Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Decorative stitching brightens the day

Life is messy, clean it up. Clothes get holes, sew them up. I have been doing more mending. This time I sewed a scrub top of my daughters. I made her several scrub tops a few years ago. They have ties at the waist and are more fitted to be feminine. As a nurse, I loved the jammy feel of scrubs but disliked the boxy shape. I worked labor and delivery, so we wore hospital scrubs - no opportunity to personalize. My oldest daughter works at an optometrist office and can have fun with her work clothes.

The waist tie had opened the side seam. I sewed that seam easily, then pondered how the once gorgeous fabric was starting to look faded. It needed a little pick me up. And I admit I am eager to use every decorative stitch on my machine. I'm goofy that way :)

I noticed part of her bottom hem was coming loose .... yeah you know I did it. I picked a flower stitch and went around the bottom of her shirt. I used a vibrant purple color - her favorite.

The trim on this shirt was pink but the background was a pale purple color. I picked this stitch because if you let your eyes blur a bit, gaze from a distance, it kind of looks like a butterfly which is the pattern of the fabric. It pleased me to see how this simple line of decorative stitching brightened up the whole shirt. It's a reminder for me to not overlook the details or the decorative stitches just sitting on my machine waiting to beautify fabric.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Roll that hem!!

My chore list had sewing on it, yeah!! My daughter is a member of The International Order of Rainbow for Girls. It's a youth group through the Masonic family of lodges. Amazing group! They teach leadership, service, speaking and best of all, responsibility. This weekend is Oklahoma's Grand Assembly when the girls from all over the state get together to compete, practice their skills and install the next group of officers to lead them for the next year. 

It also means I have at least one store bought dress to alter. Ugh. But this years dress is really nice. It's well made with boning and lining. My daughter was delighted to find it also has POCKETS!!! She hasn't had a formal with pockets. I laughed because my dog show friends will pay dearly to have pockets fitted into the dresses they wear to compete their dogs. You gotta love a formal with a pocket full of dried liver - Blech!

I cut almost 4 inches off the bottom and hemmed the skirt. Then hemmed the net underneath. Then underneath that, I cut 4 inches off the lining and hemmed that. It's a full skirt, about 12 feet around! Lots of hemming. Lots and lots :) 

Enter my amazing super sewing machine, the Janome 8900. My previous machine probably had a rolled hem foot but I never discovered it. I sat down today, pulled out my owners manual, found the correct page, found the foot and tested it on a scrap of fabric. 

The Heavens opened and angels sang!!! It worked! This may sound nuts but to someone who has struggled for years to fold fabric twice over, super thin and sew it properly .... this rolled hem foot has revolutionized my life. It simplified a task I have struggled with on formals for over 15 years. I sewed my own wedding dress 28 years ago and it didn't even have a rolled hem. I bet I would cringe at some of the workmanship. But I made a beautiful dress on an old Kenmore sewing machine that cost about $100. I am still proud of the accomplishment.

Check out the finished hem. I love it! I had hiccups along the way but overall it's a great hem. All sewing should be this joyful. 


Thursday, May 23, 2013


Is it me or is life spinning too fast? I have so many good intentions to cut, sew and quilt, then kids, chaos, chores, whatever jump and demand my attention. This week Oklahoma has been crazy busy due to tornado damage on multiple days in multiple towns. This past Monday's tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma and really stopped my world for a moment. I graduated from Moore and have so many friends still living there. My friends are all alive and well but several have lost their homes. It's a relief and heartbreaking.  

The pic at the top is my childhood friend David McKenna. We met in elementary school and graduated from THE Moore High School, before they added 2 'other' Moore's. He lost his house but he has pride, spirit, faith and courage. He also has his Bullmastiff furbaby Roxy. 

Many people lost their lives, including several children at a local school. I cannot imagine the pain of their families. Please keep all the Oklahoman's caught up in this tornado chaos in your thoughts and prayers.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bravely sewing where seams come apart

I need to be very honest with you.

I'm cheating. 
And I really enjoyed it! :) 

I did my son's mending and was casting about for the next project. An inexpensive quilt folded at the top of the closet caught my eye. It was store bought for very few dollars to cover a hotel bed on a road trip with dogs. After more use and a few washes, the seams of the quilt blocks were coming unstitched. Some pieces had pulled threads which left impossible holes. I couldn't make it much worse, so I pulled it down to sew it as best I could. 

Then ... I got out of hand .... 

My hand loses sensation and dexterity quickly due to scar tissue, so this was going to be all machine sewing. I used a decorative stitch to go around one piece of a block. The quilt is made of simple rail fence type blocks. The strips aren't all the same width so it may be a different pattern. I'm still learning patterns. 

I lost my mind .... 

and zigzagged around ALL the blocks. Then all the pieces of each block. I had no idea how many seams were coming open! But they are stitched down now. 

Next, I am thinking that rather than making quilt sandwiches to practice my free motion quilting, why not do some practice on this poor quilt? I can't hurt it, LOL. We'll see what happens ... 

This project taught me to be brave.
To have fun. 
And that my lovely Janome sewing machine can hold a king sized quilt all stuffed up in it's throat space.    


Monday, May 6, 2013

Trees and Flowers for flies

Spring means renewal around here. AKA work to replace what has died or been destroyed by Oklahoma weather. Our tree seedlings are growing well and waking up. The lavender bushes are very leafy. Even the Ash tree babies are finally budding. 

Flies get to be a nuisance in the heat of the summer. We have a lot of animals, so flies are unavoidable. Fly predators help but it's not enough. This year I am trying Marigold flowers to repel flies by our main entrance. 

I bought inexpensive hanging baskets with coco mats. To prevent them drying out too quickly, I put an old plastic bag in each to try to hold in moisture. I did poke holes to let some water out, so the flower roots wouldn't be standing in water. 

Add dirt. Place Marigold bought from Wally World. Trim off the excess bag. Hang. Voila! Fly repellent that looks good. Let's hope this works :)   

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Introducing Ms. Janome

Tada! Here is my new machine! I'm so excited. It was a bit sad to pack up my Babylock Ellure. I simply don't have room for it on my small sewing cabinet. I keep two machines sitting on a cabinet built for one. A sewing machine and a serger. I have to shift them back and forth as I do projects. The secondhand cabinet is not cut to fit either machine in the space that lowers. I have no idea what you call that little platform that drops, LOL.

I had already watched the video, so I sat down to play with Janome and her functions. My daughter wandered in to see what I was doing. So the first thing I did was stitch her name. I used the alphabet stitches included on the machine. Then I switched out feet and stitched my name freehand. I stitched over some other practice stitches on a quilt sandwich. I am out of batting so I was using little sandwiches made from scraps.  

Have I mentioned I am still a beginner free motion quilter? I am! But this Janome machine is making me look good. All the crazy issues I had with my Babylock have been handled by the Janome which is designed with FMQ in mind. I am delighted. I am NOT smooth but in the short time I played, I saw improvement. 

I stitched waves, swirls, lopsided circles, LOL. 

I even tried funny little flowers. No missed stitches. No broken needles. Not even thread nests on the bottom. I could see where I paused but my foot was still on the gas, it made a little bump of thread. Not a problem though.  

All in all I had fun. I'm really excited to do more with this machine.  

Then I got serious and had to mend my sons blanket. A woman's work never ends :)