Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back In The Dinosaur Days Of Sewing

Since the only two things that I absolutely have to do today are clean house and make dinner for the "boys", I didn't bother with the alarm and slept until I woke up. It's so lovely to do that every once in a while.

My sleep wardrobe desperately needs some attention. I've mentioned it a few times but I don't seem to get to actually doing something about it - until yesterday. I cut out a pair of pajama pants from this purple with black, cotton, zebra print. Look at the paper pattern. That's not something I do any more, use the actual pattern. I trace everything. I've been sewing this pattern for so long it's from back in the dinosaur days of sewing - VBG. This time - knowing what I now know about my body - I cut the front a size smaller than the back and shaved an inch off the top casing to sew the elastic in differently. Progress.

The pattern is McCall's 3445 which is out of print. No surprise there. McCall's 4979 seems like an updated alternative with shaping through the pant leg.

I sewed on the new Pfaff. Look at where the stitching guide is - way behind the needle. When I called Charlene at the shop, she said oh, but there are a 10 and a 20 metric marking further forward. I have to say it took me forever to see those. I'm not twenty. My eyes have to work harder than that and those lines are much clearer in this image than they are with purple zebra print sliding over them plus... I don't sew in metric. That and no reverse in zigzag are enough to drive me crazy... which is why... it's going back.

One thing I like about dealing with this particular shop is my relationship with the owner. We've been talking sewing together for over thirty years. We trust each other. The other is their policy around machines. When you buy a machine, you have a year to exchange it at the same value for any reason. Say, you hate the stitch guide...

When we talked, I told her I wanted a non-computerized, solid, preferably metal, basic machine, without bells and whistles. Something like this Janome that looks a lot like my Bernina. I don't need  fancy tricks. I need a great straight stitch, an adjustable and reversible zigzag, a fabulous satin stitch, a professional looking button hole, good free motion tension, and an adjustable needle position. That's all.

I'm the same way with cars, computers, cell phones, appliances, just about anything. I don't need two million flavors of toothpaste. Just one that works. Apparently, I'm a dinosaur. EVERYONE wants bells and whistles. Not - LOL. Make it simple. Make it work. She's going to call me when she gets back from the fall show because there's a new model coming out that might be what I'm looking for. I have until November to exchange this one.

I've decided not to do too much sewing this week. Although, I'm feeling somewhat better, I'm not feeling fabulous and I don't want to push things so I'll do a bit but not a lot. I had a headache yesterday but - mostly - wasn't shaking. When it started, I stopped sewing and went outside and read  Super Immunity, the book that Alexandra recommended. They had it at Chapters. I'll read it while waiting for Pamela's recommendation to arrive - Solving The Puzzle of Your Hard-To-Raise Child. Luckily, there was a seller in British Columbia that had a used copy so it shouldn't be too long getting here.

I realized reading Super Immunity that this is the same author - and probably a similar program - as the book Eat To Live that Shams of Communing with Fabric mentioned in her posting Weight Loss And Health where she shared her successful journey. If you haven't read that posting, it's quite inspiring. For me, weight loss would be a welcome bonus but it's all about my over reaction to foods and smells PLUS... not being able to sew is a highly motivating factor for making significant changes.

Another reason I'm not going to sew so much this week is because next week my friend Caroline is coming for five days. The boys are heading off on their yearly retreat and Caroline and I plan to spend the entire week in the studio sewing our hearts out and talking out the "stuff" of our lives. She was recently diagnosed with extensive allergies. I'm not surprised. We're the same age and this seems to be happening with greater frequency to women I know. All my issues have come with hormone shifts.

THANK YOU so much for the support and encouragement yesterday. I really Really REALLY appreciated it. Dealing with something like this can feel very isolating and lonely. The comments made it feel significantly less so. I'm thankful.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - book recommendations, shared advice, support


  1. I'm sure you'll find what works for you with the allergies. And yes, there is something about midlife--I've realized that I'm somewhat intolerant to gluten and dairy (not the full allergies, as far as I can tell). I think these issues flew "under the radar" for years and were unmasked by menopause.

    If you're up for more reading, "The Abascal Way" is interesting, too. But "Super Immunity" is a great start!

    1. I remember my mother making a statement once that she couldn't have ice-cream any more and wondering where that came from. She's was about that age and now I get it. NOT fun.

      The book looks interesting - and similar as Victoria noted - to the other program. I've ordered it and will be sure the email if I have questions. Thanks for the offer. One of the questions that I ask myself when I read these things is can I maintain this for life? It has to be doable or there's no point so I'll be interested in finding the balance point and of course, I'm highly motivated.

  2. I keep a piece of painter's tape on the throat plate as a seam guide on my Bernina...it's easy to see and to move as needed. I hope you find some solutions to your food/chemical issues; those are no fun. And if you don't mind an off-the-wall suggestion for coping with some of the hormone stuff, the Shimmy exercise DVDs (shimmy.tv) combine gentle stretching with beginning bellydance movements, and I've found them to be incredibly helpful in increasing my body's ability to deal with some of the joys of menopause onset.

    1. I'd meant to include an image of the blue tape I put on. It'll be helpful until I return the machine.

      Interesting about the exercise. I just got to that part in the book where it talks about the benefits of exercise. Haven't read it yet but it certainly seems to correlate with what you're saying. I'll look this up. I LOVE DANCING ! ! ! !

  3. I have been following "The Abascal Way" mentioned in the comment by Jean S since January. I took 4 months of reading and a class to be able to start adjusting my eating. I also went on the diet with a friend. That helped a lot, too.I followed it very closely for 6 weeks, but now I am a little more flexible. I, fortunately, did not find many food sensitivities, but I do feel I'm eating much healthier. The eating plan is similar to Shams' Eat to Live, but includes some meat and a few grains. I lost 12 lbs with this way of eating and I'm not a large person. The weight I lost was the weight around my middle that I gained in the menopausal process. It feels much better to get some of the extra around my middle removed. I definitely think that a change in eating has a high potential to help with your allergies, but it may take some time to see effects.

    1. Yep, it can take time....I have been following the Abascal program (I don't think of it as a diet) since early June and have been meticulously writing down what I eat and any symptoms I note on a daily basis. A lot of record-keeping, but as some of my symptoms were fairly subtle, I figured that that was the best way to know what was going on.

      Myrna, iIf you have any questions, let me know--I'd love to help in any way I can.

    2. Thanks for seconding the suggestion Victoria. I've ordered it and will read it along with these other two and figure out what will work for me. It has to be doable long term. While it's not my top priority, the weight I'd like to lose is around my middle too. That's encouraging.

  4. I still have a piece of electrical tape as a seam line that was probably put there by my grandpa. Good luck finding a metal machine. I still love my elna from the 70's and wouldn't trade it for anything.

    1. How fun to have such a history with your machine. LOVE my Bernina. I've asked if they can find a new tension gauge and stitch regulator for it and perhaps that will be enough. Did some quick research and Janome has a machine where they note metal parts. I'll look into it more.

  5. I don't like bells and whistles. I like things that work. This drives my tech-crazy husband - crazy. He thinks it's a complete oxymoron; I work as an engineer, I'm young, I should want computerized, motorized, technology driven EVERYTHING. But I don't!!!!!


    Good luck with your health issues. Really sorry to hear about that.

    1. LOL - ditto my husband and my boys. They like all those gadgets with toys. I like machines that do the work I need them to do, not ones that play. I also like simple living. I don't understand all these different features on shampoo and hair spray and deodorant and... and... and... a product that works would be good.

      Thanks for the encouragement with health issues. Something will work out. I'll keep going in that direction.

  6. I'm a bells and whistles kind of gal. When I first started to sew almost 2 years ago now I purchased a Janome DC3050 which is electronic but bottom line electronic but has some great features like movable needle placement, ability to stop the needled on up or down and some good stitches. I has served me well but I find myself pining for embroidery, more stitches, self cutting thread etc. Within the 2 years I had purchased a serger and a coverstitch machine. Love equipment. Love features. Good luck finding a machine that works for you.

    1. Isn't that just the way. You either love it or you don't. I'm not sure there's a middle ground. I've had two bells and whistles machines and have replaced them both with basics and here I'm doing it again and I bought and returned a coverstitch machine when I wasn't interested in pulling it out and setting it up.

      Had another conversation with Charlene at the shop about the Pfaff that's coming out this fall and it sounds darn near perfect. I have to wait but hopefully it's worth it.

  7. Myrna,

    Hang in there getting the allergies and chemical reactions under control. After following your blog since your days at QU I have seen how you have handled the heavy things that life has thrown your way and I know that you will succeed.

    I don't know if I have ever listed the sewing machines I own. Here is the list as I can remember it.
    1. Great grandmothers treadle machine.
    2. Treadle machine bought at a yard sale.
    3. Mother-in-law's Singer in a cabinet post WWII.
    4. Singer machine in carrying case.
    5. Singer machine in a cabinet that curves.
    6. Sears Kenmore machine bought in 1971.
    7. Mom's Wards Signature machine bought about 1975.
    8. Singer machine given to me by a friend.
    9. Baby Lock Molly given to me by DH when Singer bought the dirt.
    10. Baby Lock Serger.
    11. Baby Lock Embroidery machine. (The only one with a computer).

    Some of the machines are in storage as I don't have enough room in my sewing room. I keep trying to get the room arranged as a studio so that I can have all the machines out and ready for use. The only problem is life getting in the way.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. I only heard recently that Carol passed away in February. Such a loss. She started an amazing opportunity for many that I believe has impacted places like Craftsy.

      That's a lot of machines. I used to have quite a few antique ones but found new homes for them in this last move. I decided they needed to be appreciated. Life does have a tendency to get in the way of things. Time never shows up. We always have to make it.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.