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Remembering Mom

I have vivid memories of my mom at the sewing machine when I was a child. I watched in awe as she turned pieces of fabric into clothes for my sister and I. She studied fashion design at The Art Institute of Chicago where she learned to draft her own patterns and produce clothing that looked store bought. My sister was taking Home EC and from my view was on her way to fashion freedom. I desperately wanted to learn too. I begged my mom to teach me to sew and eventually she relented.

My mother had many talents; teaching was not one of them. A combined lack of talent and patience led to frustration on steroids. The blue overall pants, I so desperately wanted to sew myself,  were constructed beautifully by her. I hated wearing those pants; a symbol of my failure.

I never lost my desire to learn and eventually I did.  I also learned that talent does not make you a good teacher; something I wish more people would recognize. The saying really should be: Those who can, do. Those who can teach, inspire those who can.

I think of my mom often when I sew. My passion for quilting didn’t really blossom while she was alive, but I’m sure she would have had an appreciation for them. Mostly, I think of her when I walk into a classroom of adults anxious to learn a new skill. The irony is that her lack of teaching skills is what makes me a better teacher.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I remember my mom. I’m grateful for inheriting a sprinkle of her talent, and for the memories only an old mechanical Singer can generate.

Proceed with Caution

Searching for Answers

                      Searching for Answers

There is an awful lot of information out there in cyber space. I’ve said it before, not all of it is accurate and honest. Some of it is just outright garbage.  Anyone can publish anything about whatever. Don’t misunderstand me, most of it is fabulous and has greatly supported my most recent obsession with nail art. I recently read some information on a sewing forum that has led to the following.

Just because someone published a blog or a video, doesn’t mean it will work that way for everyone. This is especially true in the sewing world. Possibly other worlds as well, but this is the world I’m comfortable in. There are too many factors that contribute to, “it worked for them, why doesn’t it work for me?” Those variables include, weather, needles, thread, thread color, fabric, prewashed or not, and on and on. Let’s look at some of these.

Weather: I live in the Southwest of the United States. Most of the time it is very dry here. When it does rain, I find that I need to adjust settings on my machine to get the same stitches I get when it doesn’t. I’m sure the same holds for when it gets super cold, but I haven’t personally experienced this. Obviously, what I do may not work for someone who lives in Minnesota.

Needles: I am the first one to ask, “did you change your needle?” and then not do it myself. Yes, sometimes a brand new needle can have burs, etc. Make sure you are using the right needle for the fabric. Click here for more info on needles.

Thread: I would not have believed that thread color could make a difference, until it happened to me. I changed thread color in the middle of a project. I did not change the bobbin, only the top thread, same brand, same line. My stitches were not as perfect. Then there are different manufacturers. I have 3 Berninas. Only one of them likes a very popular thread brand.

Are you with me now? You are the only expert on your machine and all its  nuances. No one sews like you; the combination of your hand weight on the fabric and speed. Your environment.

The only suggestion I can offer is to use what you read/see as a jumping off point. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to play with the knobs on your machine; most of them have a way to easily go back to the default settings.  Once you get a setting you like for a type of project, write it down. Needle, thread, settings, fabric, etc. This is no guarantee it will work exactly the same way the next time, but it’s a great place to start.

Lastly: for a lot of people, sewing is a hobby (“an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure”). Pleasure should be your guideline. Have fun, experiment, stretch yourself creatively, and enjoy the process. By all mean, scour the internet for information, just be open to what you find.

**I generally like to go to manufactures websites for information on their products. I really like Superior Threads education section of their site. This is definitely a great place to start.

Getting Connected: Phase I

logo_1Well, I finally did it. I started using Pinterest.  Well at least with regards to my blog. See the thing is there is a TON of stuff to look at out here in the cyber world. Chances are, you’ve fallen victim to surfing the web either into the wee hours of the night or some other time when you should be doing something else. That’s what happens when I go to my Pinterest account. I did learn about the google timer, you just have to try it. It’s a timer that you open in a separate tab or window and you set it for however long you want. This stops me from surfing too long.

Anyway, back to Pinterest and the internet for that matter. There is a lot of stuff out there and not all of it is good information; especially for a new sewer. I’ve said it before: anyone can post anything on the web. I both wish and am glad the web wasn’t so mainstream when I learned how to sew. Don’t misunderstand me, there is great info out there. The trick is separating  what’s garbage and what’s not. The best advice I can give is to use your machine’s manual. That and replace your needle often.

Next up: Facebook and Twitter. This being connected business is a lot of work!

For now, My Sassy Notions is up and running on Pinterest.  Feel free to follow me there.

My Studio Makeover

I started thinking about revamping my sewing studio about 6 months ago. The more I thought about what I wanted, the more I put the project off.  Seems to be a running theme in my life, over think the project instead of actually doing anything Thunderstorms are common here in July and August so I convinced myself that it would be the perfect time. 

Step one:Empty the room.

I wanted to work with an empty pallet. I set up some tables in the family room and started hauling things out. Once the room was cleared, I began configuring the set up: 2 sewing cabinets, 3 machines, one cutting station, one pressing station. I moved the cabinets up against the walls; they had previously been somewhat in the center of the room. What a difference! I’m thrilled with the amount of floor space it opened up.

Step Two: Spend Money

Whenever I go off on an organizing spree, it somehow costs me money. I decided to get a cutting table. A super sturdy one would have been my first choice. I ended up buying a craft table at a big box store. (It was on sale half off and I had a coupon for 15% off that.Super Sturdy will have to wait until I’m rich and famous.) When I was younger, assembling furniture was a fairly regular event. The thought of sitting on the floor let alone getting off the floor sent me into a tizzy. Then I saw my kitchen table, lonely, waiting for me to use it. Using allen wrenches, screwdrivers, etc is so much easier standing up or sitting in a chair. The most difficult part was getting my new table off the kitchen table.  My next spending adventure was  wall mounted magnetic knife racks. I know I’ve seen this before, but it is genius. I got two and they hold my scissors and rotary cutters. No more cute little silverware holders lying around, ok falling on the floor. I added a magnetic pen cup to put my sheaths in so when my scissors have to travel, they can do so safely.

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Magnetic Knife rack

Step Three: Make mistakes

Yep, we all make them.  Measure twice, cut once. I discovered this also applies to putting holes in your wall and not just cutting fabric. So now I have a few more holes in my wall then what I need, or actually want. I will either figure out a way to cover them, use them or eventually repair UGH! them.

Step Four: Step Away

Sometimes you just have to walk away. I am happy with how the space is coming together, but I really really want/need some creative time. I’m taking a break from organizing, cleaning, spending, etc. to make a table runner.

I’ll return to this project in a few days.

Sassy Notions