The rest of my house is a mess and I have absolutely no intention of cleaning it until tomorrow but yesterday, I cleaned the studio from top to bottom wiping down all the surfaces including the blinds, window sills and baseboards, and moving the furniture to vacuum in every nook and cranny including the desk chairs, the love seat, and the fabric dust on the serger and sewing machine. And then, I set up my new partner - an air purifier - right next to the sewing machine.
After one extremely negative comment regarding my over-talking about my allergies, I've avoided mentioning them on the blog. And I understand. It does get rather old rather fast but what most people don't realize is how severe and disabling they are. I can't just take a pill and they are increasingly limiting my choices not only with food but with what I can do and where I can go because I'm reacting to more and more smells. Just a whiff and I get a sudden and viscous headache, severe shaking, the urge to throw up or feeling like I'll pass out, itching all over but especially on my face, swelling in my hands and feet, a cold sweat, stomach cramps, nausea, and crying... all of which are rather embarrassing and extremely frustrating especially in public.
If you've been reading the blog for a while, you know that I quit my job at Fabricland because of my reaction to the finish on the fabrics. Crying while cutting fabric just doesn't work. It isn't pretty and it isn't professional and that was okay at the time because with my own stash, the fabrics are prewashed the minute they come into the house and - up until last week - there was no problem. And now there is.
All of the garments for my daughter were sewn from polyester spandex blends. As the week progressed, I felt worse and worse and was shaking so badly it was difficult to line up the fabric edges and pin them together. Because this had never happened to me in the studio before, I didn't start to figure it out until my son commented on Wednesday that the studio smelt funny and on Thursday, when I came down in the morning, it hit me like a wall. I think the off gassing was influenced by the predominance of synthetic fibers combined with steam and pressing. Either way, it wasn't working.
I finished the garments on Saturday and packed up all the yardage and remnants and then cleaned the studio thoroughly on Sunday. By the evening, I was starting to feel somewhat better. It's VERY scary. I can handle the thought of sewing with natural fibers only - even though they are far more expensive - and rarely in the bargain center - but I cannot handle the thought of not sewing at all. It's how I breathe so... the windows are open, my new partner is turned on, and all prayers for healing are being gratefully accepted. And then... as if that was not enough...
... my trusty Bernina - which I bought used twenty years ago - and is probably close to thirty years old - has been struggling to maintain tension and stitch length. She went to the shop a year ago and shortly after started acting up again and the situation has worsened to the point that seams are puckering and pulling up. At that time, she was gone for five long... and painful... and I never wanted to go through that again... days so I bought a back-up machine.
On Sunday, I pulled it out and set it up. I'm grateful to have it and it's not at all the machine I'm used to. The Bernina is a solid, mechanical machine with metal parts. This one is computerized with plastic parts. It feels cheaper, sounds tinny, and doesn't reverse in zigzag which is a stitch pattern I use extensively for bra work HOWEVER... it actually is a good machine and, after a long and loyal life, the Bernina needs a tune-up and to be retired to second machine status. I'm lucky to have this new one. I bought it for this exact reason. I own it, it's paid for, it works, and I imagine I'll get used to it within a few weeks.
It fits in the cabinet - sort of - I'll need to adjust the height somewhat as it's sitting about 3/8" too low but I'm glad it fits in the opening. At first, I thought I'd need to buy a new template but this one from the Janome I had years ago works great. It's broken at the back but a piece of tape will do the trick if it causes a problem. Right now, it's sitting securely without it.
My friend Lorraine sews on an industrial machine. When she was here yesterday, she told me that industrial machines are ergonomically designed for less stress on the body. They are set further back in the stand with working room in front, resting spaces for the arm, and no need to tip your neck. That makes sense.
After she got back home - 1 1/2 hours away - she emailed the measurements. Her needle is 8 1/4" from the front and mine is 8". That should be good although I might try pushing the machine even further back in the opening as I have another template that could be cut to fill a wider gap. I'll try both positions when I'm sewing this week - something for me - because I've finished all of the garments for Jessica. Along with two trial runs that didn't work out, I sewed three knit tops and a skirt. They're all going in the mail this afternoon.
I enjoyed sewing these for her and I found it stressful. There's a reason I don't sew for other people. I think from now on, when I am willing to sew for someone, someone I love very much, that someone will need to be in the studio. I definitely need a body ! ! ! !
The last piece was Simplicity 2058 using this black with green circles print. We'd intended to use it for a top but then The Slapdash Sewist posted her dress from the same fabric and we decided that such a powerful print might not work well in a top for Jessica. I'm glad. The skirt is FABULOUS. It's a shaped, flirty, silhouette that would make up beautifully in a lot of fabrics. I traced the pattern in my size too - LOL.
My daughter is 5'6" tall with a 17 1/4" center back length. She likes her tops 24" long and her skirts 25" long which is absolutely PERFECT. Patterns are drafted to those proportions. I didn't have to make any length adjustments. With the skirt, I cut on the lines and sewed. So different from me. I'm not quite 5'4". My center back length is 15 7/8" and my top length is 23". I have to take length out above the waist and add it back below the waist which is a LOT more fiddling. If (when) she sews, she'll see how lucky she is to have her height and proportions.
This morning, my friend Patti is bringing over her latest stack of creations. I'm in awe of that woman's out put ! ! ! and so grateful to spend time with her each week. It's inspiring. After that, I'll look for natural fibers in my stash and decide what I'm going to sew next - possibly another Marcy dress in linen.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - natural fibers