Bookmarks for Today: Sewing Clothing

Clothing Tutorials:

  • Video tutorial: Sew a perfect dart [link removed] – One of these days I’ll get it right. Mine keep improving. Practice makes perfect, right?
  • Video tutorial: Hemming pants by hand and by machine [link removed] – I hate hemming pants. Hate. But, it’s a necessary evil. Some great tips.

Working with knits:

  • Jersey Neckline with Twin Needle [link removed] – Seriously drool-worthy. If my sewing projects came out like this, I’d never leave my “office.”
  • Video: A Neckline Binding for Knits [link removed] – I still haven’t mastered this technique, since this didn’t seem appropriate for my last knit item. But, it looks very slick, and would probably work much better than what I did.
  • Tips and Tricks for Sewing with Knits [link removed] – I wish I had taken more of these into account on the last knit item I made. Next time.

Vintage Patterns

  • Vintage Sewing Patterns [link removed] – Database of vintage patterns – you can pretty much find anything you want here.
  • Working with Vintage Patterns [link removed] – To help you create a stylish vintage-pattern-based garment, here are some great tips from Threads.

via Google Reader (Shared Items)

Bookmarks for today: More Sewing Links

Random

  • Best Band Ever [link removed] – So, I have a large head, apparently, because it’s hard to find hats that fit, and headbands always give me headaches. One solution? Make your own. Genius!
  • Pleated Purse Pattern [link removed] – I always think I’m going to make a purse, but I never do. I’d like to make this one (but will probably end up buying one at No Coast Craft-o-Rama again this year).

Quilting

  • Value Quilts Tutorial [link removed] – I love making half-square triangles! This is a bit busy for me, but perhaps in a more monochromatic scheme…
  • Make a Zig Zag Quilt (without piecing triangles) [link removed] – One of these days I’m going to find the spare time to make all of the quilts that I want to. This one is on that list.
  • Recycled Bath Mat Tutorial [link removed] – It’s quilted, but not a quilt. Very cute bath mat.

via Google Reader (Shared Items)

Bookmarks for today: Crafts for the home

Some things I’ve bookmarked recently:

  • Clothespin Bag Tutorial [link removed]- Did your mom have one of these while you were growing up? Mine did (and does). Of course, I don’t have an outdoor clothesline, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting one, or wanting to make this cute bag.
  • Furniture Makeover – Cover Computer Chair [link removed] – I somehow think my Ikea desk chair would not turn out nearly as well as this, but I’d love to give it a try!
  • How To Sew/Make A Pillowcase [link removed] – Bookmarked because the dimensions I usually use to make pillowcases are a bit on the large side, and I think I need to find better ones. Making your own pillowcase is so easy and fun, and they even make great gifts!
  • Scrap Buster Fall Pillow [link removed] – OK, everyone on the internet is in love with this and is making their own, and I guess I’m just like everyone else.
  • Easy Pelmet Boxes [link removed] – I’ve been trying to think of a way to do this without it seeming so… well, contrary to our style of decorating. We’re not really swirly-girly people. Love the idea, though!
  • Magnetic Knife Rack [link removed] – Too cute. I think I’d get pinched fingers if I tried to remove the case on ours.
  • Roman blind tutorial in 20 pictures or less [link removed] – If we didn’t have plastic on the window in our bedroom, I might have already made these up. Some day…. (I have all the fabric and supplies.)
  • Oven Mitt Pattern [link removed] – Who needs some for Christmas? I’ll make ya one. (We don’t really need any.)
  • Oven Hand Mitt Tutorial [link removed] – Much smaller oven mitts, but quite cute!
  • Top Gear Telly Cushion [link removed] – Know someone who loves Top Gear? A project perfect for under the Christmas tree.

via Google Reader (Shared Items)

One step forward, two steps back

While it may not sound like much of an accomplishment, the number of unread posts in my Google Reader is now only in the double digits. (I’m catching up on posts written more than three weeks ago at this point.) I know that some of you would say, why doesn’t she just, at the end of the day, click the “Mark all as read” button? Problem solved! Oh, how little you know me. Someone as OCD as me, who likes to create lists just so I can check things off, certainly cannot do something like marking unread messages read. The planets would fall out of alignment, I’m quite sure.

Monday night I got the rows for the Doll Quilt Swap 7 pieced together, and last night I pieced together the 6 rows. For those of you not paying attention, that means that the whole top of my Doll Quilt Swap 7 is completed. Yay! Now I just have to pick out backing and binding fabric. I think the whole thing will come in about 1/2″ over the guidelines, or maybe an inch, which is good. I was worried it was going to be several inches too big (but, in planning, the only other option was one that was much smaller than I preferred).

and I have been playing a lot of 1 vs 100 on the XBox lately. It’s much more fun than the television show (probably because I don’t like game shows, but enjoy feeling smart, and trivia games often make me feel smart, or at least smarter than complete strangers). We play as one person, since I don’t have an XBox Live account, and some people would probably consider that cheating, but whatever. We did awesome at the “He Said / She Said” category.

Once again, I neglected to take a picture of the progress I’ve made in the garden. Last night, while dinner was in the oven, I pruned all of the dead blossoms off of the hydrangea, as well as all of the leaves that had gotten sunburnt when we first put it outside. It looks much better now. I also started pruning the second lilac bush, but got stalled when I realized there was more wild animal poop than there had been originally. Methinks we have a problem, but I have no idea how to go about solving it. Does anyone know how to identify what kind of animal we have by the poop it leaves behind? I’m relatively sure it’s not a dog, and that it is a rather large animal, of which I’ve seen none in our neighborhood (we have bunnies, birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and the occasional stray cat, but none of those are large enough to leave such waste behind as we have).

Apparently, I’ve found my blogging mojo again, as evidenced by the number of posts I’ve already written this week.

Tonight, is going to the State Fair. I think I am going to go to Target, and then work on the dress shirt I’ve been trying to make for the last week, instead of subject myself to that. Or do homework, if the sewing thing doesn’t work out (I’ve already re-done the neck three times, and I don’t want to do it too many more times – once more would be ideal, don’t you think?), perhaps some homework. Six chapters to read for Saturday, but only one to present on – excuse me, teach my reading group about. [My apologies to all the English majors out there for my dangling participles, or whatever they’re called, in that last sentence.] Or press a dress to wear to the family wedding on Saturday. Or make bread. Obviously, I’m a little undecided.

But for now, I’m off to knock another dozen off of Google Reader. It’s very satisfying.

Weekends go by quickly these days

I knew that taking a Saturday morning class would kinda put a damper on my weekends this semester, and I was OK with that. Education means sacrifice, and this is the one I chose (alternately, I could have chosen the Thursday night class, and then I’d be complaining about that instead), so I’ll keep the complaining to a minimum. It’s really not that bad, since I don’t have to wake up too early on Saturday, and I get home by 1:30, so I don’t really lose that much time. Sometimes it feels like it, though. For example, weekends seem much shorter.

At any rate, outside of class, my weekend was very normal and new homeowner appropriate (tomorrow marks 4 months in our house – can you believe it?). We bought lime for our yard, to bring down the acidity (and hopefully squelch the mushrooms and moss that are growing in the grass). I pruned the tomato plants and one of the lilac bushes (it’s so easy to get in the zone while pruning – I would have kept going, even though I was tired, but I got a big blister on my thumb that halted all work). I cut all of the daylilies to the ground. Before you go getting all upset about that last one, note that 1) they were way overgrown, having spread outside of the edged-in garden area, and 2) they will grow back in about two weeks, and be the perfect size (hopefully) for digging up and giving away. I just don’t like them that much, and though they are low maintenance, they take up a ton of space in our garden area that could be better utilized. I hope that and will take most of them, but I think I’ll be bringing them in to work and giving them away to strangers on the street. To give you an idea of how many daylilies we have in our garden, our yard waste bin ins 75% full of what I cut off (and we’d already cut down one section a few weeks ago).

hurt his back while doing some heavy lifting on Sunday. One of his co-workers agreed to take our deep freeze (chest freezer) from the basement (it runs, but the thermostat is broken, so it runs constantly, and this person is going to modify it somehow for a keg or something, so the thermostat was already going to be replaced – seems like a great plan), which involved, naturally, getting the freezer upstairs and out of the house. It’s not that large of a freezer (I’ve seen much bigger), but still heavy. So, he spent part of the night sitting on the couch icing his back. The up side is that there’s now a large (very dirty – trying to ignore that) space in the basement where we can put a fridge and an upright freezer. So, we’ll be watching Craigslist….

I also made some headway on a shirt that I’m making for myself, though not much. I’ve re-done the neckline three times now, though I think this is the last.

dqs7_in_progress
Also, I finally started on my Doll Quilt Swap 7 quilt. I made up some no-waste half-square triangles, which are my favorite.

no_waste_half_square_triangles
The only thing I don't like is that after sewing, cutting apart, and pressing, there are all these extra corners sticking out that need to be cut off (I've tried not cutting them off, but they add way too much bulk and are too awkward to deal with). That is annoying.

I used part of two charm packs that I had laying around, Moda’s Sultry and Objects of Desire, but I pulled out the ones that were blue for a project for our dining room (we have a new sideboard / table in there that has a rather large burn mark from a candle on it, and I am not optimistic enough to think that I will refinish that any time soon). I think it should turn out good, though I’m not sure the scale of my half-square triangles is right for a mini quilt. We’ll see soon enough.

Thursday? Really?

Things have gotten busy at work, and at some points are quite harried, leaving us support staff confused, running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Several “heart attacks” were only avoided by the slightest of margins.

But, you don’t really want to hear me talk about work.

I did manage to upload some photos to Flickr this week, so I can tell you a few crafty things.

Last week, in an effort to feel prepared for school, I organized my ribbon. I know, it doesn’t sound like those two things are related, but trust me, they are. In the pre-school rush of energy, I decided some things needed to be cleaned. There was some significant vacuuming, some organizing, that sort of thing. Sometimes, nothing makes me feel so at peace as some quality time spent organizing very tiny things. Laugh, if you must, I don’t care.

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Organized Ribbon

I have made some progress on the curtains for my office.

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Open

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Closed

Yes, that’s right, I have one whole panel completed (of 4 – two per window). In truth, I have the fronts and backs of the panels (they’re reversible) all ready and the bottom hem has been sewn on the other three. It’s just the side seams and the top part that is stalling me, mostly because of the way I decided to design them that is turning out to be the most awkward way ever, and involves math. Ugh. But just the one, doesn’t it look pretty?

Acorn season has mostly come to an end, for which we are very thankful. There are only so many times you can shovel up inches of acorns before you start to question the value of the very old, very beautiful oak trees in your yard. Hopefully, the squirrels and these guys won’t spend much more time digging up our yard, planting their winter bounties:

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One of many chipmunks that loooove our Oak trees

I’ve also made two pillows for the living room (no pictures yet), and am part-way through another three (had to order a bit more fabric, sadly). I’ve been throwing ideas around in my head trying to figure out what to make for my partner for Doll Quilt Swap 7 (the deadline is coming up mid-September). Oh, and I’ve done some embroidery, and started making some work clothes. And thrown around color schemes for the master bedroom. Nothing terribly exciting.

Now, if you don’t mind, I must get back to proofreading a 12 page list of names and phone numbers. Or maybe the 30 page contract. Or maybe uploading stuff to the new website. There are so many exciting options, it’s hard to choose.

Getting our Party On

Last night, we had what seemed like an epic success in a gardening project (of which I don’t have pictures, and it wouldn’t make sense if I tried to explain it, but trust me, it was awesome) that was amazingly wrapped up by 7:30. In recognition of the fact that 1) it was still early, and 2) I was not actually covered in mud, dirt, twigs, etc., I continued with my original plan and went over to Hancock Fabrics.

Background: I spent over an hour and a half at JoAnn on Saturday night looking for home decorating fabrics. It’s a very difficult thing you know, especially since there are so many fabrics I love on the internet but I don’t trust the colors and textures to be exactly as I imagine them, and it is very important to have color coordination in this project. Also, there were tons of fabrics that I loved in store that either 1) I was pretty sure I would be the only member of our household who thought they were pretty, or 2) totally didn’t go with the color scheme I’ve got going on. Alas. All of that equals a very long time in JoAnn. (Thankfully, I did walk out with some great home dec fabric that was on sale, and all of it was approved-of by all household members.) Two yards of a red suede-like material for the piano bench, and two yards of a turquoise canvas for the dining room chairs (only needed half a yard for the piano bench and one yard for the chairs, but I thought it would be prudent to have extra, in case no one else liked what I picked out). The former was on sale for $7/yard, and the latter for… (doing math… 40% off of $9.99) $5.99/yard. So, quite cheap, all things considered.

Unfortunately, I did not find the fabric I was looking for that would be perfect for new curtains in our bedroom. Well, that’s not exactly true. I found some gorgeous silk Dupioni and a beautiful faux Dupioni (Shantung, I believe), but neither were on sale, and I wasn’t feeling the $15.99/yard vibe. Seeing as how we are not in desperate need of new curtains (there is a very ugly, but completely functional, roman blind hanging up right now), I just could not justify the expense. I was sad until I remembered that I now live quite near Hancock Fabrics.

So, back to last night. I went to Hancock Fabrics and once again spent way too long in a fabric store. However, I did find exactly what I was looking for. Kind of on sale, but… not enough to just impulse purchase. I took woefully inadequate pictures on the sly with my phone, of the price tag, the color, and texture, so that I could get approval. After wandering around the store for quite some time after that (there were sales that needed to be explored, and I had nowhere else to be, and I was trying to forget that I wanted to consume DQ), I happened upon the home decor remnant table.

And the heavens opened up and angels sang and all was right with the universe.

That is to say, right there on the table was the afore-mentioned perfect fabric, in the right color, sitting there asking me to take it home.

And so I did. For $2.99/yard, you don’t argue with fabric. You just do what it says.

So I now have 3 yards (!! way more than I needed, but at that price, I’ll figure out something to do with the rest of it) of chocolate brown silk Dupioni for less than $10. (Needless to say, I was unable to forget about DQ and we celebrated my find with Blizzards.)

Now, of course, there’s still lining fabric and hardware and a pulley system (they need to be functional blinds), but it is a great start towards having beautiful window treatments. I’m going to attempt Roman shades, which should be beautiful in the Dupioni. I’m still figuring out the proper embellishments so that it is both pretty and understated / casual. A hard line to walk.

If all goes well with sewing the Dupioni, I hope to buy a bunch more in ivory and re-do the curtains at the sliding glass door in our bedroom (so the window treatments will coordinate, but won’t be all matchy-matchy).

If only we could pick an actual color scheme for that room… I could paint! Alas, I am feeling quite thwarted by the walls in our new house. They want to be painted, I’m quite sure, but no one can agree on color. In time….

To reward you for reading this whole post, I’ll give you a picture. Remember when was lost two weeks ago? You think she’d learn her lesson, but no. This was taken not 12 hours after being released from the hall closet:

matea_doesnt_learn
In her defense, it was a totally different closet. 10 feet from the other one.

I slept the entire ride to work this morning

True story. I did wake up several times and panic about where I was (I kept thinking I’d missed my stop by 15 minutes).

So, Friday night I quilted up the mini quilt (which will be in the mail tomorrow) and then went to buy groceries for the potsticker party. I learned a couple of things. 1) Friday night at 8 pm is when all the moms come and do their shopping. Many of them with small kids, surprisingly. 2) It is nearly impossible to find ground pork. Ground bison? Ground veal? Ground lamb? Ground you-pick-the-animal, just not pig. Ground pork was only found in sausage flavors, which I thought would not be appropriate for potstickers. At Byerly’s, thankfully, they had a very small section of ground pork, and I bought half their stock. A whole 4 pounds.

Saturday was mostly consumed with, you guessed it, the making of potstickers.
and came over (the latter with my adorable baby nephew, who was perfect and giggly most of the time) and we cranked out nearly 200 potstickers. And I have filling leftover in my fridge to make 50-100 more. Amazing, I know. Complicated, detailed, but not actually hard. That’s not to say that any of the potstickers we made were pretty. That, they were not. But they were tasty. We cooked some up just to see. No pictures of the potstickers – as I said, they weren’t pretty. Later I’ll post some links to the recipes we used and the tutorial on folding (that we only kind of used).

I also mowed the lawn. Not really as exciting.

Sunday, after walking over to the library to pick up some books I’d requested, we went to Ikea, where I promptly purchased 4 wrong items. I’ve never done that before. I bought 6, 2 each of 3 things (drawer fronts, drawers, and shelves). Well, the drawers I bought were the 19″ deep ones instead of the 15″ ones, so they don’t fit in the shelving unit. The shelves were actually a different type of drawer. The only correct thing was the drawer fronts, which are completely useless without drawers to attach them to. So I’ll be going back to fix that mistake (they also only charged us for some of those items, not all of them – that’ll be a fun visit with customer service, don’tcha think?). I also picked up some of their privacy glass film – for a whopping $4.99, I’ll give it a shot. We found a small bookshelf for for our bedroom too.

The rest of the afternoon was spent putting together (and then taking apart) wrong Ikea things. And then we walked up to 66th and tried a new (to us) restaurant, East Buffet. gave it 6/10, and I’m prone to agree. Good enough to eat at again, but not to rave about. I definitely found some of the really bad things on the menu, though. Cheese-covered mussels? Cheesy seafood bake? Both quite disgusting. The stuffed mushrooms were edible, but blah. I do highly recommend the mushroom chicken though, and liked their General Tsao’s.

Sunday night I got the binding sewn onto the mini quilt, so it’s all done (except for a label, and pictures). Yay! Off to the post office tomorrow with it (to be sent all the way to Germany!).

I’m thinking tonight needs to involve some outside time, if the weather is as nice as I think it is (I’ve been locked in my cube since 7:30 this morning – I really have no idea what it’s like outside). Perhaps some quality time spent weeding.

Accomplishing a Goal

hammock
Last night, I was hard at work on one of my summer goals: spend more time in the hammock. Grueling, I know.
corner_closeup2
I was also hard at work on some embroidery, which I can only briefly mention because it may or may not be for someone who may or may not read this blog, and I want it to remain a secret (if that’s possible).

The next two pictures represent part of my field of vision last night while laying in the hammock.

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Embroidery floss on hammock
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Matea at the door

She can sit there for… what seems like hours, trying to make me feel guilty for being outside without her. I think it’s quite cute (and not at all guilt-inducing – if you’ve ever tried to take outside, you’d understand).

I did take a break to photograph some of the progress on our gardens, just for you. (I tried to get some pictures of birds while laying in my hammock, still and quiet, but it was just a little too late in the evening and though they were quite noisy, they wouldn’t come hang out in my tree. Next time, I guess.)

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Recently planted tomato plants

And here’s the shade garden in the front yard that used to be a mess.

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Front yard garden

Lots of progress! Not totally in love with it, but it will do for this year, and I’m sure our neighbors are much happier now.

I also got this great shot (well, great for me), which may replace the wallpaper on my desktop.

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Daylily

All the while, my new yogurt maker (a birthday present) was inside, hard at work growing bacteria. It was way harder to get the milk prepped than the little book led me to believe (instead of 1-2 minutes, it was almost 2 hours, which includes the cooling down time during which we ate dinner), but hopefully worth it. I checked it at 9 (halfway point) and it still looked just like milk in consistency, so I was a bit worried. Thankfully, bacteria multiplies exponentially (or something like that), and at 11, there was yogurt! It is now sitting in the fridge, and I haven’t tried it yet since it hadn’t been in there for a full 8 hours when I left for work this morning. Tonight, I’m going to turn the yogurt into “yogurt cheese” aka Greek-style yogurt. And then I will have lots of [hopefully] yummy yogurt. Really, lots! Half a gallon’s worth. It lasts for 3 weeks, though, so it should be alright. (One of the reasons I picked this particular yogurt maker [link removed] was that it made up a large quantity of yogurt, instead of six individual servings in glass containers, since I knew I wanted to make it Greek-style.) If it turns out good, I’ll have to hop on Amazon and buy more yogurt starter. Maybe I’ll try to find the probiotic one that the little booklet recommends.

Productivity

Despite the fact that all our floors are still in need of vacuuming, sheets need to be washed, the refrigerator is full of expired food, and the three boxes of clothing stacked up in our bedroom (that I keep promising to put away) remain where they’ve been for the past two months, I really was productive this weekend. I swear! I just… apparently chose to do only the fun things and none of the grown-up supposed-to things. Can’t win them all.

First, let me say that I adore 3-day weekends. There was a small problem with this one, in that I thought it began on Friday, and have been perpetually off one day ever since. I am going to be very sad this Friday when I realize I have to go to work. After a fairly quick bout with stomach illness Thursday night (during which I 1) wished to die, and 2) wished I knew how to throw up), which kept me up later than I preferred, I startlingly woke up early on Friday. Boo to that, I say. However, there was no getting back to sleep. So, I set out to cut the fabric I needed to finish a mini quilt for a swap and also for the Robert Kaufman test quilt.

and came over for lunch and the four of us ( came with) went out to Chipotle, after I was showered with birthday gifts (it’s like the holiday that never ends around here!). Then and I drove up to the always-awesome-though-completely-intimidating-and-a-bit-claustrophobic SR Harris to again attempt to find the fabrics we were looking for. We searched for blue and yellow fabric for ‘s kitchen re-do, and instead bought some green eyelet. (She painted on Sunday, and she loves the new colors, so the about-face was a good decision – I’m sure she doesn’t mind me telling all of that, since her blog has been long-abandoned.) I continued to look for the perfect fabric to re-cover our dining room chairs in, and again was thwarted. It should be noted that I found dozens of perfect fabrics that I was quite sure would be vetoed by due to their pink or otherwise girly nature. Alas, taking someone else’s opinion into consideration while decorating is not always easy (but always the way to go – I’ve lived in places that didn’t feel like “me,” and I don’t want to put anyone else in that situation).

Saturday I got my much-needed sleeping-in (and repeated this on Sunday), and then spent most of the day working on the Robert Kaufman test quilt, all the while making notes for feedback. We walked over to Veteran’s Park (~2 miles) to see the fireworks (our neighbors rode their bikes, and it seems like most of the city walked over, though there were plenty of streets packed with cars too – for a city of only 35,000, there sure was a huge turnout), which did not disappoint. Very excellent, and we will definitely be going back next year (and perhaps arriving a bit early to enjoy the carnival food).

Sunday I kept working on that quilt (all the blocks are now done – I only have the applique stitching left and then I can piece together the top), but I took a break in the afternoon to weed. I know, exciting. I wore my big floppy hat and stayed ahead (or behind) of the sun, and thus, though I didn’t have on a speck of sunscreen, didn’t get even a hint of color in my skin. We sure do have a lot of shade at our house. The bushes/shrubs are also now all pruned back from the grass line so we can attempt to grow grass there (instead of mud). I think I could spend an hour a day weeding and not be done for several weeks, if ever. Our previously un-tended garden areas are a bit wild and overrun, and though we keep pulling out weeds, they keep coming back. Hopefully one day we’ll get them under control. I am happy to note that our tomato plants and pepper plants are all looking good.

We also (and this is very exciting) hung some things up on the walls. My thread rack is now hanging by my sewing machine, my ironing board holder is on the door, and our wine rack (currently serving only as a wine glass rack, since wine resides in the wine cellar) is up in the dining room. It’s like we live here or something!

So, you see, while I really should have spent a good deal of time vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, clearing out the fridge, and doing laundry, I did manage to get a lot done. There will always be more laundry.

Oh, and because I never did get to that post on Friday, I’ll quickly say that my favorite holiday as a child was (and remains) Christmas. It’s the carols and the family traditions and ornaments and wished-for snow and everything else.

Sewing Machine Meme

Yesterday afternoon, I drove over to my local Creative Sewing Center and tried out new sewing machines. I didn’t buy one, because I’d been advised to try them out, get all the information, and then go home and think about it. I used the rest of the afternoon to try and find negative information about either of the models I was looking at. I didn’t find anything. Not a single complaint. Consequently, I feel pretty confident about my decision. We’re going back tonight to buy it (and I’ll tell you about the new one later).

Since I’m getting a new machine, and it’s still Sewing Machine Month over at Sew, Mama, Sew!, I thought I’d do this meme for my current machine.

What brand and model do you have?

Singer 5160, factory refurbished, purchased from Singer May 2008.

How long have you had it?

13 months.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?

With tax and shipping, it cost $114. Let’s just say, you get what you pay for.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?

I sew clothing (with limited success so far), quilts, and the occasional home dec project (I really like making pillowcases for some reason).

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

Some weeks, I get in several hours, and some I get none. It’s rare, but there have been times when I’ve had a big project and it gets a dozen or more hours of use a week.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

I passionately hate my machine (which is why I’ve not done this meme until now). It has had tension issues since the very beginning. It has been in for service twice, both within the first 6 months of owning it.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

It’s a really basic machine, so it does straight line sewing well (unless it’s having a bad day, in which case it doesn’t even do that). The special stitches are out of the question because of the tension issues. With my walking foot, it actually quilts quite well, and I have been pleased with that.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

The afore-mentioned tension issues. On newer sewing machines, you can only adjust the top thread tension (the very old machine I used to use had top and bottom adjustments). In order to make a secure stitch, the tension on the top thread has to be at the very highest setting it can possibly be. The stitch length also has to be relatively short. Forget about using special stitches (zig-zag anyone? no), different thread in the top and bottom, sewing down elastic, or looking at it wrong.

Usually, when I’m having a tension problem, it is because the thread falls out of one of the places where it’s supposed to be. It has a favorite place where it likes to do this. Unfortunately, due to the nature of said issue, the problem only appears on the underside of the fabric, so you can sew quite a distance before realizing the problem. And then you have to rip out stitches.

Last week, it decided that the $40-worth of fabric I was using to make my shower curtain was not worthy of sewing, and despite being threaded correctly etc, would not sew a seam. After ripping out stitches for the second (or third? I forget) time, and not wanting to do damage to said valuable fabric, I declared my hatred for the machine and vowed to get a new one. (Yes, it really was as dramatic as I’m making it sound. It is really frustrating to want to finish a relatively easy project and not be able to. It was ridiculous, and I didn’t want to deal with its crap anymore.)

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

No funny stories. My Singer has been used to make a lot of great projects, including ‘s quilt for his big-boy bed, several mini quilts, and lots of pillow cases. There have been a few successful clothing items, though more often there are fit issues (the last jacket I made was about 4 sizes too big, while the pants I’d made from the same pattern fit perfectly). I’m looking forward to sewing more clothing with my new machine, mostly because some of the features it has will make it much easier to sew curved seams and really take my time to do it right.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Absolutely not. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend any cheap Singer (though I know that also purchased a factory-refurbished Singer and hasn’t had problems with it). It is a tolerable machine if it’s only going to get used a little bit, or if you’re trying out sewing to see if you like it. But if you know what you’re doing and plan on using it a lot, just shell out the money for a mid-level one (currently $4-600). It’s important to note that Creative Sewing Center doesn’t sell any low-end machines, and they didn’t have any Singers that weren’t embroidery machines (which are much more expensive and appear to be much sturdier).

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

Reliability, reliability, reliability. My new machine is being purchased at Creative Sewing Center, and they stand behind all of their machines. The one-year warranty is through them, not the manufacturer, and consequently they only sell the good stuff. (They also provide free lessons for the entire time you own the machine, which is pretty cool. And after your warranty is up, they will still service it, just not for free. They’ll service machines not purchased at their stores, as well. I wasn’t really looking for features (everything I wanted would be available on all the machines, with the exception of a lock stitch, which was not that important), but a machine that will last me several decades.

The two machines that I’ve been comparing have virtually all of the same features (a Brother and a Janome). They both have much smoother movement than my Singer (which shakes the desk it’s on when I use it too fast), and can be operated completely without the pedal. I love that the stitch speed is controlled by a dial on the machine and not my foot. They also have a needle up – needle down button, which is nice. The Brother has a few more features that provide more flexibility, which is why, in the end, I’ve decided to go with it (more decorative stitches, automatic threading, automatic tension, automatic buttonholer, option to use the pedal to control the speed or just use the buttons). Both seemed very hardy machines (we sewed through 6 layers of denim with no problem whatsoever).

Do you have a dream machine?

Right now, I’m dreaming of my new Brother Innov’is 80, though I haven’t actually purchased it yet. I’m mildly intrigued by sergers, but since my clothing ventures have not yet been very successful, it wouldn’t really be worth the investment. I’m not interested at all in embroidery, which adds a lot to the price of a machine (more features = more expensive), so I’m pretty happy with what I’m looking at in my price range. If I wanted to go up several hundred dollars (or cross the $1000 threshhold) there are other brands to look at and more machines, but as of yet I can’t come up with a good reason to do so. I’m guessing that anyone who sews for a living, or makes all of their family clothing or something could find great value in a more expensive machine, but that’s not me.

Let me just add that shopping for a machine at Creative Sewing Center is a dream. I walked in and was the only customer, and the woman who helped me was nothing but patient and explained everything. She knew all of the machines well, asked all the right questions, gave great advice (both about the machines and what to do post-purchase), and was totally OK with me not buying a machine after spending an hour with her. My only complaint is that they don’t have a website, but she told me they are working on getting an email system set up so they can send out newsletters electronically instead of via the mail. (Also, they sell and service vacuum cleaners, so if you’re in need of one of those, it’s one-stop shopping!)

Edited to add: I actually purchased the Brother NX-250. Prices changed on Monday, so for $10 more than I was planning on spending, I got a full-size machine with a lot more room and power. And I love it!

Meh

You know, if I didn’t think it was too dorky (which is not a long walk from where I am), I’d totally get a “meh” shirt, especially since that is how I’ve been feeling lately. That word floated around the internet for years and I ignored it. Somehow it wormed its way into my life recently and I’ve even said it outloud a few times. Late to the party, as usual.

Yesterday, I woke up late (6:00) and thought about the prospect of going to work, and my answer was: meh. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I lay in bed trying to think of a reason to go, some project that needed me, or work that needed to be completed, and I came up blank. Didn’t even have to answer phones. So, I dragged (drug?) myself out of bed and emailed a few co-workers and my boss, saying I wasn’t feeling well. It was the truth.

It actually turned out good because the city inspector was coming to the house to check the new circuit we had installed for the washer/dryer in the basement. The time frame we were given? 12-5. Lovely. So, I stayed home, and didn’t have to take the afternoon off work. In all, the inspector arrived at about 2:30 and stayed less than 5 minutes. Everything checked out great, as expected.

I also spent almost three hours in my office, fixing the paint that had bled under the blue painter’s tape. Painstakingly detailed work (and I had to do it with two separate colors, since I now have three colors in the room – but no pictures yet, so you’ll have to take my word for it), but work that I absolutely had to do. There was no way around it, no leaving it as-is. The center stripe (where all the bleeding is) sits at 36″ from the floor, which is eye-level if I’m sitting at my desk sewing or using the computer. I wouldn’t have been able to stand staring at it all the time. Plus, it really did bleed a lot. It’s not like I was being a perfectionist. The touch-up turned out great, and now the lines look crisp and clean. But, man did that hurt my body. Not a comfortable thing to do. Watched several episodes of Monk while doing it, so not entirely unenjoyable.

This means, of course, that the shelving unit can be mounted to the wall tonight (to keep it from tipping over), and I can finally put fabric away (which means getting rid of 6 boxes that are sitting in the room presently). The paint has all cured (except for the touch-ups I did yesterday), so I can also hang stuff on the walls, and all the switch plate and outlet covers have been re-attached. All that’s left (besides the organizing and putting away of stuff) is to paint some art on the walls. I suppose that means I should make up my mind.

I also swept our driveway, which is about as exciting as it sounds. I will be so glad when the maple trees stop dropping those little helicopters, because they are impossible to sweep up. Our trees have quite a few dead branches (that are way high up, so I have yet to attack them with pruning shears), so every time it gets windy, there are little branches all over the ground. The lawn mower, of course, does not like this (but it’s not nearly as bad as the rocks in all of the gardening areas, which are constantly sneaking out of their area into the grass – says, “oh yeah, they’ll do that” – just another reason to get rid of all those rocks).

After dinner, came over, and we drove up to ‘s. We were supposed to be returning some stuff she left at our house, and picking up some extra tomato plants. Totally forgot the bag of stuff, though. Got the tomatoes. The three of us drove over to SR Harris and got lost in the warehouse of fabric for an hour or so. was the only one to find what she was looking for, unfortunately for the rest of us.

Today, my neck is still sore from the painting yesterday (I know it’s that because it’s in a different place from where my neck/shoulders are usually store/stiff). But, on a happy note, the nail polish I applied on Tuesday is still on my fingernails and has hardly chipped, which is unheard of for me. FYI, there’s a lovely turquoise-y shade that’s quite popular this year (I know because almost every brand had a version of it), and it actually looks good and flattering, and not at all juvenile. You might want to give it a shot, if you’re a nail polish-wearing sort of girl (or guy – I don’t judge).

I am feeling “meh” about the rest of the afternoon. There is a very good reason that some companies give their employees Friday afternoons off in the summer (or “beer Fridays” – it really does happen). Very good indeed. (Not that the government could ever partake in such a thing. Taxpayers and the media would be all over that in a heartbeat. However, if we were forced to take furlough, I’d have no problem using it on Friday afternoons in the summer. No news about that until the “new year,” which is July 1.)

Deep Sighs

Only figuratively, of course. I’ve had a stuffed nose (minor) for… weeks? months? I’ve lost track. A new symptom showed up a few days ago, though – my left ear is kinda stopped. And yes, I have tried swallowing. Doesn’t work. WebMD seems to think I might have sinusitis, but you know what, I don’t really feel like dealing with a doctor right now, so I’m going to chalk it all up to allergies.

But, on the figurative side, things are going swimmingly. I wrote my second paper last night, so and I went for a walk. Tonight I’ll get that last one done, and then next Tuesday or Wednesday I might take 15 minutes to study for the quiz on Thursday. The paper I turned in for my online class has been graded and returned, and unless I get 5/25 points on the last discussion (which is highly unlikely), I have an A in that class. We’re on track with packing, have reserved a moving van, and have both closings scheduled (though the second one is only tentative).

Last night when we got back from our walk, I decided to sew the zipper into that dress I’d been making. Well, that did not go well, but finally, after a lot of pain, it is in, beautifully. And I’ve decided I just don’t like the dress and will just take it apart, salvage whatever fabric I can, and move on. Best to decide this before hemming, right? Bummer.

It’s Administrative Professional’s Day, so I have a gorgeous gift from sitting here. She got these awesome Thermos Brand coolers that look like purses (but are lunch bags! and huge!) and filled them with a new water bottle, some chocolates, and flowers. I feel very appreciated. I also got a bar of chocolate from another co-worker, and a note of thanks from a third. Tomorrow there’s a party too, so it’s just all sorts of fun over here. (Well, aside from the hours and hours of tedious coding I’ve been fixing as a result of our name change. That is no fun. And my hand hurts.)

9 days to the new house! 8 days to the end of the semester!

Minty

I finally remembered to bring the bag of Wintergreen Lifesavers I had bought to work, and now I’m minty fresh. Better than snacking on chocolate-caramel-peanut Turtles, right?

I worked on two of my papers this weekend and got all the research, quotes, and Works Cited parts done. Now I just have to write them. Also, since I have the wrong version of the textbook for my online class, the readings I had left for it (Chapter 16) are not in my book, and so I don’t have any reading left. Yay!

and I went shopping for a washer and dryer Friday night – I know, aren’t we exciting? We picked out a nice set (didn’t buy them, though… more on that in a bit), only to come home and find out that it was an HE (High Efficiency) washer, which means special laundry detergent. Well, I’m quite attached to my laundry detergent (All Free & Clear, recommended by my dermatologist), as it doesn’t make me itch (and we know how unhappy I am when I itch), and it was my one requirement for a washer (other than please no almond or black units). But, we looked it up, and my detergent does come in an HE variety, so we were happy with that. Now we just have to measure the spot at the new house, call an electrician to install an outlet, call a plumber to install the correct hookups, and then install the washer/dryer. Thankfully, it will totally be worth the effort when it’s done. (Who wants the washer/dryer in the kitchen? Not us. Apparently a lot of people love having the washer/dryer on the main level, but we are not those people.)

More boxes were packed and taken to storage, as well as a lot of stuff from the garage. We’re running out of things to pack that won’t disrupt our lives, which is good, because if you check the countdown timer over there –> you’ll see there are 11 days until we move. 11! It’s good that’s a small number, because we’d really like to be there now and have this all done. And then we can start mowing the lawn. Ah, the joys of home ownership (when you don’t live in a planned community or one with an association that takes care of all the exterior stuff for you).

Baby sent us a nice card this weekend announcing his birth. 🙂

Class on Wednesday night was canceled. Originally it was supposed to be a library research night, and I was going to take advantage of that and skip class (and write the paper), since I have perfect attendance otherwise. (Perfect attendance, perfect GPA… teachers love me!) The professor decided to change plans and have us come in to class and give presentations instead (there was great complaining about this, since most people have a huge fear of public speaking), on an informal basis and not for a grade, but required nonetheless. This morning he canceled class for this week, since he will be out of town attending a funeral. So… plan A (skipping class to write the paper) is back on, kind of.

I’m not going to know what to do with myself when I run out of homework. Conveniently, there will be a house with lots of work to be done and many, many, many boxes to unpack, right after classes end. Knitting (tendinitis) and embroidery (finger callouses) and sewing (back pain) can only take up so many hours of the day before my body refuses to cooperate anymore.

Lastly, I finished the log cabin quilt for the Mini Quilt in a Bag swap, getting the last of the binding taken care of last night. And, I think I’m nearing the end of the first panel of the baby blanket I started out knitting for ‘s baby (you know, the one who was born right around the time we got married). So, I’m almost 1/3 of the way done with that. Have I mentioned they just announced they’re pregnant again? Clearly I’ve got some issues with completing baby blankets (though, in my defense, I did have tendinitis issues for quite some time that prevented me from knitting, and I’ve only recently taken it back up again).

Eyelids

In spite of my best attempts to avoid it, I have been spending a lot of my time today looking at the back of my eyelids. I’m having a hard time staying awake. I’m often tired at work, but not so much so that I can nap sitting up, staring at my computer. Now would be a really good time for caffeine, if only….

Last night I finished piecing the top for the Mini Quilt in a Bag 2 swap. It looks really good. A hot iron with lots of steam helped make that happen. Tomorrow I’ll piece the back, and sandwich the whole thing up, and it should be in the mail by Saturday, I hope (the deadline is Monday).

There was also a trip to the gym (the first since January), brownies (I found a box that “expired” last month, so made them up after dinner), and the start of a new embroidery project. No pictures of anything, though. There was also some split pea soup from the crockpot, which turned out well, though a little mushy (perhaps because I let the legumes sit in the liquid in the refrigerator overnight, perhaps because that’s how it’s supposed to be). liked it though, so that’s good. It was a basic Better Homes & Gardens recipe, so perhaps with some tweaking I’d like it better. Maybe bacon instead of ham….

Today, goes to the doctor and schedules the birth of her baby boy (sometime next week). I’ve been trying to be better at turning on the ringer of my cell phone when I’m at home, in case she goes into labor early. It’s not expected, but you never know. I’d hate to miss out on that phone call.

There are 9 pictures of posted in my cube right now. How will I ever make room for pictures of a new baby (who still doesn’t have a name)? I’m going to need more push pins.

Today might be a “cleaning the cube” day. is out all week, and left me with very little to do. I need to take care of what’s in my inbox, but that’s about it. Oh, and eat the brownie that’s sitting here, waiting for me to finish lunch. Yum!

Tonight, I’m getting together with my girls (affectionately re-tagged here as “wonder women“) and . We’re meeting at TGIFriday’s for dinner and margaritas (I’m assuming the latter, perhaps incorrectly), and then will head across the street to the MOA for some shopping. I haven’t seen either of them since January, so there should be plenty to catch up on.

Lastly, I have new shoes. And they’re wonderful. Have I touted my love for Clarks “unstructured” line yet? I don’t see in my archives that I have. Let me tell you, they’re well worth the money, and they’re currently on sale. No break-in time for women’s dress shoes? Priceless.