About Ms. SpoolTeacher

Ms. SpoolTeacher is a Designer by career profession, a seamstress by passion, a teacher by osmosis. She's very intent on getting off the grid and loves to participate in anything that uses resources that already exist. She is aka Ms. Jackie of all Trades. She can be found expounding around at any of a number of places, click the vintage pattern Gravatar image to see where Ms. SpoolTeacher expounds around.

Product Development Deployment

Boho drapery sample patch purse

The idea of developing a product is to come up with something that can be sold…at a profit.

For the most part, she enjoys the whole process; but two days and probably sixteen hours into it, she wonders why she puts herself through this grueling process. 16 hours times $10 an hour (her minimum mentally acceptable labor rate) is $160. Debra Dorgan wouldn’t hesitate to ask this much, but Ms. SpoolTeacher is not of that caliber, at least not yet. As a matter of fact, it was viewing Debra’s lovely things on Etsy that had gotten Ms. SpoolTeacher’s muse all jazzed up to sew. That and the weather. And that most of her winter seeds had been sown. Oh sure, there were lots of projects available to do on the First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy agenda, but it was time to start thinking about earning more income.

During the summer monsoons, all of the sample books on the top shelf under her patio cover had gotten wet from leaks that occur along the joint where the cover meets the house. She had pulled them all apart and was washing and drying them to use for projects such as this one that got in her mind to do.

This day, two days ago, she was sorting samples that had finished drying suddenly two samples got her muse activated so she started work immediately.

Making a pleatThe front and back of the bag would be two colors of the same print and the sides would be a stripe piece cut in half.

She decided to make a pleat at the bottom edge to add interest and keep it from being a boring rectangle.

Her design plan was to utilize as much of the sample piece as possible. two inches up, one inch in

To make the pleat, she measured two inches up and one inch in and stitched the line. Then the pleat is pressed so that the middle meets the seam.

pleat detailThe next design decision was which side would go with the red and which with the blue. These things are more important than you would think. yellow, red, blue, yellow

Yellow, red, yellow, blue. That way the sides separate from the main body, visually.

She had sewn them together so that the bottom edges were all even so she measured all across the four pieces to make them even at the top as well, then seamed the final two edges together to form a rectangle.

The next decision was what to use for the bottom.

She laid the “rectangle” on a stack of clean samples and started flipping through them until one “felt” right.deciding on a bottom

The lining was made using all of the same measurements she’d just done making the shell.

She intentionally made all of the seams on the right side of the fabric because she wanted to use a ragged edge as a feature. As it turned out, she realized she’d rather have stitched the lining to the shell pieces before seaming them together as then the lining would have also shown in the ragged edge. This is product development. Next one, she will use that technique to improve the results.  The lining was all cut from one big piece of satin she’d ordered a yard and a half of for her store years ago. Orange with dots woven into it.

Lining made and stitched to the outer shellIn the process of building the lining, pockets were added and as it turned out, they seemed too close to the edge so a decision was made to add a top piece that would increase the height as well as cover the raw edges.

Picking a piece for the top edgeThis piece was cut into three sections and seamed together. Again, you learn through the process. When she went to make the handles, she realized that a bias joint would have been better. It shows less.

bias join rather than a straight joinIt’s very hard to explain the labor steps involved in constructing anything that is sewn. There seem to be a million little steps that are taken that are invisible to the final product.

Ms. SpoolTeacher was thinking through the whole process, “Maybe it would be better to hold a ‘build-a-bag class’ rather than try to sell them already made.” But, that has a whole ‘nother set of problems.

She’ll just make a few more and see where it goes. The first one is always the hardest. A lot of the “bugs” get ironed out in the process.

Ragged edge after washingFor instance, this little side pocket that seems rather lacking in function now that the whole thing is made; but even so, it adds interest. Maybe a place for a little list for the store, something that wouldn’t be devastating if it were lost.

She was real happy with how the ragged edge turned out. To make a secure seam, she used her stretch stitch so that even after clipping close to the seam, there were still plenty of stitches securing it. It sure would have been pretty with the orange showing. Product development deployment can sometimes have disappointments. A lot to be happy with though, as well. Slouchy angle showing lining

Product Development Deployment

Now she thinks she will add some decorative buttons to secure the straps to the top band. After adding elastic to crinkle it up, the top folds in some getting in and out of it.

Sixteen hours and counting…

When the muse gets a hold of her, it can sometimes turn into madness.

A Magnificent Obsession kind of madness.

Magnificent Obsession

Muse: Madness
Deploy: bring into effective action; utilize.
“they are not always able to deploy this skill”

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Velma and Maurice

She woke up early this morning in the middle of a dream. Lucy was meowing, Little Red-Haired Girl was whining, they thought it was time to eat and were determined to get her up. She wanted to go back to sleep and finish the dream, but by this time she pretty much knew what it was trying to tell her.

The dream had a lot of red bricks and mortar and flowers, ceramic figurines, cakes and cookies and it was a house from her own childhood neighborhood; but it was different, it had evolved. It seemed to be a “business”. It had a driveway that was serpentine and it took her by a new building that was in the making and she could hear a radio playing and someone, a man, humming. She had walked down the drive because she was walking in the neighborhood and it didn’t look familiar until she saw this house and even though it didn’t look that familiar either, it had the telltale signs of being Velma’s house; flowers planted all along the borders and paths, something constructive going on, and Maurice tinkering somewhere. It was the house of one of her childhood neighbors who was up the lane from where her little cracker box house was, and on the street where people of better means lived. She liked to find her way into those homes and she did because she was the “good kid”, the “sensible kid” of the neighborhood. Parents liked her. She chose her friends by the homes she wanted to be a part of, as it seems now.

Lancaster Lane Cracker Box House

Cracker Box House

Velma was a large lady. Big boned, they called it. She had a little voice, soft and she spoke gently. She was kind of meek, always busy doing something, seemingly in the background. Always something constructive.

She was married to Maurice. Maurice had a good job with the civil service out on the military base only four or five miles away, where her mother also had a position as a clerk in the same building where Maurice worked. If her mother’s car was malfunctioning, Maurice would offer her a ride. It seemed Velma didn’t like that much, so it stopped at some point.

It was a military town so most of the inhabitants were rather poor and somewhat transient, though she remembers the neighborhood being pretty stable all through her growing years. She had the same friends until graduating from High School.

Maurice might have been an engineer. He had a prestigious position on the base and a personality that collected others to him. He laughed a lot and seemed to have a lot of answers.

Velma and Maurice had a daughter who was a year or two ahead of Ms. SpoolTeacher in school. Ms. ST’s older sister had had run ins with her so didn’t like her and neither did Ms. ST’s mother; but Ms. SpoolTeacher liked Velma and Maurice and their big beautiful house and the fact that they “did things” and made things and were constructive and all about home and family, so, somehow Ms. SpoolTeacher became friends with their daughter.

Maurice was always building on to their house or re-configuring it or helping his friends in the neighborhood do the same thing. Ms. SpoolTeacher wanted to know how to do things. She loved to sit around with these adults and hear them talk. Being friends with their daughter had her in their living room many nights when many of the neighbors were there as well and they were all talking shop. They liked to have Ms. SpoolTeacher there as well because it gave them a window into the more seedy side of life. They loved to gossip and they were always trying to get information out of her about the happening of any trouble she was aware of going on.

In the dream, before she had gotten to Velma and Maurice’s house, she had been involved with a project that was developing in what seemed like the plot of land that ran behind her immediate (childhood) neighbor’s house and her own. It was a bunch of mucky mucks and a lot of creative people planning out a venture of an open-air display of their crafts and the mucky mucks were clearly trying to gain control and diminish the profitability of the “little people”. There was a lot of vying for position among the little people for rewards and associations with the mucky mucks. Ms. SpoolTeacher has always been turned off by that and she was wanting to flee. After all, it was her idea they were developing and it was getting away from her and no one seemed to be giving her credit. At first she had been thrilled that her dream was coming true, but then someone started to take it away. That was why she was walking the neighborhood, to vent and look for someone to sound off her feelings to. She was mad that her ideas were being stolen and she wanted to flee and do her own thing or find a way to stop them and take back the control.

When she stumbled upon the bricks and mortar and flowers and new building going on, a sense of peace and contentment came over her. She passed the building with the humming and arrived at a french door opening to a kitchen. She could sense Velma nearby but was first greeted by two or three other girls who said immediately, “Oh, you are the one they talk about all the time”. When Velma finally appeared, she had a bouquet of flowers in her hands and went about putting them in a vase on the counter where there was a large collection of baked goods sitting. They offered her a piece of cake that was frosted with a thick white coconut icing. She declined and started asking questions about what was going on there. They were building a store for Velma to manage all of her constructive things. It had french doors too and Ms. SpoolTeacher went over to investigate. The first thing she saw was a large ceramic brightly colored rooster sitting on the floor of Mexican pavers.

That was when Lucy’s meowing broke her slumber and forced her to relinquish her dream state.

She loves waking up from dreams like this. Dreams that remind her that she has always known what she wants to be and has always been doing something about it. It makes her happy to recall that even as a girl, she was determined, constructive and tenacious about finding the “answers” to how she could get from here to there. Had she been born living up on that street where people of better means lived, would she have learned to be so creative? Would life had been as much fun, even with all of the challenges? The peace she felt in the dream when she stumbled upon Velma and Maurice’s conglomeration of goings on, was the peace of stumbling onto her own life; a life she has created from all of the influences from her past, among them and especially people like Velma and Maurice. There were many such people, but this dream was for them.

(Names have been changed to protect the innocent and hopefully get better search engine results, ha!)

No regrets.

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

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”