It’s Hard To Believe…

…that this is an improvement to how her house has looked. But it is way improved! (She won’t show you how it looked at its most chaotic).

Lots yet to do

Little Red-Haired Girl is always by her side

She could be ashamed, but she’s not. She’s in the process of making new seat cushion covers and a drape to cover the rest of this raggedy old sofa. She picked it up for free for her sister three years ago and it has ended up back with her. It’s just too comfortable not to find a way to use. Just about everything she has is previously owned.

The carpet that came with the house when she purchased it was one of those off-the-roll-oatmeal-colored popcorn Berbers that quickly packed down and looked worn and awful. She can’t stand carpet for all of the dirt it harbors so yanked it all out early on. Her friend up the street lined his driveway with it for working on his cars. She’s been living with terribly ugly red concrete slabs with black glue from stick-on tiles; but it gets so, so cold in winter and the cold permeates so thoroughly throughout that she just buys cheap area rugs so she can bear to walk around. When they get too ugly and worn, she uses them as weed barriers for solutions while she is planning and implementing the food forest dream all around “The Compound”.

The goal is to create a mosaic tile floor and sew rag rugs that can be washed.

She helped her friend move from one storage to another yesterday and while picking up his rental at U-haul discovered that the furniture pads they sell there for $7.95ea, about 6×7, are the same felt that is used for laying commercial grade carpets; perhaps a little thinner, which is a good thing. She hopes to buy several to stitch scraps to for rugs.

Free sofa she picked up for her sister that ended up back with her. It's too comfortable not to use.

Ms. SpoolTeacher has a little house. There are seven-ish rooms in about 1025 square feet, not including TheGarageThatWantsToBeAWhereWomenCreateStudio/ (TGTWTBAWWCS) space that was converted by a previous owner to accommodate a relative. The main house has two bedrooms, one bath, kitchen, living room (including a little entry) and an extension added somewhere along the way that is divided into a laundry room (off the kitchen) and a mud room (she calls it, off the living room).

The house has lots of issues. It’s like a giant sieve; leaks everywhere, bad windows, poor insulation, ceiling cracks, etc. Too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. The heat pump is ineffective so she never uses it. It was built in 1945 and the “improvements” that were done to ready it for sale just before she purchased it were mostly cosmetic and deceptive. She saw through most of it, but was willing to take on the challenges anyway. It fit her budget.

Trying to continue on her adventure of providing her own “right livelihood”, she is suffering in place until improvements can be made.

The lead image is after a session of complete and utter chaos that she could no longer tolerate.

Throughout her career as an Interior Designer, she has accumulated hoards of fabrics and sample swatches that she intends to use to create one-of-a-kind items to list in her online Etsy shop.

Because TGTWTBAWWCS is so, so cold during winter, she tried to make the living room work as a sewing center for doing client alterations and creative sewing, but it just got to be more than her nerves could bear.

So, out to The Studio went most of the chaos…

Almost all of her sewing resources and implements are out in The Studio now, waiting to be fully organized. She has long been working to reduce the contents there and has made some really good strides toward getting it to where she wants it to be; giving stuff away, offering some of the remaining contents from her now closed Lollipops & Polka Dots Variety Shop to a young friend to sell in her own Etsy shop … donating to local charities, staging collectibles in the carport for posting in the shop as well, etc., etc. …

The Carport Project

The Carport Project

Spring being as near as it is has diverted her attention a little as it is already getting a little late to be starting seedlings, but one step at a time. Her house being the sieve that it is, she needed to build the warming tray using incandescent rope lights she had seen a link to online. That had to be put on the front burner. Next will be to create something from all of the containers she doesn’t throw away to hold the seeds for sprouting .

Seed warming tray with incandescent rope lights

She has a serious spring “bug” and would so much rather be out there with her hands in dirt.

A post about Bealtaine Cottage resurfaced again on Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Facebook Page lately and she made the mistake of following the link which served to stir up restless inspiration in her to get with her own dreams of creating a “food forest” on her little property.

At this point, food growing is not feeding all of her needs. Doing sewing and alterations for clients is random and unpredictable. Her career working for others in the design business was given up long ago, mostly so that she could pursue creating her own right livelihood; “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow“. Her soul could no longer bear the part she was playing in the non-sustainable consumption dilemma Corporatocracy insists is the only way to build an economy. Not that she wouldn’t revisit that option if she could sell products that meet certain criteria; but so many of the businesses she utilized once upon a time have changed their structures to more of a DIY model and employ low wage workers to act as counter clerks filling in the blanks of a computer generated ordering system. Of course, the quality of knowledge and service is sorely lacking, and the merchandise is of questionable integrity to her, but people are motivated by the imagined discounts they get this way. Many of the businesses have simply gone away or downsized. And, of course, she has gotten older. Design is one field that age isn’t necessarily seen as a deficit, but competition is fierce for the spots that are still remaining. The main reason is that the market has dwindled. Many people just don’t have the expendable income that they once did. As a matter of fact though, she did recently post a Craigslist ad for her service of using what people already have to create a new look.

So, it’s kind of a Catch 22. She moved out to a little Podunk town to live the life she imagined but it is too far from a big enough city to create an income the old-fashioned way, with a slave wage labor J.O.B.B. (four letter word). Soul bankrupting enterprises.

She continues striving for her dreams…

Some of the madness you might have expected to see if you came calling for a fitting at her house…sorting swatches for projects, thinking of a crazy patchwork cover for the sofa (too chaotic for her anymore), or shifting furniture for the millionth time. She’ll be doing most of this now out in TGTWTBAWWCS. She has finally pared down the furnishings to be just what she needs and wants to make the space practical and comfortable for herself and any visitors. The rest yet to do is improving the pieces that are there, mosiac tiling the floor, making area rugs, slip-covers and such. #WhatYouCanDoIfYouKnowHowToSew!

DSCN0882

So, she will just keep on keeping on with all of the dreams she has for SpoolTeaching classes, up-cycling clothes in to one-of-a-kind items for Etsy, working on the First Do No Harm Front Yard Farmacy, improving her compound, and tending to her little family of acquired, rescued, inherited and beloved pets.

Lucy playing in the sheers

Lucy, tangled up in sheers

$17 vintage thrift store find, Woodmark, crewel fabric wingchair

Vintage Woodmark Crewel-Upholstered Wingback found for $17 at Habitat Store (Sold pair listed on ebay for $1,295!)

The Mud Room

Purple-haired Raggedy Ann made by Ms. SpoolTeacher sitting in the Mud Room waiting for (an) Andy

Apricot tree pruned, ready for spring

At least she got the fruit trees pruned and ready for spring. Now to plant the fig.

It’s A Wonderful Life

The Star Client

Star Client

Ms. SpoolTeacher posted an ad for her Peripatetic Design services on Craigslist recently and had no idea what would come of it.

Would you like a new look without purchasing new things? It’s amazing what can be done by rearranging things you already own for a completely new, fresh look. Just need more organization? That too. Is clutter an issue? No need to throw things away (recycle) unless you want to. There is always a way to make a lot of stuff look better. Groupings, consolidation of like items will minimize the impact and can create a museum quality. $45 p/hr plus mileage trip fee to and from your home from Benson, AZ. Skilled, professional, life-long designer/decorator with great color sensibilities and exceptional organizational skills. No implements required, we’ll use what you have.

This she could do 24/7. She loves, loves, loves to deal with the details of “things”.

true freedom

Lone Mountain Collage, San Francisco, CA

Her first real job after returning from a little summer scholarship at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, (right after graduating from high school), was as a “store decorator” at Levitz Furniture. She was only 18, and very intimidated by the others who seemed so confident of their design skills. Her duties were to daily make rounds of all the aisles and replace any items that had been sold out of the vignettes.

The store had a wonderful stock room full of accessories and that was her domain and resource center.

Looking back now she can see how, even then, she enjoyed focusing on the smallest of details. For some reason, it soothed her anxieties.

She could often be found rearranging the contents of a china cabinet to get all of the elements just right. She also loved to clean the stockroom and reorganize it.

When Ms. SpoolTeacher asked Star Client how she found her ad, Star Client explained that one day she was placing accessories and she had her husband hang a collection of stars above her cabinets in the kitchen. After which, she plopped down on her sofa and felt exasperated. She had had enough. She was feeling overwhelmed with all of the “stuff” that she had kept as her most favorite of things that were the result of her downsizing event some time before.

She didn’t want to get rid of a thing, but she had had enough.

Very often, it is just an objective perspective that is needed to reignite the passion to complete the task.

Star Client asked her husband to, “Please get on Craigslist and find a decorator”.

When she rolled across Ms. SpoolTeachers ad, Star Client told Ms. ST that “That was it.” The words of the ad expressed exactly what she wanted.

The email from Star Client to Ms. SpoolTeacher said, “I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better.”

Star Client and Ms. SpoolTeacher had a wonderful time working as a team, going through her treasures and finding their new homes.

If Ms. SpoolTeacher had put an ad for a perfect client, Star Client would have matched the contents to a T.

The minute Ms. ST arrived, Star Client took her on a “tour” and they dug right in. Ms. ST looses herself easily, and they had finished the first room before she thought to take “before” pictures and got so busy in the end taking the ones she did, that she forgot two rooms! Oh well.

Here are the results of their team effort in the main areas. They pretty much touched and moved just about every accessory and numerous furniture items, except of course, the stars!

I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better. I have a lot of stuff that needs to look better.

They only took one little break and back at it again, the pups wandering in and out and around their feet. Mostly they just laid around and snoozed.

Mostly they just laid around and snoozed.

This time when Star Client plopped herself down on her sofa, she said, “Whose house is this? Much better!”

"Whose house is this?"

“Whose house is this?”

The thing about it is, it looked very nice before. And she had lovely things to work with.

Ms. SpoolTeacher says that this is The Star Client you always hope you will get the chance to work with.

What a fun day!

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”