Sewing Bucket List

She’s been a little busy.

Since ‘retiring’ a year or so ago, she hasn’t been taking client work. That means she doesn’t have to quit in the middle of creative juices flowing and then try to get back to it later; she can just keep with a project uninterrupted.

She’s finally gotten to her sewing bucket list. The first one on her mind was a patchwork quilt. As a child, her mother started her three girls doing them for rainy day projects. It has been a thing she has wanted to revisit ever since.

The bucket list seems to increase rather than diminish. This ‘toothbrush rug‘ one of the increases.

A yo yo quilt has long been on the list. She seems to cater to the 40’s style of things. Doesn’t it seem that each generation seems to like what was popular in the era of their mother’s youth?

This T-shirt yarn, Tarn, scrappy rug didn’t turn out well. She couldn’t keep it from ruffling no matter how she tried to do the increases. It’s in a drawer awaiting another life.

A long time on the sewing bucket list was to make a Canadian Smocked pillow. She mastered the smocking but failed to sew the seam before doing the smocking, so the two ends couldn’t be matched. Somehow she failed to do a row that would have made it right. She may turn it into a square pillow. It was supposed to be a bolster.

The thing about researching”how-to’s” is that you run into other fun stuff along the way. This scrappy rug was inspired by a lady on Etsy that makes hats and she was trying to find a tutorial for her technique. She ended up working it out on her own. It’s not easy crocheting with knots, she learned.


Once in awhile she gets housework done or a project that makes sewing easier. She finally turned these lollipop display stands into thread and bobbin holders.

If you remember, her career was mostly working with clients, in their homes, helping them design their furnishing and window coverings. She had a little stint of trying it on her own and accumulated scores of fabric sample books to help her do that work. While she still had an electric washing machine (she now does all her washing by hand), she tore apart a big bunch of them, washed them and arranged many of them into ensembles she imagined could become something wonderful together. Many, many more books she simply gave away. Well, she is finally taking one box after another to work these imaginings out.


Art to wear.

She never knows where it will end up when she starts out. She lets the fabrics tell her what to do. Above image is the front. Below image is the back. It went through many gyrations getting to this point. Still more to complete.


Trapunto detail on the rose.


The plaid pocket accommodates a small flip phone.

The “Tiny Purse” is the latest project, started with the intention of making a credit card holder for a friend’s upcoming birthday. She got carried away when the fabric told her to do otherwise.

She spent a great deal of the Summer trying desperately still to get her food to grow in the southeastern desert of Arizona. It’s a big challenge, but she did make progress and learned lots of new things.

Now that the cooler, shorter days are here, she will be working inside, spooling around a lot more.

She hopes this post makes up for her long absence from the blog, that you are well and headed toward an enjoyable Winter season.


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”

It’s Coming On Christmas

Santa Claus

Christmas, what is Christmas?

Santa Claus. Candy canes. Ribbon candy. Tissue paper packages in a box from Canada with sticker seals holding the edges fastened. Those were the gifts that could be opened Christmas Eve, because the others weren’t there, Santa Claus hadn’t come yet.

Three little girls lined up at a closed hall door, dressed in new nighties, waiting with bated breath for the Mom to say okay.

Would they get what they wanted?

Oh, such anticipation. It is hard to capture the essence of the thrill that was known then. Once in a great while, something evokes it, but it is very elusive. Pine trees work to a fair degree.

Now it seems just a time to get through. Not for all. Some still thrill in the season.

It has long ago lost the memory of it being the day of the birth of a Savior. That has been misplaced.

Christians haven’t forgotten, but it is sidelighted (a piece of information that is in addition to the main information) by the New World Order.

It seems the main information is to get shoppin’!!!

Christmas Tree has wonderful childhood memories

When Ms. SpoolTeacher was a young girl, she did a lot of babysitting. It was often a very boring occupation and it netted 50 cents an hour. Even if there were four kids. Sometimes even if the neighbor threw in a couple too.

50 cents an hour added up. In those days, you could purchase a pattern for 75 cents. Fabric, who remembers? Not the prices of today, for sure!

That was all she wanted with her babysitting money. She wanted to spool. It wasn’t long before clothes weren’t cheaper to make than to buy, but she still liked to make her own.

Well, there was one lady she loved to sit for. They became friends and Margaret would later, when Ms. SpoolTeacher was of an appropriate age, invite her to her house parties where there were always boys. Grown up boys. Handsome boys.

What fun.

Margaret was quite a bit older than Ms. SpoolTeacher; but you know how time does. Eventually the age gap narrowed and it was great fun to hang out with “older” ladies.

A long story to bring up the point of the aluminum Christmas tree.

Margaret had one. During Christmas season on those long, long, long, long, long nights where very young Ms. SpoolTeacher had put 4 children to bed and was waiting with bated breath for Margaret and her husband to come home from a night out, she would sit and be hypnotized by the beautiful silver tree with the color light wheel spinning multiple colors round and round, all the while reflecting off the beautiful collection of glass in a mirrored china cabinet. It was just the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. She vowed in her subconscious to someday have one. One of each, an aluminum Christmas tree and a china cabinet filled with beautiful glassware.

Aluminum Christmas tree multi-color light wheel effect

She paid a fortune for her beautiful aluminum Christmas tree and a wheel to go with it. She has no regrets. She had money in those days.

The glassware? An untold fortune invested.

The china cabinet, a steal at an “antiques and collectibles” shop that had the price slashed in half. She can’t figure out why beautiful second-hand Thomasville, real wood and wonderfully made furniture can’t sell for a fortune, but she feels very fortunate that it can’t. $225. Priceless!

Aluminum Christmas tree link to color light viewing

So this Christmas season, Ms. SpoolTeacher is on a roll getting her “compound” in the order that it will someday soon be a place Where Women Create.

She has made a little sitting room out of what she refers to as “The Mud Room”, taken everything out except what is essential. It used to be stuffed with sewing stuff, part of resource central.

What used to be The Mud Room is now a cozy sitting room

It’s just right, small enough to heat efficiently once the drape is pulled on the doorway to the living room and the gap at the bottom of the old door leading out is plugged. She can sit and read old letters and laugh and cry.

A gifted sewing machine from a friend

She was gifted an heirloom family sewing machine from a friend who wanted to find it a good home. It fits right in the corner. Hopefully, before much longer, she will do something about that awful concrete floor. She wants to do a mosaic tile treatment. She may end up just painting it. Maybe something like Lapis Lazuli…

something like Lapis Lazuli

something like Lapis Lazuli She knows, it’s hard to fathom what is in her mind’s eye, but she was a designer in her day, don’t ya know?

Everything is about comfort now. Working with what she has. Working with the least of things. Making it like she likes it regardless of what anyone thinks!

It’s Coming On Christmas.

She managed to be in the spirit enough to put up the aluminum Christmas tree. She’s read old letters from Sissy who is gone now but with whom she enjoyed countless memories sitting in a rocking chair together perusing the Sears Catalog for what Santa could bring and lined up at the hall door, dressed in new nighties, waiting with bated breath for the Mom to say okay.

What is Christmas?

At the very least it is the memory of Love. At the very most it is Love.

vintage sequin and assorted Christmas ornaments

Merry Christmas.