Monday, November 28, 2011

My Form of Procrastination

I’m probably not alone in that I have a to-do list longer than the average 10 year old’s list for Santa. My to-do list starts with designing the web pages for our Colorful Monday sale (our response to black Thursday) and making samples for the children’s Sew Camp I’m hosting during this year’s winter vacation, pretty important tasks. Despite that, I started a new project. And… I’m sharing it. 

To start at the beginning, my son and his significant other, the lovely Chisa, will be decorating their apartment for Christmas for the first time this year. You know what that means. I can make a present that they’ll actually use.

My first thought was to make them one of my mantle scarves using my Bell Choir designs. The scarf is easy-to-make and stunning. Unfortunately, a mantle scarf loses its charm if you don’t have a fireplace and mantle. Alex and Chisa don’t.

Mantel Scarf
The Mantel Scarf
This is what the bells look like close-up. This particular one is the free sample. Go to the Bell Choir page to download it.

Obviously I needed a plan B. Hmmm… Everyone can use a table runner.
Back to my story. It just sew happens I was rummaging around in my stitch-out hamper last week and I ran into a full set of the bells sewn out. Synchronicity!

I spent a few minutes designing this layout. The gray rectangles are for the bells. The white sections would need stippled stitched pieces so I digitized designs that would fit. It is really easy to make stippling designs in the Bernina Artista software. All you have to do is import a jpg of the required shape, trace around the shape’s outline and then click on the stipple fill stitch button. Voila, a design the shape I need filled with stippling.

 Of course, I have a special knack for creating obstacles. In this case the stumbling block was the virgin red fabric I used for sashing. 

My mistake was not pre-washing the fabric. To give myself credit, I’ve heard many a quilt teacher say that if you have good fabric you don’t need to pre-wash. This was good fabric, very good fabric, a laurel Burch purchased from a reputable quilt store. It might have been good, but it wasn’t good enough.

You can see where this is going. I used a water soluble pen to mark the white embroidered panels. When I spritzed the panels with water, the red sashing bled. The once pristine red and white table runner was now a white, red and pink table runner. 

Luckily a little perseverance, a couple of Shout Color Catcher sheets and three times through the wash and the table runner was once again white and red.

I don’t think I’ll write the blow-by-blow about my binding adventure. Let’s just say I’m finished now.

The finished table runner

On another note, I’m giving the stipple patterns to anyone who has already purchased the Bell Choir designs or purchases them now. (E-mail me for the designs if you already own this set.) The designs fit in a variety of hoops though they are easiest to sew if you have a Jumbo Hoop for a Bernina. If you own the very large hoops for a Viking Diamond or Pfaff Creative Vision or the newest Brother or Babylock, you won’t have to do much re-hooping either. 

The pdf version of the pattern is available on my Bell Choir page for anyone to download

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Sewing Room

For the last nine years, from the time we moved to California, my sewing room has been a mess. It’s a matter of space. This house is smaller than our old Carolina home by more than a thousand square feet. We thought we had left enough stuff behind, but no. We sold, donated and tossed. It didn’t seem to matter. We still had too much stuff!
I admit that I have a lot of sewing supplies. And it’s not news that I’m a fabric slut. Actually, I own a generous collection of the whole sewing trifecta: fabric, gadgets and thread. I love it all, but storage has been a challenge.
So, until recently, my sewing room has been a mess. The words“Clean House” and “Bobbi’s sewing room” have become synonymous.
Well, worry no more. No longer will we have to call search parties to find small children in my sewing room. The days of making your way around mounds of unidentifiable sewing detritus to sew a seam are over. I’ve seen the light. And I’m not talking about a high intensity Ott Light!
It started when I was browsing through a local antiques/thrift/junk store in downtown Placerville.I must have mentioned that I sew to the proprietor because he forced me to the back corner of the store where, tucked behind a stack of motley street signs across from a spring sprung floral sofa was (as he said it) “U’re Going to Love  this. I have right here a Gen-U-Ine Sew-Ing Cab-net.”
Despite the proprietor’s resemblance to a snake oil salesman, he was right. I loved it. I laid all of my cash on his counter and put the thing on layaway. A mere 90 days and a hundred and fifty dollars later, I drove the van home loaded with one Gen-U-Ine Sew-ing Cabnet.
As you can see, it looks like a wardrobe. It’s even kind of shabby chic looking with the white paint. If you look at the paint closely you can see it’s not its original color.
It’s a sewing wardrobe from the 50’s or 60’s, from before the days when wardrobes were a common item in a family room or living-room.
Inside the cabinet is a pull down desktop.
And do you see the little gold square?  That’s the Singer label.
Pulling the desk down reveals storage, shelves and spool-racks.
There’s even a raised bed to create a flat surface behind your sewing machine. Because my sewing machine isn’t a circa 1966 Singer, the raised section doesn’t match the height of my sewing machine.
Though not exactly right for my sewing machine, it IS right for serger storage and usage. And, the bottom of my cabinet houses the machine I’m not currently using.
Though I’ve been sewing forever, I had never seen a cabinet like this one. Imagine my surprise when Tecla (a dear friend I’ve mentioned before) called me from a yard sale saying that she had found the coolest sewing machine cabinet ever.
Well, I didn’t believe her cause I had just brought home the coolest sewing machine cabinet ever, my vintage Singer cabinet.
Well, she was right. She had found the coolest sewing cabinet ever made, a twin to my cabinet. It was an identical twin, only still sporting its original pecan wood finish and typical 60’s handles. Other than that, it was the same. And this one was only $25!
I’m no fool. I snapped it up.
I use the second one for my computer and storage of a variety of sewing supplies. It’s amazing what happens when you have a place to put things. Now my sewing room looks like this:
One of these days I’ll re-finish one or both of these cabinets, but for now I’m just happy to have them.
So, Niecy Nash, be gone!
On another note, did you see the gorgeous Bernina 830 in this picture?
I’ve had it since June and other than a few hiccups during the learning curve (all operator error), it's been perfect. I'm giving it a work-out. I love this machine.
If you’re wondering at all why it’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post, it’s because my creative writing muse had been busy helping me write a book. I can’t say much more about it except that I’m done with my part. It will now take the publisher another year before it’s out the door.
I am happily back working the blog.