Monday Is Washday

Monday is washdayCan you imagine having to go to this extreme to get your clothes clean?

The neighbor through the fields had a wringer washer while Ms. SpoolTeacher’s mother had a washer that had a spin cycle. It was much more fun to watch the wringer washer work.

These days, the Tiny House Movement is bringing them back into fashion; the tubs with the plunger and a wringer.

Ms. SpoolTeacher does have a washer with a spin cycle. It is old, old, old. It’s a Kenmore. Her mother bought it used, and when it broke down, she and Ms. ST shared the expense of repairing it since Ms. ST did her laundry there often while helping her mother with other things. Ms. SpoolTeacher inherited it when her mother passed. She has used it now for the19 years she has had it. She can still hear her mother say, “Did you wipe the lid down?” She never does anymore, but was faithful to do so for her mother. The washer clunks now, but Ms. SpoolTeacher intends to use it until it dies and then try to revive it once again. Otherwise she may have to try the plunger. hanging clothes on the line

She does hang her clothes on a line though, unless it is something black for which the sun and wind won’t remove the lint enough and it is a dress-up something black. Otherwise, it all goes to the line and the crispiness and crinkles she is now fond of as well as the wonderful fresh smell. If it is about to rain, all the better as it will rinse them one more time with soft rainwater and get more of the detergent and crinkles out. She doesn’t iron much either. How to hang clothes on a clothesline “Don’t leave clothes pegs on the line – That’s sloppy.” Ms. SpoolTeacher is “sloppy”.

The good old White sewing machineMs. SpoolTeacher has had her sewing machine since she was 16. It was a Christmas present she insisted her mother buy her when she saw her mother getting one for her older sister who was getting ready to leave home and who really didn’t like sewing, never sewed, all the while Ms. ST was filled to capacity with a desire to sew, sew, sew.

Her mother thought every girl should have a sewing machine for survival. Well, she’s here to tell you it has served her survival well. She likes mechanical machines, not computerized. One with moving parts that can be repaired.

Cams for different stitchesThis day, good old faithful White sewing machine was working on repairs for a gentleman who brings Ms. ST all his worn out tattered things for second life, (sometimes third or even forth lives).

She had done this repair before, but has perfected it…adding patches to the knees of old jeans.

Gentleman had brought two pairs this day and one to use for the patches. two legs of different pairs, each needing a patch

The leg with the hole will get a patch. The other will wait for a hole.

She set about cutting patches from the old pair. That pair had had patches put on sometime earlier so she cut one of those patches out to use as a pattern.

Previous patch used as a patternUsing the back of the legs of the worn out jeans, she made the new patch a little longer than the old patch.

opening the inside seam She opens the seam that isn’t “flat felled” because otherwise the leg is inaccessible by the machine. The patch is placed over the worn section placing the long side so that it will overlap the seam that will be restitched later. This way, a whole side of the patch will be taken in with the seam and not be vulnerable to fraying.

She then sets up her machine with the stretch stitch cam and sets the stitch length to it’s longest length and stitch width to it’s widest (as required for the stretch stitch).

Lucy supervising  Lucy supervises.

using a cutting board to pin the patch  She pins the patch on using a “kitchen cutting pad” (it’s hard to pin on the soft pad of the ironing board and keep it from attaching to the other side of the leg) and uses the stretch stitch to secure the three exposed sides of the patch and a regular straight stitch for the part that will be in the seam.

gray thread matches bestIt’s hard to see the stretch stitch that is used on the three exposed sides as the gray thread matches the jeans color pretty will. As it turned out, none of the blue colors in her collection came as close to being “invisible” as did the gray. Oh, and, very important..she uses a heavy duty needle, a “jeans needle” if she has one.

while sewing the machine frozeJust as she was humming along, the needle froze in a down position. The only way to release it was to take the bobbin out. While doing so, she cleaned all the parts before putting them back. It helped a lot. It ran much more smoothly thereafter.

now to re-stitch the broken seam  Now to re-stitch the broken seam. Turn pants wrong side out, match edges and spool them back together.The patch sandwiched between to layers of pants  Here you can see the patch sandwiched between the two layers of pants and to be secured within the seam.

Good for another go 'roundRight side out…easy peasy, a repaired old pair of jeans. Good for another go ’round.

The moral of the story? Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

She thinks it’s time to become a consumer-less society  Consume less. Years ago, when Ms. SpoolTeacher was miserable at work, wondering how she could get through another day of doldrums and thinking about hanging clothes on a line with a sense of leisure…it dawned on her that if she didn’t have so many needs, she wouldn’t have to work as much. This started when her company (then, Home Depot) in it’s attempts to reduce costs, started offering its “associates” the opportunity to use sick days to take time off (when the company needed it instead of when you needed it). They even got to a point where they offered associates to go home without pay if they so chose. Ms. ST jumped at every chance. She was so, so, so, so miserable. Before long, she was making ends meet with $6,000 less a year. She kept pushing the envelope until she was able to take her 401K earnings and quit altogether. She was lucky she did it just before the crash and the “economy” extracted more wealth from it’s citizens to keep up their ponzi schemes.

Ms. SpoolTeacher is a firm believer that a bird in the hand is way more valuable than two in the bush; i.e., take the money and run for your life. Make up your own life on the fly. Don’t worry, be happy. Why “work” for things that really don’t make you happy.

And a sewing machine is essential for survival. At least it has been for her.

Growing food is like printing moneyGrowing food is like printing money. Cherry tomatoes were $3.99 for a small box this week at Safeway. Free, free, free from Ms. SpoolTeacher’s First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy and all she has to do is step outside and troll the front yard for “ripies”.

“Go on, take the money and run.”

Sheer Sample Swatches

Sheer Swatches Patchwork Ensemble

Ms. SpoolTeacher spent most of her employed career working in Clients homes, helping them design their interior spaces. At least 50% of those efforts were focused on window covering ideas. This endeavor was almost always the foot-in-the-door to other work. People would first visit the store she was working for wanting to know  what to do for their windows. Privacy is always a first concern in new building. Often that would evolve into whole house planning; floors, walls, windows, furnishings and accessories.

She loved her work, she just didn’t much like working for someone else. Most owners of stores only want top dollars fast. They usually didn’t care much for quality of design as long as something expensive/high profit got sold. Ms. SpoolTeacher, on the other hand, was still learning and wanted to hone her skills to produce quality work with integrity to establish a good reputation.

One of her employers even told her once in a review session to, “Just give them anything. Whatever you give them will be better than whatever they could come up with for themselves.”

Well, so, sometime down the road when she’d had about as much of that as she could stand, she opened her own little storefront and purchased tons of sample books so that she would have lots of wonderful choices for her customers. She even purchased1-1/2 yard segments of particular fabrics she favored so her clients would be able to handle large pieces and see the real value of choosing quality over price.

Now that she is semi-retired, she is trying to find a way to utilize all of those wonderful sample books and pieces. She sees lots of great ideas on Etsy that she is sure people have been using the same kind of resources to make their products.

Etsy Swatch Sample PurseThis is an adorable little purse from WhimsyEyeDesigns on Etsy:

  • Handmade item
  • Materials: repurposed upholstery fabric, cotton, new materials
  • Ships worldwide from New Berlin, Wisconsin (USA)

Wonderful things there and totally inspiring to Ms. SpoolTeacher. She could spend all day looking to see what others have made, but she must get going on ideas of her own.

Cardboard boxOne day her muse pushed her to grab a sample book of sheers to see what she could do with it. She had an idea in her head and went with it. She would cut squares out, all the same size, as big as the sample book pieces would allow. The first template she made was 5″X5″ but wasn’t to her liking, (it didn’t “feel” right) so she increased it to 6″X6″. Much better and took more of the sample.

6X6 inche template from chipboardShe had already torn apart the book and washed the sample pieces. Now to iron them.

She does this to get the chemicals off, and hopes that whatever she makes will be washable so tests it before making it.

Off to a good start. Most all of the samples performed well under the stress of the washing machine and iron. Now to cut them, assemble in a pleasing manner and put them together.

using the chipboard template to mark the swatches using the chipboard template to mark the swatches. Outline with marker first, then cut inside the line using the chipboard template to mark the swatches. Outline with marker first, then cut inside the line All of the sheer sample swatches cut out ready to assemble Using intuition to place the textures and colors

The template is placed on the sample swatch and outlined. Ms. SpoolTeacher used a black magic marker as she didn’t know where her washable marker was. She then cut inside the lines.

It is somewhat important to determine the right and wrong sides of the fabrics where possible. Sometimes the choice is to use the wrong side if it happens to appeal to your senses more. It’s art. It’s your choice.

Using her wonderful Fiskars scissors she cut each piece out inside the black line. Sheer is hard to handle and a rotary blade doesn’t give her the control she likes. Besides, the blades are just too expensive and “No hurry, no worry” is her constant refrain/mantra.

All of the sheer sample swatches cut out and ready to assemble. Next, how to “order” them.

Ms. SpoolTeacher just depends on her intuition and places them as it pleases her senses. She tried to alternate like colors at equal intervals.

Now, the way she would seam them would be to use a full 5/8″ seem allowance but first she would stitch wrong sides together using 2/8″ (1/4″) of the 5/8″ allowance then press a nice crisp edge, place right sides together and stitch the next 3/8″ to enclose the raw edges of the first seam. Here’s a nice “how-to” for making a French seam.

Pictures speak much louder than words to a right brain (myth) artist type. Well they do to Ms. SpoolTeacher anyway.

Ready, set, spool

Her sewing machine is set up in her living room currently. This is where she meets and greets clients and there is a little room off the end with a drapery door for dressing for fittings and this room stays the coolest as it is on the north side of the house. She gets to look outside the window at the garden too and catch birds doing what they don’t do when she’s out there with them…

The Garden view from the sewing machine station in the living room

It’s messy looking but she makes the most of what she has.

This is her First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy. If you click the link, it will take you to her Facebook page for it.

After the samples were all pinned wrong sides together, she made the 1/4″ seam.

Spooling the 1/4This seam will be encased after she turns it right sides together, presses a nice crisp edge and takes the other 3/8″ seam. That is a French seam.


1/4″ seam allowance with wrong sides together. You can see how delicate and how easily the fabric frays. This kind of fabric is very hard to do a zig-zag edge on and for how it will be used, this kind of seam can almost be a design feature.

Front and back sides of finished French seam

Here is the front and back sides of the finished French seam.

Front and back sides of finished French seam

The finished seam could be further stitched down if desired.

Now what to do with it?

As it turned out, she realized she has several pieces she overlooked that she will do the same thing with and add to this segment.

She thinks she will add this to the bottom edge of a dress she has long imagined to make using the patten that she features in the header of this blog..

This is Ms. SpoolTeacher’s favorite (“Tent”) dress from High School days and she has long wanted to remake it adjusting the pattern for a lower neckline and the sleeve holes tapered in more.

Ms. SpoolTeacher's favorite dress from High School days

Or, she may order this pattern and make the sheer over dress part using the patchwork as a feature on the bottom edge.

sheer over dress

It could make a scarf with additional fabric added to the width. It could be used somewhere (middle) on a drapery panel for a peek-a-boo feature.

There are no end of ideas.

Where Women Create Studio transformation progress

Now what to do with the other gazillion sample swatches…

Any ideas?

Today is Sunday and it’s raining. She was about to water the garden when there it came. Wonderful rain.

Rainy days and Sundays….

“Rainy days and Mondays…run and find the one who loves me”

Purple Shocks

honeymoon in Laguna Beach, CAI wanted to believe it wouldn’t matter that I hadn’t turned out special, perfect
He’d remember us and love me anyway (again, still) –
But we were both so different,
28 years ago we were still young and fresh.
I remember his arms feeling big and strong around me and loving as they caressed, so softly all the rolling curves of my body.
He would hop and skip as we walked almost as if in a state of delight.
Arm over my shoulder – me just a little shy of tucking comfortably under his arm pit.
Very often we would pull each other close and turn slightly in to kiss and hug –
hardly able to stand the space between us.
We floated up steep inclines at Laguna Beach for the few days that we stayed there
The adrenaline of love flowing so freely that no effort caused any struggle.
Our honeymoon, I’d recall it later as.
Eating at wonderful restaurants
Starring into each other’s faces
Yakking and yakking about everything, nothing under the sun.

Here he was again knocking on my door –
So to speak –
Asking me if he could come in again –
No knowing for how long –
Telling me all about his life and Kay, now Kate he called her
And all their children together.
Life had gone on –
They all continued to know him –
To have him –
I had had to let go.
I hadn’t wanted to.
But I guess all things work out as they should –
It seems.
It can seem altogether too hard then suddenly make perfect sense and all the pain melt into an explanation of why it had to have been as it was.

Purple shocks
He mocked them
Purple socks
They were my purple socks, but they went with his new, slightly purple slacks and he was trying to become more attuned to fashion
And be adventurous
Be free to be

purple shocks, purple socksI hemmed his new pants as we talked, and yakked in the room at the Surf and Sand Motel
The waves relentlessly rushing in amid our sentences

Laguna Beach, CA, Surf and Sand MotelGoing to dinner, we were getting dressed up so we would feel the essence of our specialness
Wearing our new things, hemming our new things, together, for each other.
Learning to temper infatuation with reality, trying to fathom the possibility of this new passion lasting,

Going to dinner, we were getting dressed up so we would feel the essence of our specialnessIt would take 14 years for me to get on with anything like a semblance of life

Fourteen years of trying to find myself without him.
We would only manage to fight for 3 or 4 years and then drag the thread of our narrative  out to span the time of 6 or 7 years thereafter.
First it would be 6 weeks.
Then 2 months.
A year would go by,
A call in the night.
The familiar gruffness of his voice would lure me into his spell for another year to pass again with just a night together in between…
Then 2 years..
Then 3…
Then I lost track
of when he came again.

Because I had met a new man,
a tall, dark, curly-haired devil.
I am still trying to find the essence of me without thinking it would be better with him now.
But in between this new man and another 15 years
The gruff voice called me and wondered if we could spend a day or two together.

And then there he was at my door. I saw him as he got out of his rented car.
I said to myself, “oh no, that is not him”. And wondered if I could get through 2 days.

It can seem altogether too hard then suddenly make perfect sense and all the pain melt into an explanation of why it had to have been as it was.

I had been in love with the life, the style of life, the solitude we had living in a trailer at the top of the hill at his motorcycle park.
I loved sweeping the floors while he ran the tractor and I could look out the window to see his dog following him up the steep hill chasing a rabbit while he took the moguls out of the dirt or put them in.
I loved the sound of the train in the distance and the plans I would make in my head of a vegetable garden.
And the sound of the rain tapping the tin roof and of us making love,
And his soft blue eyes
Looking at me as if I was a princess.

a princessWe spent 2 days and I think he had as much trouble getting through it as I did.
Then we said goodbye.
It was a very sad goodby. It was goodbye to a dream. I think it was sadder for me. He had never really felt the same way about it as I had.
It was gone. It was finally over.

Now I just found a picture of the newer man in among the things that I was trying to organize, get rid of or put in their proper places.
I put it in a plastic cover and hung it with a paper clip over the label holder of my file cabinet.
It is staring at me regularly now so I can turn and look at it and dream of a new
vegetable garden.
I have known him now for 15 years and it has been the same. A few wonderful moments between long hours and years.
I guess that is the way I am.

I have 2 dogs and no children. I have 2 cats and 5 canaries. They all keep me pretty happy.
I get dressed up now to go to the grocery store. I take them in the car with me because they want to go.
Just the dogs.
I wish it were different.
I wish I were in love and he loved me too.
I wish I had a man who made me feel like I was a princess just because he was so happy to be with me and that he would put up with my little things.
Like how much I love purple. Like that I still have those purple shocks
Like how I analyze everything and want to talk and the dogs sleep on the bed
And my hair is gray when not a bottle blonde.
Love is blind. Holding hands the electricity creates a static that keeps us together.
Now comes the call I can hear his smile and we talk and talk about nothing and everything.
He is writing a story about Sardichi the Coyote.
And he wants to know if I think he should just call it Sardichi or Sardichi the Coyote.
I said “Sardichi” and I look forward to hearing his smile on the phone.
More so than any other smile.
He’s my favorite voice, next to Debbie.
Maybe even more than Debbie now. I think he will be more favorite than Debbie if he finally comes and stays
And helps me plant the vegetable garden.
No disrespect to you Debbie.

I guess it is about time to meet a new man.
Maybe if the old new man with the nice phone smile would come to see me I could finally say, “Oh no, that is not him”, and I would realize again that
It can seem altogether too hard then suddenly make perfect sense and all the pain melt into an explanation of why it had to have been as it was.

It is important to keep the dream.
The vegetable garden
Purple shocks
Tin roofs
Making Love
Hugs and Kisses
A nice phone smile.

Come to me again you curly-haired devil
And bring Sardichi the Coyote
But this time, plan to spend a little while.
I’m through with about you?
Come sing to me like a chick monk when we speed the recorder up.
I’ll sweep the floors while you run the tractor
This time it will be because I love you and not just the dream.
15 years and counting.
Don’t make me look for a new man. As if. As if I could.
It may seem altogether too hard then suddenly make perfect sense.