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

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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”