Spring Chores

Now that my machines are all ready for sewing, I am cutting out some tops and hemming some tablecloths.  We are in for a drought year, the pundits say, but we have had some really good rainstorms this winter, and our water supply isn’t as bad off as some counties, so I am going to go ahead with a small vegetable garden.  I’ve started my seeds:

DSC01106We are in the middle of a rainy week right now with another storm front supposed to pass through tomorrow.  Meanwhile, the poppies and roses are blooming.

DSC01110 DSC01109 The lavender and sage are blooming too.

DSC01111Our fruit trees are looking great, but the ancient camellia bush by the front door that was here when we moved in decades ago seems to have died over the winter.   Meanwhile, the rose bush out front has more roses on it than ever:

DSC01090Hoping for a rainy month ahead.

Sewing Machines

When I was taking care of an older relative a few years ago, I thought the time might come when I would need to stay overnight, so maybe it would be a good idea to have a sewing machine over there to give me something to do during the down times.  I found a nice Singer 404 in a thrift shop in Petaluma for only $35, with a cabinet.  That is a lovely solid metal machine:

DSC00991-001Well, now it is several years later and my sister mentioned wanting a vintage machine, so, since I already have a 301A that is very similar, I gave this one to her.  She lives upstate, so we had a lovely drive up there to take her the machine.  She has much more room for a machine in a cabinet than I have.

I have been thinking about my machines and how I really don’t know how they work, and every time something goes wrong I have to take them into the shop.  Around here the rate for a visit to the shop is at least $130.  That can put a dent in your budget very quickly.  I decided to learn a little more about my machines and how to do proper maintenance, including what lubricants and oils to use where.  I got a book about fixing vintage machines and looked up information on the internet.  I was especially interested in the Singer 401A information because I have one with a frozen cam stack with a cam stuck in it.  I learned that Tri-Flow is what professionals use:

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This is used in places your manual tells you to use sewing machine oil.

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This is used on gears and places where your manual tells you to use lubricant instead of oil.

So I tackled my first sewing machine fix.  I used the Tri-Flow, a hair dryer, and followed the advice of an excellent video I watched (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdaWx1gGZWg), and hurray, I got the stuck cam out, managed to get the stitch selectors working again, and all in all, felt proud of myself.

Turtle Bib

This turtle fabric was a lucky find in the remnant bin and is big enough to make several bibs.

DSC01060Sometimes it’s fun to make a bib that requires no fancy work like embroidery or applique and to just allow the cute fabric to speak for itself.  This fabric made up into a nice bib:

DSC01055I finished another grocery bag, but then the tension on my machine just stopped working, so I guess it is destined to visit the repairman.  I’ve been meaning to try out another one of my machines so now is the time.

Grocery Bags

The first two grocery bags are finished and are on their way to be filled with groceries.  The first bag was sewn in the same way the paper grocery bag is put together but that was a huge hassle and took all day to sew.  The second bag was sewn in the fast tote-bag style with the bottom corners sewn across to square them off, plus some topstitching down the side folds, and that was so much easier and looked much better.  I love it when that happens – the easy way wins! I got the spouse to model the bag which is pretty much exactly the size of a brown paper grocery bag.

DSC01051When my daughter was here to pick up the bags, she said they should have a piece of cardboard or something like that on the bottom so the bag would keep its shape.  I suddenly thought of all the plastic cutting boards I had bought at IKEA a few weeks ago, so we got one out and cut it to size.  The cutting board was big enough to make two of the bag bottoms.  Here’s the product name:
DSC01054I cut the insert about 6 1/2″ x 11 1/2″  (I measured the bottom width of each bag because they vary a bit) and put it in the bottom of the bag.  I rounded the corners so that the plastic would not poke through the fabric. Cutting the plastic is easy to do since it cuts easily with scissors.  Here it is in the bag:
DSC01052The removable insert keeps the bag looking crisp and square and is washable by hand if some grocery item leaks on it.  It has to be removed before you put the bag in the washer and dryer, especially the dryer because it could melt all over the dryer drum.

Now I need to make a few bags for myself, and then I will continue in my effort to never ever pay for a grocery bag.


February Already?

Lots of stuff going on around here, but not a lot of sewing.  We had some construction done on the house, and we are still waiting for the inspections and finishing up.  Today my husband did some painting, and tomorrow I’ll have to put back one of the bookcases and restock the books, and then, hopefully, back to the sewing machine.

One of my first projects will be to sew up some grocery bags.  Yes, our state has gone shopping bag mad and passed annoying laws that make you pay for the bags for your purchases.  Years ago they said that paper bags were evil and bad for the environment (poor innocent trees were killed to make the bags) so we were forced to switch to plastic bags.  Now they have decided that plastic bags are evil and have banned them, and if you want a paper bag you have to pay for it.  I am not fond of junk-science environmentalists who keep making mistakes and changing their minds whilst messing with our lives.  Since I am ticked off about this, I refuse to ever pay for a shopping bag.  Since it is important to have clean bags because they can carry germs, they need to be washable.  I saved a paper grocery bag to use as a pattern and have bought up a large stash of white canvas from the craft thrift store to make the bags.  I haven’t decided exactly what style of bag to sew but it will be the size and shape of a standard brown paper grocery bag.  My daughters want some bags, too, so I think I will use several construction styles and let the girls test them out to see which one works the best.  Hopefully it will be the one that is the easiest to make.

Christmas Shirt

Christmas this year was very nice, and the spouse wore the Christmas shirt three times.  He wore it to the office on Christmas Eve, to the festivities that night with my side of the family, and to Christmas dinner the next day.  It was a big success.


DSC00979What’s next?  Unfortunately, it’s cleaning up the sewing room which got a little out of hand during the Christmas rush.

Christmas Sewing

Some years I have sewn a lot of gifts, but not this year.  The only thing I sewed this year was a Christmas shirt for my husband.  His Christmas shirt had to be Christmasy but not too cutesy, so the hunt was on for the proper fabric.  Here’s what was eventually chosen:

DSC00943It has a navy background so will work with his navy flannel shirt if it is too cold for short sleeves.  I finished it up yesterday and hope to get a picture of it on him next week.  While shopping for other novelty shirt fabrics, this one also came home with me:
DSC00944Before I fell back into shirtmaking, I was busy making a handbag for my MIL.  She had asked for one a few months ago and drew out the size she wanted.  I managed to finish up the bag so that she could get it on her birthday.

DSC00941Here it is half done.  I put in lots of pockets and a zipper under the flap for safety.  We measured the strap on her to get the right length.DSC00942The bag is made of black denim, but I wanted it to be easy for her to see what was in the bag, so the lining is a light color.  The pockets are lined with scraps from the Route 66 shirt I made my husband.  I don’t have much of a picture of the finished bag, but here is one of my MIL carrying the bag downtown when we were on our way to the church Christmas concert:

Night Of The Christmas Concert At The Presbyterian ChurchYou can barely see it in this picture, but she obviously likes it, so mission accomplished.


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