Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Mentors and mending

Learning to sew - we all did it and are still doing it. Can you ever learn enough? My friends and I made clothing for troll dolls when we were tweens. We helped each other out. Cutting, sewing, and dressing them was fun. It was never a chore. I was even allowed to use my mother's sewing machine! Later, I took home ec in junior high school because my mother made me. That included sewing an outfit using a pattern, from cutting to wearing. Mrs. Esther Batchelder was the teacher and she was encouraging and tough. But I must have learned a little something. I can still use a pattern and make clothing.

As time went on, I turned to hand embroidery and away from traditional sewing. I would sew with DMC floss nearly every day. My sister, Patsy, was my idol and my mentor when it came to embroidery. She would tell me the name of stitches and I'd look them up, learn them, and incorporate them in my pictures. It was like painting. 

Then came children and making clothing. My SIL and a friend (Jan) both sewed. I was grateful to be able to lean on them. Jan turned me on to Home Sew and all the fun sample packages you could get from them. I learned how to do facings without using extra fabric (a shortcut where you turn the existing fabric under and stitch it directly), put in sleeves, and space out buttonholes. Another friend, Sandy, was a pretty experienced sewer. She did a lot of fancy gathering and pleating, and her work was immaculate. She was a mentor by example.

Clotilde, who sadly passed away in 2011, was a mentor from afar. She had the quintessential sewing catalog. I received hers and the one from Home Sew back before the internet was even a gleam in the ether's eye. I took a class from her locally and we talked for some time about our mutual friends and interests. She made everything seem so simple. She wasn't just a mentor, she was a celebrity in my eyes.

The fabric store where I took her seminar, Fabrics Unique, is where I bought my Bernina and often lots of fabric. Two women who worked there were more than helpful, and don't even know they were my mentors. They made sewing seem normal. Not a lot of friends of mine were sewing. I didn't meet that large community until I worked for Sewing.com!  Susan and Betty were able to point me in the right direction many times. I looked up to them and still do.

So many mentors, most of whom don't even know it. No one lives in a vacuum. Part of the mission of this site is to pass along any sewing information we can. That's why it says "steal this stuff" on the front page of the blog. Pass it on - show a friend how to do a button. It's a start!

Now to the mending thing. I made a blanket for my dog to hop on on our bed. Over the years, it's been through a lot and from time to time, I take it off the bed and add patches. I chose today to do that again and lawdy me, it's starting to look like a quilt made out of the patch fabric - fabric with stones all over it. My dog doesn't care, but I do. The various levels of fading of the rock fabric shows the age and how many times the quilt has been washed. Lucky dog, eh?



Go sew something. It's a gloomy day in VA and I'm going back to the machine. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Still sewing to beat the band

Masks, do I make them? Oh yes, I do. Lots of them. The good news is that this is a self-supporting endeavor, so I'm able to donate quite a few. I'm open to donation, so let me know if you need masks. 


On another note, Anna is having another baby (today, I think?) and I started her baby quilt. It's going to be made of Strawberry Shortcake printed quilt squares that are pieced together with strawberry fabric.

At the end of July, I couldn't sew a single mask. I needed to make a change. So, I got started. I have a long way to go, but I think it's going to be right cute! 

Another thing I've been doing is tie dying fabrics for mask backs. I had 30 yards of a really nice white cotton for the backings. Plus, I was buying all sorts of fabric for backs. So, with a little Rit Dye, some hot water, soap, and salt, boom! Red tie dye. I did black as well, but didn't leave the fabric in long enough, so I have a lovely gray tie dye. And yes, I use this fabric every single day.

And then there was Isias. The storm blew in with rain and wind, and we were ready. We prepped the deck, made sure we had fuel for our (not whole house) generator, and in general, did what we do before hurricanes. 
Nothing blew away and we had few limbs to pick up the next day. The plants are back on the railing now and all the furniture is back where it lives. 


The world continues to go crazy all around and still I sew. My coffee cup that says I sew to stay sane knows me well.


I hope you are remaining safe and finding your way through this pandemic, crazy behavior all over the world, and just the unprecedented weirdness of it all. Pick up needle and thread. You'll be glad you did. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The one where Ivan put on his masks in his very own way

Remember how that commercial went with the ladies and social media? The wall? That's not how it's done. That's not how any of this is done!

Well, that is what I was reminded of when I saw my buddy, Ivan, modeling his new masks. First, I laughed and then felt really warm and fuzzy about the whole thing. His parents loan him to me to try out my masks for children and I think he enjoyed receiving these. By the way, that sticker on his shirt was on the envelope in which I sent the masks.


Oh, Alicia? It looks like "Master" is still a thing! LOL https://classroom.synonym.com/how-to-address-an-envelope-to-a-young-child-12082670.html

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Still sewing masks every day - you can too!

Mask making is now my job and I'm fine with that.

I have a bag for masks to be donated, a box for a large job I'm working on that will be primarily a barter situation, and have moved move of my items for sale to Etsy.  Our governor has issued a mandatory mask order as of this Friday. I'd love to give one to anyone who needs it, but can only sew but so many in a day. I've lost count of the number I've given away, but it looks like I've sewn over 600 for eBay. I'm sending my sister in Virginia Beach one in a day or so, but shhhhhh, she doesn't know it.

I encourage all of you who can sew masks to do so. As long as the fabric is breathable (preferably cotton!), you can de-stash. I've used up so much of my older fabrics. I have Strawberry Shortcake fabric from 1980 that I'm cutting as we speak. In fact, I ordered a clear ruler so I can see what I'm cutting without my handy cardboard window template.


I've been cutting an old (but pristine) Smurfs sheet using the same window template method. I think I'll get more mileage out of the older fabrics if I use the clear ruler. I can be a little more precise with the rotary cutter.

Go sew. Be safe. Stay well. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The state of fabric and notions

Have you tried to buy fabric lately? How about thread? It's almost as rare as toilet paper, but not quite. You can order from Joann and pick up curb-side, but you'll be lucky if they're not out of the fabric you want. You can go to Walmart to get thread, if they have any left.

Did any of us ever think that there would be "shortages" of our sewing items?

If you go to eBay, you'll see some fabric for amazingly inflated prices. After a couple of weeks, sellers got wise to the mask makers and started offering 1/4-yard pieces along with fat quarters that have been cut and are selling for way more than the initial yard it came from was. It's gouging and taking advantage. The fabric shouldn't be so expensive. Is it opportunistic and capitalistic to buy and then sell at high, really high prices? I have really mixed feelings about it.

I have purchased from these sellers because they have the fabric that mask buyers want. They also have the fabric that people who have masks donated to them want. I take the money made from masks and put it back into mask materials.

Even thread - thread! - is getting hard to find online, but I now have a stash of white thread and the variegated threads I like.

I've gone through most of my novelty fabrics, some of which are 30-40 years old. People love the old stuff - Smurfs, Sponge Bob, M&Ms, etc. I find they also have a hankering for dogs and other animals on their fabric. It's been interesting to see what people like.

I'm working on a large order for a local nonprofit and it's filled with not novelty fabric masks.

Anyway, get to sewing everyone! The world needs us and they need us to teach them how to do this for themselves. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Corona Donna

Like others who sew, I've been sewing to beat the band during this pandemic lock down. I personally am one of those at risk people - age and health stuff. Overall, I'm in good health, but I do have diabetes. I get groceries delivered and go out rarely. The newest "thing" is that my husband retired last week, so now life is changing again. Does change ever end? No, and thank goodness for that.

I've sewn literally hundreds of masks - donated, for payment with in-kind donation for buyer so they get money instead (nonprofit people get it), and for sale. I've given them in bulk to people outfitting their people for work and for free to a person wanting one for her child. I am an ongoing give to an emergency vet clinic. My daughter has had me make them for her friends. It's a self-supporting project in the end and the novelty fabrics I have had since the 90s are coming in handy. I don't need to save them any longer. Maybe this is what I was saving them for.

People who sew are heroes right now. It's a beautiful thing to give a mask to a person who needs one. I've posted earlier with the link to the pattern I adapted for myself. Actually, what I do now barely resembles any pattern I've seen, but it works! I've lengthened the ear straps a couple of times per suggestion of wearers. Here are a few:

Pride masks are super popular to sell. I've given away several. 

This is one of my early favorites. I called it the Annie. Now we're up to the Annie II (a different check) and people love it.

I had a little bit of this M&M fabric and used it up fairly quickly. 

My favorite brains fabric. I love this one.

David Byrne of Talking Heads can appreciate this one. 

Dexter anyone?

I bought Sponge Bob fabric eons ago. I'm using it all now!

German Shepherds. Why not?

Again, I've had Steelers fabric forever. Time to use it up. I have the black Steelers fabric too, but haven't used it for masks yet. 

I love this funky print. 

Candy bars are a good thing, right?

The Smurfs fabric is from the 80s. I had a couple of sheets that I had saved. Again, time to use it up. My husband made a custom cutting template for me so I can ensure each mask has Smurfs on it and not just background stuff. 

Newer M&Ms fabric. 

Sorry, Anna, I'm using the strawberry fabric I bought for your quilt since they're very in right now. I'll get you more!

Subtle skulls, barbed wire, and other cute prints. 

NY Yankees. Whew, this fabric was expensive, but as I'm selling these, I should make that money back. 

Alicia sent me some animal fabric. This is her pink/red cat faces that I made today. 

I highly encourage anyone who sews to make a mask or three. The elastic is not impossible to find anymore, but theme fabrics are super expensive on Etsy and eBay now. Sellers know what they have and they're charging a lot. My personal novelty fabric stash is disappearing and I'm fine with that!

I imported my Corona Donna posts and will no longer be using that blog.

Now, go sew something!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

How the world has changed

Some places (towns, states, etc.) have decided it's time to open up. I'm not on board, but am cautiously optimistic.

On a complementary note, this is the after. The before was my life for 64 years, almost 65. I really am torn about what comes next. There is one hope that is looking forward to concerts, events, markets, and all those crowded people places again. Just like they were before. I don't think that is going to happen. Another school of thought says we'll come to a new normal that we can all live with. And 20 bajillion thoughts in between.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens with the communities doing the opening. There are so many protests going on and though many people think these people are nuts for wanting an open society right now, you have to admire their persistence and stick-to-it-ness. They truly believe.

I don't know what I believe. I just don't.