Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Heart Gadgets …

… especially gadgets that work! (Blogger's photo uploading over the last few days, on the other hand, not so much. Grrrr.)

This is one of Babylock's single downturn fellers. The 1/4" version, to be exact. I have all three — 1/4", 5/8", and 1". I bought these from my Babylock dealer before I ever stumbled on "the Ebay guy" and his industrial generics. (And those of you with coverstitch machines know what an enabler I've been for him ever since!)

Every so often I consider selling these fellers on Ebay or the PR Classifieds because I really don't use them. But I always stop myself and start thinking, "What if …?" Yesterday, I was very glad I've held onto them.

I was helping DS' girlfriend with some costume sewing (which explains the pink and the pacifier fabric you'll see below). We needed to make ruffles. Miles of ruffles. OK, not miles, but almost 10 yards and the thought of hemming nearly 10 yards of strips made it seem like miles. Usually I take the easy way out when making ruffles and just fold over the strip so it's doubled and no hemming is necessary. But GF had a limited amount of fabric and to get all the ruffles we needed meant we had to cut single layers of strips. And then finish the raw edge. Urgh.

Enter 1/4" downturn feller (with a chorus of Hallelujah in the background). Now I know some of you probably own and have tried various hemmer feet for your sewing machines. And most of you have cursed the day you ever bought it/them. They do work, but they are fiddly and then in the middle of a long hem, you blink, and it goes off track. I feel your pain. ;-) Not so with these fellers. They just plain work and you can blink all you want.

The feller is attached to the bed of the coverstitch machine (here, it's just laying on my sewing table, but you get the idea). The fabric is fed into the turning-under-thingie and the feed dogs move the folded edge under the needles where it gets stitched.

This is the back side, where you can see the turning under happening. (And if you look closely, you can also see the reflection of the vent on my sewing room ceiling!)

This is what the finished ruffle looks like from the top. Yes, there are two rows of stitching at the hem and it's probably not something you'd want on your finest silk blouse, but this is cheap cotton and a costume so I think it looks just fab! And really, it's not like the hem police will ever stop me to issue a citation.

And this is the underside. The raw edge is perfectly and evenly covered by the (ahem) coverstitch. 'Tis a thing o' beauty, ain't she?

After the long strip was hemmed, I ran it through my serger with its gathering foot (another gadget I love) and voila! Perfectly gathered and hemmed ruffles. Minimal effort. And one happy GF.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Errands

No sewing today, yet. After I'm done typing here, I'm going to head up to the sewing room to finally hem that last Ottobre tee I recently mostly finished, since there's no football game on tonight and I couldn't care less about the World Series. After the hem, I have to sew up yet another pillow that Dani nibbled. Well, same pillow but second nibbling. Sigh. She thinks the throw pillows are just big square doggie toys. Actually, she thinks just about anything is a doggie toy. ;-)

Today was errands and odd jobs day. I left the house early this morning for Costco and the grocery store. After coming home and putting away the haul, it was lunch and then off to the dog park with the whole family. That was nice. There were tons of dogs there today and of course I forgot the camera.

We got back from the dog park around 3 PM and the baking urge struck. I made blueberry muffins, banana nut mini muffins, and 2 batches of brownies. Most of these will be packed up for DH to take on the road this week, although you can see Quality Control has already been sampling the goods.

Speaking of DH … he's making progress on my sewing table. I don't think it will be done tonight, but maybe. He's out putting the final coat of paint on it right now. The photo below shows one coat of primer. After the paint, he'll put the shelves into the middle areas and then we've got to take the top off the current table and attach it to this one. Casters need to be attached to the legs too. If it gets too late, I'll wait until next weekend so I'm not out a cutting table completely. But those shelves are really calling to me. So close …

Keeping DH company in the garage today (and sweeping up the floor with his tail!) was Gizmo. He's doing great and it seems he's forgiven DH for the runover. You'd never know how traumatic his last two weeks were. Our neighbor who found him last week knocked on the door on Saturday to see how Gizmo was doing. She also brought us two mini loaves of pumpkin bread. What a sweet lady! I'm the one who should be bringing *her* the pumpkin bread.

My denims from Fashion Fabrics Club arrived yesterday. The brown is not as heavy as I was hoping, but it's still quite nice and will make pretty pants for the upcoming "winter." It has a subtle striping in the weave which I like. You'll probably need to click the pic to make it large enough to see the detail. The blue is a nice dark denim (but the flash is making it look lighter here), so all in all I think I fared well. It's hard buying denims from FFC since their descriptions are not always very enlightening. To say the least. ;-)

The last "errand" of the day was dinner. Blue cheese burgers requested by DH. These are waiting for the grill. Easy to make and very tasty. Mix the hamburger with ground chipotle pepper, worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, cilantro, black pepper, salt, and a bit of hot sauce. Then form into thin patties. Between pairs of patties, layer crumbled blue cheese and then squoosh the patties together. Yummm! I'm still stuffed and we ate almost 2 hours ago.

All in all a relaxing family weekend. I hope yours was good too!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Puppy Love

This was so cute that I just had to snap the pic and share it right away. All 3 pups snuggled around DS. It's a rainy day here, can you tell?

And looking at them from the other side of the sofa:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ottobre for October

These Ottobre tees are so fast and easy to sew up that it almost feels like cheating. This one is done except for the bottom hem, which I'll do later tonight. The fabric is from Lucy's Fabrics, but months and months ago and it's been sold out for a long time. Sorry.

I bound the neckline using a 1/2" double-fold binder with my coverstitch machine. Because of the bumps and basting stitches of the center front gathering, this slightly bigger binder worked better than the 3/8" binder I used on the first version, I also used brown thread on top so I didn't get away from the brown completely. ;-)

For this one, I lengthened the short sleeve pattern to 3/4 length, curved the bottom edges and then bound the edge. The end result is a quasi vent and a tiny bit of a bell shape. I like it for something different. This is another tee I won't be able to wear for a while yet, as it's still hitting 90 degrees here during the day. Blech. Enough already.

And now for an abrupt change of topic …

Below is Gizmo, our cat. He's a tough cuss and has got to be on Life #10 by now. Whatever life he's on, he is 16+ human years old and we've had him since he was a kitten. When DS#1 was a toddler and still an only child, he and I picked him out at the horse stables just down the road, where cats run amok and the stable owners are more than happy to send them off to new homes. DS named him Gizmo, after the Gremlins movie character, because he thought our then-new kitten looked like Gizmo the Gremlin.

I didn't mention it earlier because we were all a bit depressed, but DH *very accidentally* ran over Gizmo in our driveway last Saturday (just before DS#2 needed to leave for his Homecoming activities). I took DS#2 in one direction and DH and DS#1 took Gizmo to the ER vet. They both left their cellphones behind so it was a long wait until I heard an update from them.

The vet examined Gizmo and didn't find anything right away. He didn't feel any broken bones or injured internal organs. But Gizmo was very obviously hurt and limping at his hind end quite badly, although he wasn't complaining a bit. Unfortunately, further testing and x-rays were going to cost over $800 and even then, we might not find out anything. So, we decided to bring him home with some pain meds and observe him before making any big decisions.

Gizmo has always been an outside cat. His choice, no matter how much we tried to make him an indoor cat. Probably something in his horse stable genes. He has a "home base" in our garage, where there are food and water dishes and litter box. We set him up in the garage on a blanket and there he stayed for 24 hours. Sometime Sunday night, he managed to limp outside without our knowing. I'm guessing when DH was taking out the trash. Poor DH already felt bad enough.

We looked all over for him on Monday. Our property, the neighbor's property where he would sometimes go for a sneaky bite of her kitties' food, and we walked the dog path a few times. Nothing. No Gizmo. Tuesday came and went and still no Gizmo. Even though he always stayed outside, he never really went too far and we always saw him every night and every morning, for greetings and feedings. Gizmo just never went away overnight. Ever. Until Sunday.

So, we figured he was bidding his final adieu to the world and we probably wouldn't find him. As Wednesday came and went with still no Gizmo, I just knew we wouldn't see him again. He was hurt and weak when he left — how would he ever be surviving these days without food or shelter?

Thursday afternoon, our neighbor knocked on the door. As soon as I saw her, my heart sank because I just knew she was coming to tell me she had found Gizmo's body. But no! Yes, she had found Gizmo but he was most certainly not in kitty heaven. She told us he had been laying next to her back porch all morning and hadn't moved for hours.

DS and I ran over to her yard with a basket and blanket, scooped up Gizmo and carried him back home in the basket. We still had his pain meds so we immediately gave him one pill and then some water and some cat food. He vacuumed up the food immediately and was looking for more. I knew that if he was eating and drinking, he wasn't planning to off himself. So we set him back up in the garage and checked on him every hour or so. He would be on the blanket one time and off another. So he was definitely moving around.

As of today, he's very much improved. He's still limping, but only slightly. He hasn't been back outside since Thursday but he hasn't acted like he's wanted to go either. He seems to know that he needs rest and TLC. The photo above was taken just before I started writing this.

This little old guy is 100% Tough As Nails.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fully Cooked Onion

(I couldn't resist one more play on the pattern name.)

(Edited to include a new photo.)

I finished the top last night and sewed on the buttons this morning, after a 20-minute dig through my button stash to find suitable candidates. My review is here, and photos are below. I'll take a pic of me wearing the top soon. I snapped a pic of me wearing the top tonight, before I changed into my bake-blueberry-muffins clothes. I've added it below.

I really like this top and the Onion pattern. None of the other Onion patterns are calling to me yet and I have a lot of other garments in the queue, but based on my experience with this one, I definitely recommend Onion. I purchased mine at Shop Onion. The delivery from Denmark was very fast, the price and shipping reasonable, and a downloadable PDF English translation comes with the purchase. (If you're going to order, please note that Maria, the Shop Onion website owner, is on vacation until 29 October so shipping is delayed until her return.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Full Busted Onion

(I just love the name of these patterns and playing with them in my blog entry titles.)

I'm in the process of sewing up my Onion. I'm foregoing a muslin and forging ahead with the good stuff. Mostly because, truly, I have lots of good stuff and if this somehow doesn't cut it, it won't be the end of the world or even a small dent in the stash. But also because a comparison of my final pattern pieces against my TNT Ottobre tee pattern is purty darn close so I'm purty darn confident it's going to work fine.

The promised non-earth shattering FBA pics and narrative follow. Or would, if Blogger would cooperate. Grrrr. I'll come back later and update this.

* * * * *

OK, Blogger is still hiccuping, but I managed to get the pics uploaded.

This is the Onion upper bust pattern, unaltered (obviously!).

I traced that and made an FBA, resulting in the dart highlighted in yellow, below.

I then slashed from the shoulder down to the bust and rotated the horizontal dart to the shoulder, which resulted in the new dart opening highlighted in yellow, below. The new dart opening on the pattern is filled in with tissue and will be sewn as gathers onto the back shoulder seam.

Next, I added the extra width needed at the sideseam to make this piece match up to the width of my Ottobre tee, and then I laid the puzzle piece of a pattern on top of a new sheet of tracing paper and traced it, adding seam allowances too. Voila! Done. The new extra length of this upper piece will be eased into the sideseam at bust level.

You'll need to click this photo so you can see the detail in the larger version. This shows my Ottobre back pattern piece under the Onion tracing. You can see (I hope) the original Onion width, and the 2" I added. The original Onion shaping is very similar to the Ottobre, with just the overall width being different. Which is to be expected since I'm wider than the largest Onion size. ;-) (The Onion XL size in inches is 42-35-46.)

If you're going to do a similar FBA for this pattern, be sure that your results for the top bodice measure 1/2" narrower than the bottom piece at the empire seam (circled in red, below). The neckband makes up for this difference.

For the sleeve, I eyeballed it using my Ottobre sleeve pattern width as a guide. It's a knit, it's forgiving, and I was too lazy to do a "proper" sleeve adjustment. This will work fine so I'm not worried about the Alterations Police hunting me down. ;-)

When I was getting ready to write the entry earlier, this is where I had stopped. You can see that my altered upper bust pieces do hit at the proper empire area, i.e., below my (Zillie's) bust. Since Blogger wasn't cooperating, I went back upstairs and continued sewing so I'm a lot further along now. I expect to finish it tonight and post a photo or two tomorrow.

Since my Ottobre tee pattern pieces were handy, after I cut out the Onion pattern, I cut out another Ottobre tee too. I'm planning to bind the neckline with the fabric in the upper left corner but it's nowhere near as bright orange as it appears here. It's more of a duller pumpkin orange. I really wanted to bind it with brown, but I think every top I've made lately has been bound with brown, including the Onion in the works, which might be verging on Too Much. Or not, since I do love them all.

And the best news is that while I've been sewing, DH has been in the garage building me a new cutting table base, with SHELVES!! Woo hoo! I don't think it will make it into the sewing room before next weekend since it will need to be painted, but it's close and I'll just have to be a little more patient.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tracing an Onion

I'm about to leave for the weekly Friday football pre-game meal duties, but I did manage to squeeze some tracing time in this morning.

I like the lines of this top and bought the pattern, even though I could probably copy it pretty well by just morphing a TNT tee. There's nothing like the call of a new pattern, eh? Although I'm pretty sure I have learned my lesson for pants patterns!

I laid my TNT Ottobre pattern pieces over the Onion pattern sheet and could see immediately that things weren't too far off. Yes, I'd need to add width since my Otto tee is plus-sized and the Onion isn't, but it would be a straight 2" per side seam (according to my eyes and the Onion pattern measurements), so nothing too hard there. Everything else seemed to line up very well. Except the bust area for the front empire piece of the Onion. But I knew that would be the case, so I was expecting to need an FBA.

That's where I'm leaving the pattern for the moment. I've already slashed/spread for the FBA. Now I just need to rotate the resulting dart up to the shoulder seam where there are already gathers. I'll do that between meal and game time when I get home later and I'll share pics (although it's nothing complicated so it won't be earth shattering) probably later tonight or tomorrow. After the alterations, I'll sew an ungly knit muslin to test out the altered pattern.

Now it's off to the races …

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Errands and Odd Jobs

I spent a lot of time in the sewing room yesterday but I have nothing to show for it. At least nothing wearable. As planned, I did trace my TNT pants pattern onto STP (Swedish Tracing Paper) and also made pieces for the modifications I've been wanting to do. Things like different pocket opening shapes, a back yoke for jeans, and tracing off different hem widths so I can mix-n-match without dragging out the pattern tissue. I didn't hang the pattern tracings as I was initially thinking; instead I rolled them and put them into the empty bottom drawer of my pattern cabinet. My TNT Ottobre tees tracings are also rolled and I'll store them in the same place after I've made a few more over the next couple of weeks. For now, they're sitting on top of the cabinet, gently calling to me. (Soon, my pretties, very soon.)

I really wanted to put the newly traced/created yoked jeans pattern to work, but I don't have any decent denim. Really. I'm all out. Well, not all out, but the few pieces/colors I have aren't what I want to sew. So I ordered two cuts (one solid brown and the other dark denim blue) from Fashion Fabrics Club. Since I'm dealing with FFC, it will take a while before it gets here so I'll just have to be patient. I hope I love the brown because that's a color that is still going to figure prominently in my wardrobe as we move into Autumn, if not in temperature at least by calendar.

I've also decided that with or without DH (he'll be mostly out of town for the foreseeable future), I've *got* to do something about the lack of flat surfaces in my sewing room. The only places to put things that need a temporary resting area are on my cutting table and on the ironing board. I don't like things piled up on my cutting table, especially when I want it clear for cutting or tracing and it's a right pain to not have a clear ironing board when I need it, so I want to convert my sewing table to have shelves under the cutting surface, very much like Melody did. I'm really, really tired of moving my Stacks of Important Stuff from cutting table to ironing board to floor to table to board to table to floor … well, you get the picture. I long for two shelves under the cutting table. I dream of two shelves under the cutting table. I covet two shelves under the cutting table. I'd sell my firstborn for two shelves … OK, that's a little extreme, but I just can't stand it anymore. I have a $50 Home Depot birthday gift card in my wallet from my mom and I know how to use it! Now I have to come up with plans and a materials list and psych myself up to actually tear apart my sewing room even more while it gets done.

But before that, I need to clear out the mending jobs. First up will be the 4 throw pillows that belong on our family room sofas. Dani, sweet poochie that she is, has a puppy penchant for chewing zippers on throw pillows. Sigh. She's gotten all but one of them, so far. I'm going to take the easy way out and remove the remainder of those zippers and just sew the darn pillows permanently shut.

After that, I need to re-attach four beltloops to two pairs of DS' jeans. I'll have to sew in a reinforcement patch inside the jeans first since there's now only holes where the beltloops used to be. Don't ask.

And in about an hour, I'll be shuttling with DS to take his Jeep into the shop so his A/C can be worked on.

It's going to be a another busy day, so I'd better get moving.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Experiment Over. Back to Reality.

Why do I do it? I have a great pants pattern that I worked hard on to get to (near) perfection. Yet, I keep torturing myself by trying new patterns when it would be less time-consuming to just morph any style changes onto that TNT pattern. And let's face it — I don't even have that many style changes. I live in jeans and jeans-styled capris.

I guess you know where this is heading, and CAUTION … Objects In Mirror May Be Larger Than They Appear! ;-)

I traced both the Patrones and Ottobre patterns yesterday and I cut and sewed a muslin for the Patrones. The front view isn't too bad but those familiar back X-wrinkles greeted me in the mirror.

I actually contemplated altering the pattern for a while. And then I thumped myself upside the head, came to my senses and curled up with a few issues of some magazines that I've gotten behind on reading.

This is my TNT pattern. Simplicity 4068.

I've made it lots of times now. All of my alterations are actually on the pattern pieces (versus little notes to myself for later) so I can just mindlessly cut the good fabric and sew, no muslin needed. It doesn't have a back yoke like a true jeans pattern but by tomorrow, it will. My final pattern pieces are still in tissue form, sliced and diced, taped and re-taped. While I'm working on the yoke, I'm going to trace off a good "keeper" copy because this thing is GOLD and I don't want to keep fiddling with that icky tissue. I may even just hang this one so I never even have to press it flat before starting.

The Ottobre tracing is headed for the trashcan before I make myself insane. ;-) And I think I'll be listing my Patrones and a few other non-English pattern magazines on the PR Classifieds soon. There are so many other patterns on my list for which I can actually comprehend the little details that I really shouldn't frustrate myself with translating Spanish, German and Dutch sewing terms.

Which is a good thing, really, because now I can focus on some late-summer (Autumn to the rest of you) tops that have been calling to me. So that Ottobre magazine will still be getting a workout, just not in the pants sections. Oh, and there's a Onion pattern (5038) calling quite loudly too, although I may just morph the details of that onto a TNT tee pattern. I do eventually learn things from time to time. ;-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


It was March when I first mentioned this Patrones jeans pattern, noting its seemingly perfect-for-me extra thigh and caboose room. It's now October and I've finally traced it.

I also traced a capris pattern from the 02/2007 issue of Ottobre Woman (the issue with all those great tee shirts!), but not the one I have circled in that pic from March. Instead, I've traced the pair at the bottom left of that line drawing sheet because it's more jeans-like and will be easier to morph if it works. Maybe by next summer, I'll get around to the other pair of Ottobre capris.

Looking back on that March post, I see that I didn't make up anywhere close to what I wanted to try, which is always the way. Too many patterns, too little time. But hey, I did make about half of them so that's pretty good. Of course by now my want-to-make list is even longer. Sigh. If I was filthy rich, I think I'd have a staff to trace, cut & sew along with me.

After dinner tonight, I'm going to cut and sew a muslin for each of these traced patterns and compare.

Oh, I forgot to mention … I think I hate the non-English pattern magazines. I don't need the construction information but I *do* need the info for things like waistbands to cut from measurements, or recommended fabrics, etc. I'll need to study the Spanish in the Patrones a little to see if I can figure out that waistband (in centimeters no less!). Otherwise, I'll just cut a length of muslin and wing it. A waistband isn't hard to figure out, but not being able to understand other little details makes me crazy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Homecoming 2007

Here's my "baby" Alex (15-1/2) in our driveway before we headed over to his date's house:

And here's the beautiful couple:

Everything was going well, time-wise, until we pulled into Samantha's driveway and Alex said, "Uh, mom. I think I forgot something." Before the words were even out of his mouth, I realized we had left Samantha's wristlet corsage at home in our refrigerator. Oops. I dropped him and made a mad dash back to our house to pick it up. We basically live on the same road (different names as it continues through 3 zip codes), but it's a long road and about a 15-minute drive between our house and hers. I made it back before the deadline for leaving for the restaurant so all was well.

Alex, Samantha, two other couples and Samantha's parents took off for Outback Steakhouse and then Samantha's parents dropped off the teenagers at the dance venue, which is a brand new media and theater center that's part of a local community college campus. Alex says it was very nice and much better than last year's venue, which was one of the big buildings at the Florida State Fairgrounds. In previous years, the school has also used Raymond James Stadium, the place where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team plays. One of the other girl's parents picked up the group and dropped them off at their individual houses so my participation was easy-peasy and I had a nice peaceful night to myself.

In response to a comment, yes, the Homecoming dances in our area are formal. I think it's great because it gives all the high schoolers one opportunity per year to go all out and have some good, clean fun. Prom is for Seniors only here, but Homecoming is open to all the grades. With both sons in high school, last year was a doozy for the budget because we had to rent two tuxedos for Homecoming and another for Prom, plus shell out the money for corsages, dinners, etc., but this year we're back to only one high-schooler and one tux/one event until Alex is a Senior.

And for non-U.S. readers asking what Homecoming actually is, I'll refer you to last year's Homecoming post, here. Yes, Alex is trying out different hairstyles. ;-) Last year, was a 5-inch Mohawk. This year, he's shaggy and curly, with hair much too pretty for a boy. I wish mine was still that red on its own. But there's no denying he's my son — he looks just like me, except for his blue eyes.

Oh, and the football team won Friday night 32-13. A perfect Homecoming week all around.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Out the door

What's the quickest way to make the steamy Florida temperatures drop? Why, sew a pair of capris in October, of course! It was a frigid 67 degrees when I took the dogs out at 6:15 a.m. Brrrr! I know, you're all laughing but after nearly 20 years of being a Floridian, anything below 70 is cold to me.

The capris are done and the temps are rising to be back over 80 by midday so all is going as planned so far. But that brief cold snap this morning gives me hope that lower humidity levels are just around the corner and soon we'll be enjoying that perfect Florida weather up until next May.

I went a little topstitching crazy on these but I wanted them to look more like "real" jeans than a quickie sew of pull-on denim pants. From way before summer started, I had really wanted to sew true jeans from this fabric but I never seemed to have the time. I finally decided *something* was better than wishing the flat fabric was pants. At least now I can wear them, and I will. A lot. I may still topstitch a fake fly onto the front but I'm out of time this morning and need to get out and about to start the day. A day which won't end until close to midnight, when I'm back home again after Team Mom and Game Day duties. Tonight is Homecoming, so halftime will run long and the game will end later than usual.

This is the side pocket. I *need* this pocket every Friday when I'm looking for an easy place to stash the receipt from the restaurant that provides the team meal. It's also good for dog treats during our daily walks. The back pockets are slighty bigger versions of this same shape, with the same topstitching. I wasn't imaginative this time as this is the exact same pocket and topstitching used for my khaki capris earlier in the year. I've been wearing those on some Fridays, but inevitably when I do is when I slosh BBQ sauce down my leg. If you haven't guessed yet, Mr. Murphy seems to follow me around a lot.

The bottom hem is vented, and I bartacked just above the opening with navy thread for a little invisible security. Nothing exciting there, just a detail that will be useful for me when I'm sitting funny and go to get up with my pants leg still stuck under my butt or something. ;-)

Now, to the shower and then out for a quick dog walk. Then off to the school to pick up checks for the restaurant, to the restaurant by noon for lunch for me and DS and then to load the food, return back to school to unload the food, set up the tables and drinks, serve the team, clean-up, return home around 4 p.m. for another quick dog walk, grab dinner, and off to the game at 6:45 p.m. Sounds like fun, eh? ;-) Actually, it is as long as you don't list it all out like that. Go Cougars!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Questions and Capris

OK, I have to admit that I never thought I'd get so many comments about the little thread rack and my "floating" basket. But thank you. It's nice to know I'm not the only one touched by OCD in the sewing room. ;-) There were a few questions/comments, so I'll address those here.

1. Will bobbin spools fit on those spindles?

Not directly. The spindles are on the thick side. And, as a side note, they are also spaced too close together to put C&C spools side-by-side. (Yes, I use C&C a lot because of the better color selection and my machines never balk at it.) But the spacing doesn't matter to me because I'm not intending to actually fill up the rack. If I do, it means I have too many spools sitting out. OK, back to bobbins …

To get around the spindle size, I use plastic drinking straws. I cut a straw so it's about 4" long and then I slit it along the length so it can wrap around itself to become narrower. I slide the straw over a spindle, pop on a spool of thread and then slide the matching bobbin thread down the straw on top of the thread, like this:

I use the straws on my big thread racks too, to stack multiple spools of the same thread.

2. How do you store your bobbins?

I use these Bobbin Saver thingies. I think I purchased them at Joann's with coupons, but they're available at many places that sell other notions. I like these a lot. My bobbins stay put and are handy, and the thread tails don't unwind. Well, if I actually take the time to rewind the tail around the bobbin. Ahem. But the tails don't unwind any further than however long they are when I stick the bobbin into the Saver.

As you can see, I have a few bobbins. But I do actually use them up. Either on the next sewing project if the color is right or when I'm basting something. I like to use different color threads top and bottom when basting so it's easy to tell which is which when I'm removing the stitches or pulling up gathers, so I pop in a "used" bobbin and baste away. I'm not always so thrifty, but this is too easy not to be.

3. OK, Debbie, you had such a brilliant idea that now Nancy's Notions is backordered 2 weeks out for the mini thread rack!

Nah, it wasn't me. NN's was backordered when I ordered mine too. But it was worth the wait. But I'm *still* waiting for the rest of my order and I'm getting ticked off. It's been over a month now and apparently NN's uses a new FedEx slow-boat-to-China service and on top of that sent one part of my order to my previous (as in 2 years ago!) address and has now had to reship it, again on the slow boat. Grrrr. My orders from NN's used to arrive very promptly. I am not liking their new, not-improved, shipping service. Oops. Rant over.

4. Simplicity 9076 has a can caddy pattern that I used, it has pockets. You can be quite creative with it, you need an empty coffee can.

I couldn't find that exact pattern on the Simplicity website, but I'm pretty sure I know the type of caddy. Unfortunately, I never seem to find time to sew those sorts of things for myself. Cheap plastic baskets from Walmart are more my speed. ;-)

* * * * *

My next project up is a quickie pair of denim capris. Yes, I know it's October. But it's still over 90 degrees here during the day and I need a new pair for the rest of high school football season, and probably beyond. The pair I usually wear to the games is looking too faded these days and they are on the verge of becoming embarrassing. Plus, the school colors are navy & gold and a new darker denim is closer to the navy and will look better with the gold tee shirt I wear every Friday to the games.

I'm using my TNT Simplicity 4605 (OOP, I think). I cut them out last night and will finish them this morning. I'll be adding two back and one side pocket, because the other thing that bugs me about my old denim capris is that they have NO POCKETS. Arghhh.

The rest of the day will be filled with errands. To the post office, to DMV to pay a ticket for DS (not speeding, thankfully, but driving with an expired tag which was sort of my fault too for not paying attention to it), and hopefully to the dog park. Poor poochies haven't been in so long. It's been so hot that going in the middle of the day is useless because no one else is there and with football practice pick-up, the timing has been wrong to go before or after dinner. Tonight is a big pep rally at school since this is Homecoming Week. I'm thinking if I skip the Pep Rally, I can take the dogs and then go pick up DS. DS#2 has an actual date for the dance on Saturday. I'm hoping I'll have some pics to share. Which reminds me, I need to pick up his tux too. Time to scoot …

Saturday, October 6, 2007

It's The Little Things

You probably already know that this is a thread rack. But what you may not know is that it's a tiny thread rack, costing about $3.50 from Nancy's Notions. When I saw it, I was in love and I bought it pronto!

This is where I sew.

My machines are spaced along a 6-ft counter. Generally, it's more than enough room. Except, as I sew I tend to accumulate "clutter" to the right of the sewing machine. Things like the 2-3 presser feet I'm switching between during a project, my thread snippers, different spools of thread for different parts of a project, and more. And then, if I have to move to the coverstitch machine on the far right, my garment gets laid over the top of that pile of clutter and invariably something slips to the floor or I have to hunt underneath for my snips. This drives me NUTS as I'm usually a very organized person. A place for everything and everything in its place.

The little thread rack arrived yesterday. This morning, I couldn't wait to get to the sewing room to get things in order. Now the space between the sewing machine and coverstitch machine looks like this:

The white basket to the left of the thread rack isn't a new addition, It's always been there. It holds my most-often used notions. Things like tweezers, my "stick", bodkins, seam ripper, buttonhole cutter, screwdriver, lint brush, etc. But now the mini thread rack is also in place and it's currently holding the spools of thread for a project in process, a spool of white thread that's almost used up but has too much thread left to toss, same for a cone of serger thread, topstitching thread for a pair of DS's jeans that need repair, and a couple of straws holding matching bobbins that I don't want to "file" away with the rest of the bobbins yet, lest I forget which one matches which.

Also added today was another little white basket that will "float" between the two machines. I'll toss the in-use presser feet and needle cases** in there, along with my pin cushion. Then, when I need to move to the coverstitch machine, all I'll have to do is move that little basket aside instead of gathering up each piece of clutter individually.

**I leave the whole needle case out so that I can tell at a glance what needle is in my machine. When I switch needle types, I put the previous case away and put the new case out.

Yeah, I'm probably a bit OCD about all of this, but for now, I'm feeling very pleased with the results.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sometimes Things Just Work Out

DH finished with his 3-week class this past Friday, but he's only home for this week before he takes off on Sunday. It's gonna be me and the boys (and poochies) manning the home fires for a while. We decided to have a real lunch date together today before his trip.

Of course I wanted to wear my new top but I didn't think it would be a go because I didn't think I had anything to wear with it yet. Hah! When one has been buying and sewing (and receiving wonderful fabric gifts from Aussie friends) in the same color families, one should know better. A trip through the long pants section in my closet revealed a winner. Last year's pants from the wonderful bengaline fabric that Belinda sent from Australia. Belinda knows my colors as well as I do. Lucky me, eh? These pants match my new top perfectly. I love it when that kind of stuff happens.

So, here I am. New top, last year's pants. The top feels great. I love this fabric. But it's a looser style than I'm used to so I need to stop thinking it's going to fall off my shoulders because it really isn't. It fits fine and doesn't move. I just don't have a seam at my armpit so I'm getting more of a breeze in there. ;-) I could see living in these tunics all summer long. Why did I wait until October?

But I'm now long out of that outfit and back to my flips flops and capris. Mom uniform. Plus my toes were about to suffocate being covered over and all. ;-) Here's what I'm wearing as I type this, apologies for the blurries. And no, still no carpeting in my bedroom. Sigh.