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.

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”

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,
Becoming,
Staying…

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
Rain
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 running..how 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.

The Good Life

Lately, Ms. SpoolTeacher watched “The Egg and I”:

Screen legends Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray star as newlyweds whose love is put to the test on their wedding day in the classic comedy The Egg and I. Just after she has said “I do,” Betty (Claudette Colbert) learns that her new husband, Bob (Fred MacMurray), has left his white-collar job with plans to raise chickens on a rustic farm located miles away from civilization. Betty tries to make the best of her situation in their ramshackle house but never-ending repairs, a malevolent wood-burning stove, rain, ornery livestock and a seductive neighbor (Louise Allbritton) do not make it easy! There is never a dull moment in this heart-warming comedy that also introduced the beloved characters of Ma and Pa Kettle (Marjorie Main and Percy Killbride).

The Egg and I, Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurrayShe just loves movies like this. 1940’s simplicity.

Claudette Colbert was in her 40’s for this film but played a newlywed. You would never guess her age.

Ma and Pa Kettle were introduced in this movie. Who can resist Ma and Pa.

Ms. SpoolTeacher has farming in her genes. Her grandfather had an apple orchard and provided for his family with livestock and gardens.

She never met him and by the time she met her Grandmother, she was running a rooming house for Canadian students who were studying surveying. So the farming thing was only known to her through all the stories she heard her Aunt and Mother report of their youth; but it was “in her blood”.

Ms. SpoolTeacher has a page on Facebook where she posts all things interesting to her concerning gardening, farming and the such. She calls it First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy.

All of her life she has gravitated to all things having to do with digging in the dirt, designing and of course, fabric.

She’s determined to be food (at least semi-) self sufficient. Mostly because it is so hard to find fresh organic produce consistently in her little town and also because it is much more economical to grow your own.

Speaking of economy, she lost several of her paying gigs to do with housekeeping and has yet to replace them. She has been getting more and more sewing though. Perhaps because she is home more and people can expect to find her there.

She much prefers to sew than to housekeep. Of course, she’d much more  prefer to be home 24/7 with all her time devoted to gardening and sewing things to put in her Etsy Shop, Spare Shelf. She’s a year or so away from being able to imagine that. It’s getting close though.

In the mean time, she fits in gardening wherever she can. On her priority list has been to build a Hugelkultur bed. It is basically a mound that is developed by placing organic matter, dry and green over decomposing logs, sticks, twigs and then covering them with dirt.

She has been studying various permaculture gardeners to see how they have done it and to see the successes they have had.

Hugelkultur trench, one dog high

They can either be structured starting with a trench or at ground level. She chose to dig a trench. Actually, she thought that was how they were supposed to be, but after digging the trench, one dog high, (approx. 28W X 18D), she went back to revisit some of the posts and discovered that some start at ground level. Sepp Hozier, famous in the arena, builds them 6 feet high and does recommend digging a trench of about one foot deep. But, it appears it can be equally successful either way. The tall installation adds surface area for planting. The lower ones seem to be better suited for front yard farming where neighbors or the city might intervene. And, unless you have lots of extra dirt somewhere to cover the mounds, the trench gives you the dirt. She really doesn’t have issues as such with neighbor or the city, but thinks she will enjoy the lower profile design.Though she sure likes this one below.

http://inhabitat.com/diy-hugelkultur-how-build-raised-permaculture-garden-beds/

She thought she had a tremendous amount of resources but they got used up quickly. She will do this on her side yard somewhere in the future. It is a much bigger plot and has a slope that would greatly benefit from the contours of this serpentine shape. Now to find more resources. The ones she had were years in accumulating. These are just a sampling of what the years had provided.

hugelkultur resource collage

The premise with Hugelkultur is that, yes, it is lots and lots and lots of hard, hard, hard work at the installation; but they are a permanent bed that sequesters carbon, releases nutrients and stores water. Not to mention that they are a wonderful use of resources that would otherwise go to landfills or up in the atmosphere as smoke. So, they pay for themselves with labor and resources saved down the road.

logs, sticks and twigs in the trench first

Did she say, “A lot of work”? Especially for an old(ish) lady. (60 is the new 40 don’t you know?)

First go in the logs, sticks and twigs.

logs, sticks and twigs in the trench first

Aren’t those sticks pretty?

logs, sticks and twigs in the trench first

Then the composted material, and dry leaves.

Little Red-Haired Girl living on the edge

Little Red-Haired Girl is living on the edge! She just knows there is something in there alive and edible. Grubs she likes.

hugelkultur 040

Summer leaves composted fairly nicely already.

then the composted material and dry leaves

She then watered it in, added some of the excavated trench dirt and watered it some again to level it out. She will continue adding the trench dirt, which should create some kind of mound. There is a slight threat of rain tonight, so she’s waiting for that just in case.

watered in and waiting for possible rain before adding the rest of the dirt

Where did it go! Oh, no!

She has a north facing front yard that the house shadows. Come summer though, it is pretty much full sun most of the day.

In between digging the trench and building the Hugelkultur mound layers, she leveled the landing area at the front gate and installed pavers. She does this by eye and the feel of hand, and right over the dirt, no sand. She likes things a little Wabi-sabi.

front gate landing pavers

While this was all going on, the little Anna Apple tree went into full bloom and had bees swarming.

Apple Tree in full bloom, and full of bees

Shortly thereafter the apricot tree went from bud to bloom. The bees were circling the buds aching for them to open

Apricot tree flower buds

As soon as they did, there were swarms of bees and the prettiest butterflies.

Apricot tree in full bloom and full of bees and butterflies

If you look carefully, there is one visible butterfly in between the wires a little to the left of center, (kind of like Ms. SpoolTeacher’s politics!).

“How do people ever find time to be bored”, she asks.

She’s so happy she got this done just in time to plant for spring. She didn’t think she would.

Her house stays too cold to start plants indoors and she doesn’t have heating mats or such, yet. This bed is supposed to contain more heat to allow for earlier planting. (She wonders if that means seeds as well)

Four sewing jobs accumulated while all this was going on. Now to tackle those.

Ms. SpoolTeacher's Client jobs Ms. SpoolTeacher's Client jobs

Feast or famine.

Ah, The Good Life.

The good life“, a philosophical term for the life that one would like to live, originally associated with Aristotle.

The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living

Are you living the life you would like to live?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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