe in the next few years, when we finish the updates to the theater that is in the old high school we've turned into our church.

I blogged just about every day for two and a half years ( seems like it should have been longer than that), then started a second blog to discuss aspects of life that didn't really fit on a sewing blog.  So I kinda quit the daily posts.  I blogged about different projects, school productions, church productions, and the choir wardrobe.

I haven't sewn much this year.  We haven't had choir since March 15. 
I've bought fabric for costumes...future costumes...because I found last year that the fabric may not be readily available when it's needed.  I bought fabric for masks and just got so drug down making them that I've only managed to sew about half of it up so far.  And anytime I start to undertake a garment project I feel guilty because...masks...

I have typed and erased a whole bunch of stuff here.  In a world where content is everything, I've had almost none this year.

And are here, reading my little non-sewing lament.  In a little safe place where politics isn't some kind of litmus test for friendship.  

I am unspeakably grateful for everyone who has stopped by, who has left a comment, who has encouraged me with their own blog posts...

Thank you.

Gratuitous picture of the aging sewing assistant, making sure I don't move from the desk.  She's been around for 11 of the 15 years...

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Refashion Challenge: Results

 I think I'm happy.

Tuesday's post has all the pics of the original top and where it came from, but if you don't want to click through, here's what I started with (not sure if I mentioned it, but the tag said it was a 3XL):  

And, if you want the reveal before the 'what I did''s the shirt, remade:

You have to look to see the godets I added to the side from a gray-and-black stripe remnant that I 'd kept in the scrap box, but you can sure see the difference it makes in the drape of the shirt.  That stripe knit was a pricey one, actually, that I bought at one of the Sewing Expos I went to...I want to say it was Indianapolis in 2014, but that might not be right.  I'd made a t-shirt out of it, that has disappeared (no idea how a t shirt could disappear, but I haven't seen it in at least a couple of years).  I had a good bit left over, so I paired it up with an abstract print and used the stripe on the sleeves and neckband.  The print was royal blue, black white and gray and I loved the way the stripes played with the print.  But, over the years, the gray in the print changed from gray to a pinky-mauve color (I have another, entirely different print that did the same thing; now instead of grayscale it looks sepia).  The pink kinda clashed w/ the royal blue in the print and it definitely looked odd with the stripe in the sleeves and neckband; it was still in the closet but I just didn't wear it.

So, with that backstory in mind, we return to the weird oversized shirt.  I used my Vogue 9057 pattern for the base of the alterations.  After unstitching the sideseams and removing the sleeves,  I folded the shirt in half lengthwise.  I could only cut one side at a time because the hem-to-hem length was longer than my table, so I cut the front first, laying the pattern with the center front along the fold and the intersection between the neckline and the shoulder seam at the shoulder seam/ neckline of the shirt.   Where the waist shaping on the sideseam began to increase just below the waist, I laid my long ruler there to connect that line with the bottom edge of the shirt.  Whacked it down, then carefully moved the shirt so that I could cut the back the same way.  I cut something like 13" off of the shoulder seam, so it was enough to cut some cap sleeves from the scraps at the shoulder area...if I put the former shoulder seam down the center of the sleeves.

Then I carefully folded my little remnant of stripe and managed to get two godets that were 11" wide at the bottom and 15" tall.  I didn't do any scientific calculations...that was just the size I could get from the piece I had.

I did that after writing Tuesday's post, and then I pondered what to do. I thought it would just look like I stuck extra fabric in it if I didn't do something besides just the godets...and I remembered the 'rule of three' from my days costuming school shows. Basically, the rule of three is that if you use an element in an outfit/ garment, you should use it in three places so that it looks like a part of the garment.  But I was down to mere scraps of the knit...what could I do?

Then I remembered the top with the striped sleeves and neckband that didn't work anymore.  I hustled up to the closet and took the sleeves and the neckband off before I went to bed (really late, lol).  The faded remnants of the top went into the trash bin.  RIP.

I thought I'd just put the sleeves on the new top...they were from the same Vogue pattern.  But as I thought about what I could do while at work yesterday I realized that the long sleeves and the long godets would kind of compete.  Maybe it would be better to use the cap sleeves.  Maybe  there was enough scraps left to get a couple of strips to use as a band on the bottom of the sleeves...bonus, then I wouldn't have to hem the sleeves.  Hm.  And what about the neckband?   I didn't even know if the neckband that I pulled off of the faded shirt would fit or if I would need to add some length to it.

I came home, ate dinner, walked with my hubby, and then pondered what I could do and how I could do it.   I finally measured the bottom of the cap sleeves I'd cut, then measured the scraps and found that I could get two strips 1 1/2" wide long enough to go around the bottom of the sleeves, and I matched up the neckband to the neckline of the shirt and saw that I would only have to stretch the recycled neckband a little bit to make it work. would pull that really wide neckline into a better size for me. The only caveat was that I realized I would have to hand sew the neckband on; I just layered it behind the original finished neckline of the top (it had a wrap-around binding).  Took a bit to sew it on, but now I have a double neckline that suits my narrow shoulders better than the original; not only did the stretched neckband pull it in slightly, but it extends about 3/8" beyond the original finished edge so it fills it in a bit.

From that point, it was just a matter of sewing it together and hemming the godets.  I actually finished last night and wore it today.

I am sad that I wasn't able to keep the pockets but they would have looked odd in the godet seam.  It's comfy and swishy and fun to wear.  And the button back is cool. serger is still not cutting as nicely as I would like. It's not horrible...but it's not clean as it should be, either.  We may have to make another trip west in the next couple of weeks.  Sigh.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

A Refashion Challenge...

 At the end of last week, a large bag was circulated around the admin office at church.  Someone had unearthed a bag w/ some past conference merch T-shirts...all in 2 & 3 XL sizes.  There weren't many, and we were told we could have whatever struck our fancy.

I dug through the bag, whilst one of my co-workers shook her head, 'I don't think you're going to find anything in there...they're all Plus sizes'

'Oh, I'm not looking for a top that fits, ' I commented.  'I'm looking for raw material.'

She was shocked.  'You mean you're going to cut it up?'


I found a shirt from 2016 that I had thought was kinda cute...but it was only in plus sizes back then, and it was kinda odd shaped.

I brought it home and took some pics...

 First, I tried it on, just to see what I had to work with.  And I will say, when I pulled it over my head, I thought, 'This shirt has been worn before'...slight remnants of a fragrance, and a bit of perspiration.  Then I realized what the shirts in the bag likely were...shirts that had been modeled in a photo shoot and then couldn't be sold.

 No matter.  I just ran it through the laundry after the pics, lol.

It's tunic length... just a hair longer than my shorts...and very wide in the shoulders and upper body, but almost snug through the thighs.  I suppose I could just roll with the oversized vibe but it would annoy the stew outta me.

You can see the shape laid out on the bed; it looks like it's straight, which is odd, considering how it fits like an inverted triangle.

The back is the part I liked the best.  It's a pleat, with buttons, so it looks like it buttons up the back.  

All the kids who are in town came by the house last night and we all sat around the front porch, socially distanced, and visited.  I put the time to good use and opened the side seams, removed the pockets and took off the sleeeves.  I have a couple of ideas of what I can do...we'll see what develops.

I am definitely keeping the back button detail, lol.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

She's Back...

 And we are very glad.  

It was $1 for parts ((a new upper knife) and $110  for labor, but she's all cleaned, tuned, tweaked and sharp and ready to go.  She's running a little more growly than in the old days, but, hey, she's 30 years old and she's still quieter than the new backup.  And I'm glad I now have a backup sewing machine and a back up serger that I can take to church for sewing days and still have my sewing set up at home.

On another note, I've had to turn off comments on some posts; that really shouldn't matter much because a) I only get about  3 actual comments a month and b) the posts are from the first of the year so they're not likely to get actual comments anyway.  But I've begun to be afflicted with really offensive R-rated comments.  I've got comment moderation turned on, so they're not getting any actual air play, but I have to look at them to moderate and I am not happy.  I finally noticed last week that they seemed to be recurring on the same two or three  12 Month wardrobe posts, so I turned off the comments for those posts.  We'll see if that stops the influx.  I have the comment moderation on, plus the capcha, so someone is working hard to leave yuckky stuff for no good purpose; it's not going to make it to public eyes. But maybe if I throw a leaf on the path the way will be blocked, lol.  We'll see.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

...and a milestone that I *didn't* miss...a non-sewing post...

 On August 16, 1980, My Sweet Babboo and I pledged our lives and love to each other in front of a church full of friends and family.

It was a cold, rainy day in central Indiana, but it was the beginning of an adventure.

Back in January, we were looking at Adventures...did we want to do a train ride across Canada?  An Alaskan cruise?  What would be a big enough commemoration?


About two weeks ago we looked at each other and said, 'We have to do SOMETHING.'

So we decided to go to our favorite getaway spot about an hour and a half away.  We were first there for our 30th anniversary, so it was a 10 year celebration for that, too.  It's a perfect place to just enjoy the quiet.  And it's remote enough that we weren't worried about...catching anything.  We probably saw about ten people all weekend.

 It's right on the edge of a bluff on Sand Mountain, overlooking the Tennessee River.   


 The weather was perfect; relatively low humidity, but still warm enough that we could enjoy the swimming pool, nearly exclusively, but there were enough clouds for a  pretty sunset.

We waited until about 9:30 Monday night and then went out to look at the night sky, well coated with bug repellent.  If I had had a tripod, the sky pictures would have been much better.  There were no moon and no clouds; the stars were breathtaking.  There aren't a lot of  places dark enough to see the Milky Way any more...but it was on full display for us.  But the best I could do w/ my camera was the Big Dipper...or Ursa Major, depending on your school of thought.  I was amazed that I got anything at all.  I don't know if it will show up on everyone's device, but I can see it...



 The Lodge where we stayed has a reputation for fine dining.  We had a 3 course dinner on Sunday, in honor of our anniversary.  It was fabulous...but my hubby's camera seems to have eaten our photos; he couldn't pull them off.  Fortunately, we took a selfie with mine after we ate.  Don't we look well fed? LOL.


It was just two days away, but it was enough to kinda relax a little bit.  We have plans for another getaway...a conference that was supposed to have happened the weekend after Easter and was rescheduled for Mid-September...but who knows if we will actually get to go.  Hoping...

Oh, I guess there is a little sewing news to report.  On the way back, I jokingly said something about dropping our luggage off, picking up my serger and driving it an hour and a half in the other direction for repair.  My Sweet Babboo was in the mood for a drive, so we did.  Now I'm waiting on the service department to give me a call with an estimate for repair.  I will be glad to get it back.  The new backup is...ok...but I miss my old friend.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

I missed a milestone...

I just happened to notice that, according to Blogger's count, this is post number 2030 on Sew Random.

I totally missed that 2000 milestone...(counts back).. it looks like it was the first post-vacation trip post back in September.   Wow, I really hadn't been paying attention to that counter.

But I did finish another item for the closet...back in, oh, February of last year, I cut out a red shell top, thinking I might use it for either SWAP or the 12 months/12 outfits wardrobe.  But it didn't end up being needed and, to tell the truth, I forgot about it.  Found it Friday and sewed it up. Only a hanger shot at the moment...and it looks like a sack on the hanger.  But it's viscose challis and it's as light as air.

I had about 2 yards;  I folded one selvedge in just wide enough to cut the front and back on the same fold so the uncut remnant ran the length of the yardage.  I squared it up, fringed the ends and narrow hemmed the long edges and now I have a lightweight red scarf.  I liked the fabric so much I bought another fairly good sized chunk for a floaty dress...someday...

But I think I need to make another batch of masks before I work on another closet item.The mandates mean everyone needs one...

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Life Update

So...remember this cutie, who was so happy in her sweet little butterfly dress that I made back in 2003?  That was a year before  I started blogging, but I did put a review up on Pattern Review for that little dress.

Well...guess what...she got engaged last night. Time flies.

I think I have another dozen or so of those butterfly appliques around somewhere...maybe I'll sew them on her wedding dress...

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Finally Finished...

And it ain't nothing to brag about, but it will be something I can throw on.

It's the Hot Patterns Fast and Fabulous LaStrada T...made from ONE YARD of ITY jersey:

I really didn't have enough fabric for the shirt, because I didn't have enough to match it up.  I didn't think it would show that much...ha ha and ha.  From the slight angle of the shirt on the hanger, the mismatch at the front is kinda not so obvious, which is encouraging; maybe if I keep moving no one will pick up on it, lol.

This is the second LaStrada I've made with a patterned fabric; the first time I didn't think at all about balancing the print and I was very sorry, because I *could* have made it look much nicer.  This one...I thought as long as I had the stripes even it would be ok.  Meh.  The teardrop shapes are not quite symmetric at the center front seam. It will bug me. 

Plus, this was the shirt that killed my serger.  It was almost dead anyway, but the pin that buried itself in the gathers finished it off.  I did take the new backup serger and  re-finish off the gathered back seam, which was AWFUL.  It helped a bit, but the distortion that happened from the dragging knife couldn't be completely atoned for.  Fortunately, 1) it really isn't horrible now, if you don't know and 2) it's in the back anyway and will likely be under a cardigan or other topper.  I will wear it and be glad for it, but it could have been better...had I had a smidge more fabric and cooperative equipment, lol.  And I thought it would be a quick project. 

But, you guys...this is just the SECOND garment I have made for myself this entire YEAR. 

That's seriously depressing. 

There are, um, reasons, I suppose.  The subpar serger being one of them; the complete and total disarray of all things sewing related in the house is another.  I'm not going into detail; but it's really detracting from my enjoyment of the craft.  And then there are all those masks...and I should make another batch; I've given away almost all of them that I made earlier.  I gained weight (didn't everyone?) while we were basically locked down in March and April; none of my patterns fit. (Back to walking and tracking calories on the Fitbit; the quarantine weight is almost gone.  This is going to be a long haul to get rid of the weight that had crept on before that; I hope I have the stamina to stick to it).

But probably the biggest issue is...I'm home almost all the time.  We had some folks at work develop the virus (my precautionary test came back negative) so after being back in the office for about six weeks we are now working from home again for at least the next week. While we did have services for the month of June, My Sweet Babboo and I still watched from home, since he has some immune system issues.  In any case...there's no choir, and that's likely not to change so long as we are in virus-avoidance mode. 

So I really don't have much demand for new clothes.  I have decided I'm going to work on straightening and sorting and...dare I say it...paring down some of the superfluous stash.  Maybe I'll make some...interesting...things that I haven't had time to make for a while. While I sew batches of masks.

If I'm really brave I will clean through the closet and do some weeding.  I might as well get rid of stuff I don't LOVE...things that were in the closet because that was a color we wore for choir and I never wear it any where else. 

Maybe I'll play around with some more of the capsule wardrobe planning tools, just for fun.  I really don't know from here. 

Maybe once my space is cleared and the recent fabric and pattern acquisitions are properly stored and I can breath again...inspiration will hit.

I can hope.

The trick is to stay off the fabric vendor sites.  I do want to support the businesses, but I honestly believe I could sew from my stash for like, from now on. 

Maybe I'll do a little sewing for my family.  Daughter number one...the expecting grandson number one in November, and daughter number two has some gaps in her closet that I could perhaps fill.  I think they're both past the 'oh, no, not MOMS SEWING' stage, lol.

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 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 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 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 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

Thursday, May 07, 2020

A little hand sewing...

What little sewing time I have managed to find lately has been consumed with mask 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 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 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

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 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 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.

EDITED 7/20/20 - I have found that the twist tie wires that I used, while fine at first, tend to break.  Going forward, I'm going to double them and see if that helps.  And discourage folks from folding them in half...

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Helping now....

The Princess told me that the local hospital has decided not to put out a call for volunteer-made facemasks at this time, so I kinda backed off of working on them.

Then we got a call from the Huntsville Dream Center, which is very closely associated with our church.  They will be using our church (which is, you'll recall, a repurposed high school building) to distribute breakfast and lunches to school kids, with the possibility of  adding hot meals for the community.  The work has been fast and furious to get the old cafeteria kitchen (which fed lunch to somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 kids back in the day) up and running to do that.

But, they have requested masks for the volunteers.

They did provide materials for the masks and I have farmed those out amongst the willing of the sewing group.  We were asked to specifically make THIS MASK, using 2 layers of quilting cotton and one layer of flannel inside, with the elastic loops for ears and adding a 6" pipe cleaner to make a pinchy bit for the bridge of the nose.  Now, there's nothing wrong with this mask, but in my playing around I had come up with a different method.

I was told that, if I were using HDC-provided materials, to use to the instructions as requested.  BUT...if I were using my own materials, then I could make them however I wanted.  The only thing was it had to be three layers thick, w/o any filter pocket.

Both versions start with 9x6 inch rectangles.  The real difference is that the mask in the linked video is turned out while the one I came up with has the edges bound and is held on with ties.  The mask in the video is sewn wrong sides together,with the elastic in between the layers, then the nose-pincher is couched to one of the long side seam allowances, then it's turned out through an opening (I left my opening in the long edge that didn't have the nose-pincher).  It's then pressed, pleated and topstitched to secure the pleating and close the opening that was left for turning.  It is relatively fast and pretty simple.

But here's what I had come up with in my earlier experimenting.

Start with the three  9x6 rectangles; you can research the layers if you want but tightly woven 100% cotton or a cotton/polyester blend is recommended; one study said 100% cotton t-shirt knit was fairly effective as a filter; if you have excess freebie promotional t's lying around (and who doesn't?) they could be cut up as well.

ALSO...from your remnants stash you probably have some actual yardage; rip 2" strips all the way across 45" fabric.  You'll need two of those strips for each mask.

The first thing to do when you get a batch cut and ready to make is to go to the ironing board and press all those strips in half lengthwise, then turn the torn edges in to meet in the middle and press again.  Then fold the whole thing in half and press it again.  Making the binding is probably the most time consuming part of the whole assembly process, but once you've got everything pressed it will go quickly.

Then, just to hold the layers together, do a quick zig zag around the outside of each stack of three rectangles.  Put the right sides out; you won't be turning this one.

It'll look like this at this point:

Now we'll pleat the masks.  You can just kind of eyeball three pleats...that's what many of the tutorials recommend.  But if you have, or can make, a small assortment of templates from manila file folders you'll have a leg up on the process.

 You can actually stack and pin the templates to make a little folding jig.

 I used the 3/8" line on the 1" template so that the pleat would be a little shorter and hopefully not get caught in the binding stitching. Same principle.
When you're done pleating it should look like this:

Now, open up the ends of two ties and pin them to the mask, securing the pleats.

 Trim off the excess  and fold the cut edge under on the  remaining tie and stitch that to secure it.  The other end is a selvedge and shouldn't ravel out. Stitch the binding along the fold line, then flip it around to the other side and edgestitch it down.  Now the pleats are secured.

Find the center of the long binding ties and the center of the mask. Pin the ties to the mask, matching those centers.  Stitch on the fold line of the binding, being careful not to catch the pleat folds.

Find the center of  your bendy bit (a 5 or 6" length of  pipe cleaner or twist tie), extend one of the seam allowances and, matching the centers, zig zag across the bendy bit for it's whole length.
After you've secured the bendy bit, flip the binding around to the other side of the mask and stitch the whole length of the tie.
(You can't tell from the pic, but I sewed that entire tie w/ no thread in the bobbin.  Oopsie.  Take two, lol)  Check to make sure you have caught all the edges, trim the threads are done!

Here's a comparison of the two mask styles I've made this weekend:

You can see that the bound mask is slightly larger than the turned-inside-out mask, because it didn't lose the width of the  seams.  To me, there are two benefits to using the bound/tied version....the first is that elastic is hard to find.  I used some 1/4" elastic I had stashed but I didn't want to exhaust my supply.  Also, I'm not sure how well the elastic will hold up under extreme washing's going to get soaked in hydrogen peroxide and washed/dried on HOT every single day until this is over.  The other benefit's a lot easier to pleat the thing if you don't have to deal with the bulky seam allowances on the short ends  Encasing the ends of the elastic meant the edges couldn't be bound; so it had to be turned-and-stitched.  The caveat to the version with the ties is that it takes a good bit more time...which would probably be less if I could find my Clover bias-tape-maker thingy instead of pressing each strip 4 times.

You can take your pick.  If I were making masks for the family, I'd probably use one of the versions that has a pocket for a filter...assuming I could still find furnace filters to cut up. But, as source after source has stated, anything is better than nothing if you use it correctly.'s the 'use it correctly' info I have found:

When it's worn, the front of the mask is contaminated.  I will say that again. THE FRONT OF THE MASK IS CONTAMINATED.  DO NOT TOUCH IT.  After wearing it, it should only be handled by the ties/ elastics and dropped straight into a disinfecting solution until it is washed/dried on hot water.  Then wash your hands.

The cotton mask is not considered a primary defense against infection.  It might help you remember to NOT touch your face and to maintain 6' separation, but it certainly will not stop any bad germs if someone coughs or even exhales straight into your face.   And if you touch it with your hands and then touch your face it will have done you no good at all.

So...there are my recommendations for a quick, sort-of-protective face mask.  If you want a serious face mask, HEREis a video on making one from a HEPA vacuum cleaner bag...but those are to be disposed of  after using, including the elastic.  And I'm wondering how long the bags are going to stay in stock, once people start cutting them up for masks.  HERE's a video for a mask w/ a pocket for a filter made from a HEPA furnace filter.  I would probably modify it a little bit to have ties instead of elastic.  In fact...that may be my next 'play around' with it mask style.  In case things really get bad in our area.

Stay safe, everyone!

Note: If you landed here looking for mask-making info, I have a follow-up post with a few more observations HERE