Friday, September 24, 2010

Ten Things About Me

Carolyn was nominated for the Beautiful Blogger award and even though she no longer believes in passing along blogger awards, she suggested to her readers that she would love to know 10 things about them that they haven't shared before. So Carolyn, here goes:

Ten things about me:

1. I know how to do Gregg shorthand and still use it sometimes. My first job out of high school was as a stenographer/secretary. I worked for the Los Angeles Planning Department in the Environmental Impact Report Section for the Director.

2. I didn't go to college right out of high school. I worked (see #1) and married my high school sweetheart. Then after the divorce I went to college and got a BS in Communications, Public Relations. My goal was to graduate before I turned 30 and made it by one month.

3. I used to play the accordion. I took lessons for two years and was really pretty good. My parents were going to give me either dance or music lessons. Unfortunately it was Milton Mann's Accordion Studio that came knocking on the door first. I lost interest at puberty, who wants a squeeze box on your newly developed breasts?

4. I'm addicted to Diet Pepsi. When I started Metabolism Miracle I quit cold turkey. For nine month I did without, but with the stress over my MIL, I'm back to a 3-4 can a day habit. My favorite used to be TAB until they changed the formula and added aspartame.

5. I love Mexican food. I could eat it everyday. Cheese enchiladas are a particular favorite of mine. It's hard to make the food too spicy for me. I like my salsa hot.

6. I'm a daddy's girl. I think my dad is the most wonderful person in the whole world. I think every girl should have that one person who makes them feel very loved and special.

7. I lived with my husband for over 10 years and dated for 2 years before that before we finally tied the knot. On August 15th this year we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. I think I love him more today than I did when we were younger. I love having a partner that respects me for being a strong, independent woman.

8. I can't sleep without my favorite pillow. It's an ancient down pillow that I hug and snuggle. Without it, I wake up sore and stiff. I took the pillow with me when I spent two weeks in Italy and when I went to New York City for a week and it goes anywhere I go if I won't be coming home at night. Luckily I can stuff it into any tiny little place in my suitcase and then it fluffs right back up once I unpack it.

9. I can type 90 words per minute. I used to type 120 words per minute but I don't type for 8 hours a day and haven't for a long, long time, so I've slowed down. I make more mistakes now because of my arthritis, but I try to be careful about my spelling and will always fix mistakes once I spot them.

10. I don't text. I don't know how to text. I don't want people to bother me with texts. I don't want to pay to get texting on my phone and I don't want a text keyboard on my phone. I want people to call me and actual engage in a conversation with me. I will, however, spend hours on chatting with sewing friends in the chat room.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just One More Machine

Obviously I don't need any more sewing machines, but I just couldn't resist this one. It's a beautiful Morse 4400. Once I clean it up it's going to be drop dead gorgeous. I've already oiled it and cleaned it a bit and adjusted the tensions. It sews beautifully on all the stitches and it's really fast on full speed. I'm thinking even faster than my TOL Bernina 170 computerized machine.

Unfortunately, while doing some minor maintenance on the machine, I discovered this beauty had a BIG problem. This photo is of the cam gear that makes all the stitches. I didn't know it had any plastic nylon parts or I might have thought twice about buying it. At the moment, the crack isn't causing any problems with the decorator stitches, but once it goes into regular use, I'm afraid it will just crumble. I only spent $45 on it, but I sure would like to keep using it. It's so pretty and really fun to sew with when I feel the need for speed!

If you have any idea where I could find a replacement gear I would really appreciate hearing about it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fall Pants Small Pants

After losing 30 pounds I got rid of all my clothes that no longer fit. That included just about all my pants. I did buy a few things for the summer, but it's almost time to start wearing long pants again. Unfortunately my weight loss has come to a stand still, luckily I haven't gained anything back either. In another two weeks I'll be joining a gym, but first I have to have an estate sale and get my MILs house rented. In all my free time (yea, right!) I've decided that I could squeeze in sewing pants for me.

Like a lot of my plus-sized sewing friends, I find that Burda has the best fitting pants with the short front crotch and the long back crotch. This pattern is from the Fall 2005 Burda Plus WOF. Because my time is rather limited, I decided to sew up a pair of pull-on pants. These are straight legged and the front seam can be eliminated. At least for the first trial pair for fitting purposes. With the darts in front (hidden in the seam) and in the back, they should be rather close fitting around my hips and waist.

In one of the fashion shots of these pants, the leg looks very wide. However, on an actual plus-sized person I think they won't look quite so wide. At least that's what I'm hoping will be the case.

In this fashion photo of the pants, the leg doesn't look bad at all. After measuring it looks like I can wear a size 24 (European petite size 48, not an American size 24) after I remove the excess hip/thigh. If I don't, they'll look like jodpurs instead of a nice pair of slacks. Burda size 24 equals a size 20 petite in American sizing. I don't plan to use a stretch fabric, so wish me luck on the fit. I hope to get them cut out sometime this weekend and then sewn next week.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A New Herd

Summertime is my favorite because I get lots of time off to sew. Except this summer it was all about taking care of my mother-in-law. With very little sewing going on (I forgot to mention the 7 costume dresses I made for Steven's play but they don't count because it wasn't fun sewing), I started to go into withdrawl. I'm sure we've all experienced this some time or another. What I usually do is buy fabric when this happens. Well, I really don't need any fabric. I mean I REALLY don't need any more fabric! Besides, I didn't have time to go shopping and Bob was around much too much for package deliveries. So what's a girl to do?

I don't know if you noticed (how could you not?) but on, there has been all sorts of noise about vintage machines. Of course I had to see what all the fuss was about. Now I'm hooked. You see it all started when I first saw someone, I think it was Donna Hodgson, post a picture of a Singer 500a Rocketeer on PR. It was love at first sight. Then I learned that they were from 1961! I had to have one for my birthday because you see, I'm from 1961 too, July 6, 1961 to be exact. (I missed blogging on my birthday because we were with my MIL.) When discussing this with a sewing friend, she decided to gift me a Singer 500a Rocketeer that needed some TLC. Yea! She sent it to me in time for the machine and my 49th birthday. She also included lots of accessories and goodies to go along with it. I immediately became discouraged because I couldn't get the brown stitch lever to budge, not one micro-meter. But while waiting to figure out how to fix it, I found another lovely Rocketeer 500a on Craigslist in the art deco cabinet for $125. All I had to do is drive a 4-hour round trip to pick it up. I don't think I would have gotten it except it had the cool cabinet and I had a morning to myself for the drive. I'm so glad I did go get it because it was working almost perfectly and clean as a whistle inside and out. It'll be my go-to machine when I want to use a Rocketeer.

During one of my stays with my MIL, I spent lots of time on the computer looking up information on vintage machines. This included browsing on Craigslist. I just about fell out of my chair when I found another Rocketeer 500a for $35 in a very nice vintage Copenhagen cabinet and they lived only two miles from my MIL. I drove down right away and paid the money and picked it up the next day. It's the machine I used to sew my niece's little outfit from my last post. It also came with lots of accessories and attachments. Now I own three Singer Rocketeer 500a machines. Aren't you jealous? I've got them all working perfectly now and plan to use them for my students when I either open a studio or start teaching again at the Parks and Recreation in a city closer to home. I really would like to find one more.

These next two machines are Japan made Super Delux Zigzag machines. The beautiful green one has a badge from Revere (the copper bottom pan company) and is dated from the late 1950's. The real surprise was that I found it in my own garage! I didn't even know it was there. Well, that's not true. It belonged to my husband's grandmother. For the last 14 years it has been sitting on the floor of my garage near the door where water came in. It sat in a puddle for the rainy season each year. I knew it was a bucket of rust and wasn't interested in it. Well, I went to throw it away to make room for my MILs things but decided to look at it first. It was a beautiful immaculate machine in a lovely shade of two-tone greens, and it didn't really need anything more than cleaning and a good oiling. Even the belt was in good working condition. I only replaced the bobbin tire and it needs some work on the pressure foot lever because it doesn't want to stay up. That's it, a machine I had all along, and it was free! It has a carrying box that needs to be recovered and it didn't come with any attachments, but it was free!

The pretty pink Japan made Kenmore machine from the late 1950's was another wonderful Craigslist find. I had been cleaning out my house anticipating having to bring some of my MILs things home. I had a lot of things to go to Goodwill so I decided to have a yard sale and I made $80. The pink machine was only a 25 minute drive and cost $50, less than I earned at my yard sale, and it came in the really cool Martha Washington cabinet. It came with lots of attachments too. It was sad when I brought it home because during the drive home the cabinet wire rubbed against the top and gave it a pretty bad scar but I think I can cover it up with some model paint. I just have to look for the light pink color at the hobby shop.

As if this wasn't enough machines, after my MIL has passed, I was given her Singer 221-1 featherweight machine. I've never really been a fan of these tiny machines, but this one means a lot to me because it was hers. It's the only machine she's ever sewn on and for that, I'll treasure it forever. It has the box with attachments and the card table. The table is in bad shape but the box looks pretty nice for its age and I know it was well used.

Last, but not least, is the Singer 66 Redeye treadle machine. I posted about this machine before, so I won't bore you with all the details. It's mine from my MIL's estate as well. So there you have it, how I went from owning one very loved Bernina 170 sewing machine to a herd of eight. I can't wait to start teaching classes so that my students can feel the power of a real sewing machine, not those plastic throw-away machines they are making nowadays and beginning students always seem to buy. Anyone want to come over and sew with me?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Summer Sewing

At the end of the summer last year, one of my co-workers asked me if I would sew a bathing suit for her. Keep in mind I hate sewing for other people. I always feel such serious anxiety when I even think about sewing for others. However, I said yes. Since it was the end of summer and school had already started and she said she was in no hurry, I put it off. That is until June this year rolled around and school was out and she wanted to go swimming.

What she wanted me to do was make another suit like the one she had worn out. To do this I took apart her old suit and copied it exactly. I spent hours and hours on just the pattern and ripping apart the old suit. However, I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I think it looks as good as the old one, if not better.

I don't know why blogger wants to turn some of my pictures sideways but if you turn your head to the side you can see how good the bottoms turned out. The original had this same belt and belt straps. I used the original suit's D-rings for this suit. The only real problem I had was sewing those straps down to the suit. However, mine looks just as good as the ones did on the professionally sewn suit, so I was happy. Too bad you can't see them better in the photo.

I couldn't figure out how to put in the bra cups I bought for this suit, so I made a pattern from the old suit for this part as well and just sewed in the old bra cups. I think they look silly in this color but she said they don't show through so I'm not going to worry about. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I certainly charged her enough for it. :-)

I didn't sew anything else that month because at the end of June is when we found out that my Mother-in-Law was sick and she went into the hospital for treatment for chronic diarrhea and then again for chemo treatments for the leukemia. However at the end of July, while Bob and I were taking care of her between hospital stays, I left my husband alone with his mom and took my son and I on a week-long stay at my dad's timeshare condo in the mountains. After all, it had already been scheduled and our son deserved his summer too. We took one of his friends with us.

If you look closely in the photo, you can see lots of sewing stuff laying around. While my son and his friend had lots of fun running around in the woods and hanging out at the club house, my sister and I sewed. I made two dresses, one for myself and one for my niece. I can't find a picture of the dress I made for my niece, but it was McCall's 3672 in a pretty pink pin-whale corduroy.

I made this dress for me. (Sorry about the goofy smile) It's the cover dress from the 5/2008 issue of Ottobre Women's pattern magazine. The dress was designed to use a woven, but I made it from a poly/lycra knit I bought at Michael Levine's Loft for $2/pound. It's really a wild print and the details of the dress are completely lost in it. I cut out a size 48 and had to take it in at the sides and the center back for a more fitted look. With a FBA I could probably use the same size pattern with a woven. I wish I had used the same sleeve pattern they did on the cover. These are almost too short for me but are nice for the summer.

During my MIL's final days I had a lot of free time on my hands. I had been spending time on Craigslist searching to add to my recent sewing machine collection, more on that later, so I had a machine with me that I had just picked up. I also had some fabric in my car along with sewing supplies that I carried for my beginning sewing classes that I teach. I whipped this dress up for my niece. It's the same dress pattern as the pink corduroy one except that I cut it shorter and added a ruffle at the neck edge and hemline. To do the ruffle, I used the ruffler that came with the CL machine.

I'm very happy with the way the ruffles turned out using the ruffler. If you have one that will fit your machine, you should try it. I don't think I'll ever go back to using the thread pulling method again.

The pants pattern was found a thrift store, another thing I did to keep myself busy while staying at my MILs house. Don't worry, I didn't leave her alone. By that time we had hired 24-hour caregivers so that we could sleep and my husband could go back to work. I was off for the summer and my dad was staying with our son.

As always, you can click on the pictures to see them full size to get all the pretty details. It's time to sew me some fall clothes. Since losing weight, I don't have any pants that will be appropriate for the cooler weather. Watch for pants muslins coming soon.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rest In Peace

On August 22 my mother-in-law passed away. Having already watched the dying process in my own dear mother didn't make seeing this once strong and vibrant woman disappear little by little any easier. I am so grateful for having known her. I feel so lucky to have spent so much time with her at the end and she kept her enthusiasm for life right through to the end while not fighting the dying process. Our family seems so much smaller now that she's gone. She has certainly left a hole in our hearts that will take time to heal.

Thank you everyone for your loving posts. It's very comforting to know that so many of you were keeping us in your hearts and your prayers. With everything that has happened to our family, we have realized how precious life is. We all hold each other a bit tighter and enjoy the moments we have together even more. We really see that in the end, it's not what possessions you have or how much money you have, it's how much you love and are loved. Please take the time to let those important in your life know that you love them.