Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Big Needle Controversy - Solved!

How often should I change my sewing machine needle?
Over the years, I have heard and read this question asked and answered a hundred times, and most times it's a different answer depending on preference.  I have never been completely satisfied with the answer or my own personal choice on this.  But today...Eureka!  Look no further except to watch this video presentation by Bob Purcell, "Chief Threadologist of Superior Threads"; he will tell you everything you ever wanted to know and more about needles!



There are several other very interesting and informative videos that you may want to view, if you're a sewer that's soh-er not soo-er ;), and they can be found on YouTube on the Superior Threads channel.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Baby Guinea Pigs

We were surprised when one of our guinea pigs got pregnant early this year.  Surprised because we've been keeping our males and females separate.  But, apparently, one time when my sons took them out for some exercise in their room, they put them all together in a make-shift pen made with old vhs tapes standing on their sides.  Ooops!
Here's our guineas:                                            
  Our 2 oys                                       
Max (above) and Chowder (below)

The Girls
Calico, Crunch, and Snickers
(Snickers had the pups)

The babies, or puppies, or cavies, didn't really look like the typical animal newborns we were used to.  They had all their furry hair and it was dry (by the time we were able to see them) and their eyes were open and they were scooting around.  They even started feeding on some greens within the first few weeks!








Well, they're weened now and about 6wks. old 


We need to find homes for them, which makes my whole animal-loving family a bit sad.  But, they'll be much bigger before we know it and we already have 5 other guineas along with a cat and dog.  If we were already living in the country on our land, we'd certainly be keeping them.  But, unfortunately here in the city we don't have room to accommodate them and I don't think we'll be moving soon enough.

Here are a few more guinea pics just for fun.
These 2 piggies were actually cuddling up against my daughter's dog's tummy, she's curved around behind them.


This is my youngest son with his guinea whom he loves, Chowder.

Get ready for your close-up!



CUT!  Print!  It's a wrap!
Okay, people, get the clean-up crew in here and sweep up all these little piggie pellets.








Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Finds at GoodWill

I was happy to find two things I've been "needing" for awhile but just did not want to put the money out to get.  And today, I found both at GoodWill!  Yippie Skippy!  I love when that happens.  :)

They are both vintage, which made them even more special since I love vintage things.  They give off that comforting feeling to me.  Maybe because I'm  vintage, having lived on this earth for a little over half a century now, and also because all things vintage remind me of my childhood, which realistically was full of a lot of pain, but it also had some good moments.  Those are the moments on which I like to focus these days.

My first find was a Weaver's Pres-Kloth tailor's ham made who-knows-when-exactly, but apparently, it was ages ago.  It's hard as a rock!  A lot harder than I had expected, having never owned one.  I bought it for 99¢.
 Here we have a World's Best sleeve board.  
This cost me $2.99.
They both look a lot cleaner in these photos than they actually are.  I can take the covers off the sleeve board and wash those, but I'm not sure yet how I'm going to wash the big fat ham up there.  And since my old rickety ironing board just recently fell apart like a cheap suit, I can use the wide part of the sleeve board for ironing small projects.  I've been using a folded towel on top of my sewing machine table, which has been slightly inconvenient but doable in a pinch.  My sewing room isn't very big so I prefer something small while I'm sewing anyway.  This little sleeve board will be perfect!

$3.98 plus tax = Fun Friday Finds Finer than Frog's Hair!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Few Things Sewn Recently

These are just a few things I've been working on in the last week or so.  Since the sewing sessions with our homeschool group are over, the wheels in my brain have been turning and looking for fun things to sew.  Even though I have several pants in a pile that need hemming for a friend.  I am getting to them, honest!


My very first wallet project!  I found this wonderful tutorial at Modest Maven, sewing my way for a bifold wallet.   Modest Maven has a lovely blog with several very nicely done tutorials.   And her bifold wallet one was simple and easy to follow with a lot of photos to help walk you through it.

Since this was my "test" wallet, I used scraps of fabric I had laying around and I put on a velcro closure instead of a snap.  I was happy with how it turned out and am now planning on making more.  My husband has requested one without the strap so I need to get fabric for his.

My 11yr. old son wanted to make one so he picked out some fabric and I supervised him and helped with a little sewing.


 He did a pretty good job, if I say so myself!

Another quick and fun project is this pleated zipper pouch.  I found the tutorial for it here at a blog called Skip to my Lou.  
Again, the instructions were simple and easy to follow with nice photos walking you through each step, and the author, Cindy, even has a free downloadable pattern which I was able to print.  I sewed the first one with some fabric scraps and a zipper I had in my stash and was happy with the result.  One of my daughters confiscated it "hot off the ironing board" and is now using it as a make-up bag.  I decided to make another one for my daughters' friend for her birthday.   


It's hard to see the pleats in these photos, but these little pouches turn out so cute that I just want to make a bunch of them to give away as gifts!  I have 5 daughters, a mother-in-law, and several sisters and sisters-in-law that I could pass them along to so I'd better get crackin'!  Oh, but I need to get my hubby's wallet done first.  And then there's that pile of pants in the corner that aren't going to hem themselves.   *sigh*   I guess my cute little zippered pouches will have to wait a bit before they get sewn.   But, they stitch up so quickly that I'm sure I can sneak in a couple here and there between my other sewing projects.  yay

In Home Sewing Sessions

It started with me organizing last minute sewing sessions for kids in our homeschool group.  I had signed my children up for science/art sessions, which were cancelled at the last minute because the hosting mom had changes in her work schedule.  As a result, my kids were very disappointed and urged me to "host something, Mom!...please!"  So, I settled on sewing.

We ended up having 10 students-9 kids and 1 mom (who quickly morphed into being my assistant instead).  My two teen girls were our helping hands.  I never planned it to be such a large group, but most of the kids came as pairs of siblings and I couldn't bare to turn anyone away.  Besides, it was a last minute idea and the end of the school year, for most, so we went out with a bang!

In my dining room, I set up a long, long, folding table which I recently inherited (it stayed up for the whole 6 weeks) and we started out with 6 sewing machines (4 being mine).  We met once a week for 2hrs. in the afternoon.  We could have used an extra 30-40 mins each week and we usually went a little overtime.  It took the first couple of sessions to get the kids used to the machines and sewing terms and being comfortable with following the given instructions.   By the end of the first session, we encountered problems with half the machines which ate up a lot of sewing time.  I ended up putting 1 machine away for good, and which I'm still awaiting my sewing machine "guy" to come by to check out.  So, we were down to 2 kids on a machine which in my head seemed like it would work but in reality did pose a few problems.  I can see now that ideally, 1 person per machine is best and even more ideally everyone bringing their own machines is the way to go.   And how I will do it next time, if and when there is a next time.  
Two of the machines are not in this picture, one of which is my trusty vintage  in-table Kenmore, below.

The first week we made wrist pincushions.   My reasoning behind this was that it was a small, simple project that got the kids measuring, cutting, machine sewing, stuffing, working with elastic, and hand sewing and it would also solve the problem of pins and pin cushions floating around the room each week.  As it turned out, only about two of the kids kept bringing theirs back each time and using them.   Ah well, the kids were excited about completing a project and actually sewing on the machines.  


I also learned after that first week that I would have to scrap most of the project plans that I had set up because even though they were all beginning sewers, they were already moving at completely different paces and sharing machines that occasionally had problems wouldn't work for more detailed projects.  I had to keep it simple and pick projects that could be completed in roughly 2hrs., with possibly a slight overlap to the next week.  I found it was more challenging than I thought to pick projects to accommodate several different criteria.  We had ages from 9 - 15, boys and girls, kids who worked much quicker than others, kids who could be instructed once and then work and then others who needed step by step guidance, and these varying levels had nothing to do with age.  It was a very interesting learning experience for me.  All the kids were great, but I would certainly do things differently - as they say, whoever they are that say things for all the world to listen and learn, hind's sight is 20/20.

 Happy busy hands.  :)


Another project we did was pillowcases using the "hot dog" method, which the kids loved because there was that "ah-ha!" moment when you pull out the fabric from it's roll and turn everything right-side out and suddenly you have a pillowcase!  It was like a magic trick to them!  They were all proud of their pillowcases.  :)

I wish I had thought to take photos each week throughout, but every session was so busy from start to finish that I didn't think of it until the last week.  I would have needed one person appointed just for photography in order to get that job done.  But at least I got a few photos of the students as a remembrance.    


While I don't feel that these sessions were actually sewing lessons as much as they were a time of sewing projects, I still think the kids learned something new, and I know that several of them have been inspired to attempt their own projects at home, which, in my opinion, is really what it's all about.  And along with that, I got to know these kids a little better which I thoroughly enjoyed.  


Overall, it was a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.  One I would happily do again.  :)


Saturday, April 7, 2012

This is my daughter, she wrote this song last night.  

It's called  Dream To Smell The Roses.

Friday, March 16, 2012

My pH is Outta Whack!

We balance the pH of our pool water, our fish tanks, why not our bodies?

Wow, when I first read about this a little over a year ago or so, it's like a light bulb went on above my head!  Seriously, why had this not even occurred to me before?  Well, I stumbled upon it doing some healthy eating research.  Truthfully, I shouldn't say I stumbled upon it, because I have no doubt that I was led there by the Great Spirit, YaHWeH.  But when I came across all this information on why it's important to have a balanced body pH, what being acidic does to our bodies and our health, what makes us acidic, and how we can balance it...it totally summed up my health problems and issues, and their affects on me.  I couldn't believe it!  I dove right in and started making changes, and I was amazed at how quickly my body responded!  I felt better, looked better, and functioned better in less than two weeks.  Actually, I started feeling better in a matter of days, and my skin and eyes got clearer and brighter within the first week.  I also noticed an increase in energy.  Well, it was a wonderful and unbelievable few weeks and then....I bombed.  *sigh*

 Something happened that I reacted to and upset me very, very, much.  And my emotions got the best of me and I surrendered and went on an emotional eating binge.  It was awful, and all the horrible feelings flooded back in on me, physically and emotionally.   I couldn't get back in line with the program.  I should say, I didn't  get back in line....I was not letting go of the "thing" that put me over the edge in the first place, and the anger grew, and grew, and turned into bitterness and I found myself in a trap.  All my joy, and praise, and thanksgiving, turned to sadness, complaining, and discontent.  This is really about more than health issues, I see that now..

In any case, it's been a long, extremely long,  year.  As I write this I can almost not believe how long I've hung on to things.  But the crazy thing is that I had actually fooled myself into thinking that I had let them go.  But, no, it all still lingered there deep down inside of me, hiding yet seeping out here and there in little bits and pieces.  I'm so stubborn and hard-headed that I clung to my pain, like it was my best friend, instead of clinging to the One who made me, loved me,  sacrificed and saves me.  But, praise YaHWeH, He has helped me see the light again!  Oh, I am constantly amazed at His patience and gentle nudges.  His forgiveness and cleansing floods over me, and His beauty and grace overwhelms me...and peace fills my psuche.  HalleluYaH!  Interestingly enough, the awareness and forgiveness He has brought has led me back to this place of addressing my health issues.  I am repeatedly reminded how everything is spiritual at its base.

Well, without going into all the details right now on research and the information I've gathered, I am here to say that I have started to get back in line - or should I say, in balance,  as of two days ago.  And already, today, I have noticed a difference in my energy level and mental clarity and also the clearness of my eyes.   Again, I say I'm amazed at how quickly my body is beginning to respond to these changes.  I will have to do another blog post on what exactly I'm doing and include information and  links to websites from which I've "gathered".   And I want to continue to post my progress on here as an added incentive and accountability for me to keep it going.  *little cringing face*

I'm including my children in on this and am trying to encourage my hubby to join in, as well.   Although, that's a bit harder to do.  But, I think as he sees how things are going, and through much prayer, he'll jump on into the pH pool with us.  :))

Go Green!  GO Alkaline!

My Boys Sewing!

I love seeing my kids learning/trying something new.  But, I have especially enjoyed helping my boys learn how to sew.  My oldest son has been at the sewing machine before when he was 9, (now 11) when I was learning to quilt and he just really wanted to try it.  He did a fabulous job.  Boys and machines...they love 'em.

Well, a couple of months ago, I found these old  To-Sew sewing kits for 25¢ at a thrift shop.  They came with all the supplies needed - thread, needles, fabric-how could I resist?  They've been hanging in my closet and the other day my boys saw them and asked if they could "do" them, and it's been said that when a child wants to learn something that's the best time to teach them.  So, we went for it!

I worked with them one at a time, and we stopped several times throughout the day and came back to it.   I was happy with how they stuck with it, seeing it through to the end.  This was great because even though it's a relatively simple project, they were able to practice several skills - reading and following pattern instructions, ironing everything, pinning a pattern, transferring markings,  cutting out, machine and hand embroidery, machine and hand sewing.   And best of all, feeling good about what they had accomplished when it was finished!
 

My youngest practiced on scrap fabric before he sewed on the "real thing". 

It's amazing how much it took to fill this yellow "guy"!

Happy boy with his strange yellow bunny, shaped kind of like a tooth!

Even though my kids aren't exactly "little" anymore, they still like their stuffed toys.  My 11 yr. old recently told me, while hugging me, "Mom! I need to have a plushie of you so I can hug you all the time!"  That was SO sweet!  Not sure how much longer he's going to feel that way, ha!
 
My 11yr. old free form stitching  the filament design.  He thought hand sewing that would take too long so he wanted to try it on the machine.  We had already done quite a bit of embroidery on his brother's project, and  the felt strips on the bottom of this light bulb were sewn on by hand.  So, I said, "Sure, why not!"
I wondered if he'd be able to control his speed and the fabric and follow the lines.  But, I think he did a great job!


Ahh...success!  
I "googled" the To-Sew company, but couldn't find anything on them.  The bags show an address in California and the copyright on the pattern says 1998, so it's not terribly old.  It seems they may have gone out of business, or changed their name.  But these kits were really nice, including everything you need to complete the project.  I was impressed with how the pattern was just   like a typical sewing pattern, with instructions, layout, seam allowances, markings, and notches.  It was a very good starter project for teaching kids how to sew,  encompassing a lot of different skills. 

Since the sewing project, both my sons have drawn pictures of garments they would like to make for themselves (or have me make for them).  One stuffed toy-pillow-thingy under their belt and now they're into fashion design?  Hahaha...ya gotta love it! 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Yay! Another Crochet Project Done!

Last night I finished these for my daughter.  Both patterns are from the Lion Brand website.  They have a lot of free patterns for crocheting and knitting.   And the thing I like in particular is that there are often many reviews of the patterns posted by others who have tried them.  I find the reviews very useful since besides rating the patterns, users often include tips on how  they may have adjusted the pattern if it didn't seem to work for them.  Sometimes photos of finished projects are even posted.  You do have to register with the site to access the patterns, but it's free.
            
Here's my model, Beatrice, wearing the Morning Stroll Hat  and the pattern can be found here.  The instructions were simple and easy to follow.  The only two changes I made were adding a couple additional decreasing rows, since it seemed it was going to be a little large for the size of the band I needed to fit my daughter;  and I also added a row of double crochet to the band itself.  I thought it would give it a little bit of a softer stretch and feel around her head.
And here is Beatrice again, wearing the lacy Scalloped Cowl,  which can be found at LionBrand.com .   I was happy with the way it turned out but I did adjust this pattern by adding to the foundation chain.  The instructions say to chain 56, but after doing so, that seemed a bit small when I put it around my neck so I added 16 stitches figuring that it probably needed to be a multiple of 8, and it worked out fine.  These instructions were also fairly simple and easy to follow.  (These photos make it look more yellow-y than it is...it's more of an off white, creamy color.)   The nice thing about this cowl is that because of it's lacy-ness, it will be a great one to wear in the spring.  I think I might crochet more in different springy colors.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vintage Sewing Patterns

Remember when sewing patterns were only 65¢?
Umm.....no.
Apparently, that was the going price in the late 60's when I was just a wee lass.  I'm not divulging exactly how  wee.  Howie?
I found a bunch, which is more than some but less than loads, at a second hand store and I picked out several to take home with me.  Boy, looking at these is making me feel like I want to grab a ginger ale, plop down in my orange vinyl bean bag chair and watch an episode of Gidget.

And how could I resist this pattern for such cool threads?  Let's see, who do we have on here?  It looks like it could be  Lee Majors, James Gardner,  and Roger Moore.   I haven't figured out who the guy with the mustache is yet.

Real men wear embroidered shirts. 
Can you dig it?