Tag Archives: sewing

Taking Things Apart

One thing you can always count on if you sew, knit, crochet, whatever. You’re going to have to take things apart. You’ll rip out seams and stitches – rippit rippit rippit.

I learned how to sew when I was in junior high school. Girls were required to take two semesters of “home economics.” One semester was sewing, the other was cooking. I actually retained some of the sewing. Probably because my mom sewed and let me use her machine when I wanted to make something. I remember a pair of bell-bottom pants I made with a crazy paisley border print. Yeah, cutting edge fashion, baby. 1970.

After all the time between then and a few years ago, when I got my own sewing machine, I decided to start making some of my own clothes for work. I’m a little out of practice.

Last summer I cut out a pants pattern for some simple pull-on cotton pants in a gray print and a khaki color. I figured I’d cut them to the largest size given since I was gaining weight at that point. Yesterday, I finally got around to starting to put one pair together.

Then I had to take everything apart again because the pants would be way too big. WAY too big. Oh, yeah. I lost the weight I gained last summer. In a way, I guess I was anticipating having to rip all those seams out. I didn’t do any fancy back-stitching at the ends of the seams to prevent them from loosening.

It’s a pain in the ass, though, because I was to the point of “finishing” the pants with the waistband and hems. And now I’m starting over. Including having to go back to the pattern to trim off some more fabric — in the right places — to make everything fit.

That’s life, too, it seems. So many times I thought I’d set my feet on a path I could follow indefinitely, only to find that I was going the wrong way or for some other reason had to retrace my steps or take an indefinite detour. I’ve had to do that a lot.

Maybe I’m not so out of practice at this sewing stuff as I thought.

On finishing things


My first quilt -- called Gabbro


I got the idea for this quilt months and months ago. I had all these smallish pieces of fabric, because I have a friend who likes to hang out in fabric stores. Being one of those people who is attracted to bright or shiny things, I invariably ended up buying a handful of “fat quarters” or other pieces less than a yard. They were always in some random kind of pattern or batik that suggested water, or clouds, or sedimentary rocks, or some other bizarre thing. But I didn’t know what I would ever do with them.

Until I saw this picture when I Googled “gabbro” to find out what kind of rock it is. 

Microscope slice of gabbro

I found the picture on a site with other pictures of “Rocks under the microscope.” Gabbro is an igneous rock made up of chunks of different minerals — not always the same ones. It’s a hodge-podge. I like hodge-podges. I like the opportunity to use the word hodge-podge in a sentence, or three.

I thought “Ah ha!” That would make a cool quilt. (Now let me issue a disclaimer, here: I am not a quilter — have never read a book, even though I own one, or taken a class in how to make a quilt. I know how to use a sewing machine. That’s it.) With my typical “Damn the procedure and full steam ahead” mindset, I found a piece of fabric that I could use as the ground matrix — that’s the darker gray stuff — and started planning out how I would assemble the jigsaw puzzle of all the various fabric “minerals.” What held me up for all those months was how was I going to patch together a bunch of odd-shaped pieces and keep them from unraveling around the edges, and then attach them to the back?

Then I discovered a lovely product that you can iron onto a piece of fabric, turn it over and remove the paper backing, and iron the first piece to another. Oh, happy day. I was on my way. Everything else was all done off the cuff, on the fly, by feel, or by guesswork. In other words — standard operating procedure for me — I made it all up. The real miracle is that it all actually worked. Sometimes I amaze even myself! (All right. Maybe I amaze only myself, but as long as someone is amazed, I have accomplished something.)

Something else I recently finished, although I had begun to doubt I ever would, was a correspondence writing course. And this is old school correspondence, using paper and envelopes and going to the post office to have the thing weighed and paying postage. Yeah. And I started back in…well, maybe I don’t want to think about how long it took me. The point is, I sent in my last assignment yesterday, and I did learn a lot from taking the course. Not just about writing. I learned about my own thought processes, and to what lengths I would go to avoid interviewing another human being face-to-face. Gah. Need to get over that. Need to chant my mantra “People don’t bite. People don’t bite…” etc.

So, now that those things are no longer sitting on the back burner simmering down to unrecognizable sludge, I can work on some of the newer things that have spent less time on the back burner. Time to get out the paints.


…by any other name is still “makeshift.”

My favorite watch

My favorite watch

So, I have this watch that my first (ex) husband gave me when I graduated from the local university way back in 19ahemmhem. It’s one of the few things he gave me that I still treasure — mainly because it’s one of the few things he gave me that he got right. What makes it unique these days is that I never have to buy a battery for it. It is a wind-up watch. And it is water resistant. I wore this watch the entire time I worked at the Fort Worth Zoo. It got wet; it got crunched into walls; it got soaked in Baygon; it got splattered with all manner of animal excrement. And it kept on ticking. It is, after all, a Timex.

However. It is a BITCH to find a replacement band for. And of course, I’ve gone through several replacement bands. I made the one in this photo from a dog collar. That’s right, a collar for a itty bitty doggie. I had to take it apart and cut a chunk off to make it small enough for my wrist, and I had to improvise a way to attach the watch to it because the collar was too thick to go through the pins. But thanks to my new handy dandy sewing machine and my natural ingenuity, I now have a very cool watchband with a nifty snap closure instead of a bunch of velcro (which wears out after a few years) or a buckle (with holes designed to aggravate — one is too tight, the next one is too loose. Arrrgh!)

There's even an AKC tag

There's even an AKC tag

Post part deux

Here’s another view of the shirt I made. A closeup of the fabric detail and a closer look at the bracelets.

A closer look at the detail.

A closer look at the detail.

Making stuff like this is a little like electo-shock therapy — only less painful, I figure (not speaking from experience here). I just know it helps me unwind.

And I’m going to wear the shirt and one of the bracelets this evening when I go to the reception at the Brazos Valley Art Center where I have a couple of paintings entered in the Brazos Valley Art League member show. Ta. Ta.

A finished project, and technical difficulties

It has been a while since I posted photos of my creative projects, so here is one I’ve finished recently.

The new shirt, the bracelet already finished, and a new bracelet.

The new shirt, with two bracelets.

My cousin, who has done a lot more sewing and clothing-making than I, helped me with the shirt, and I got to learn how to use her serger — what a cool machine.

I did finish the shirt in time to take it on my recent weekend trip to Houston. And even though it’s not a tee-shirt, it is actually cool and comfortable. Who’d’ve thought?

Here’s the technical dilemma. I’ve been driving computers for quite a few years, and I like them. I’ve mastered (at least to the level that I need at the moment) word processing programs, spreadsheets, web browsers, e-mail, and, to a certain extent, even databases. But I’m no expert. Even though I learned some basic HTML and CSS coding, that was a long time ago — ancient history by today’s blinding pace of change standards. So when something that is labeled as “automatic,” isn’t so much, and when an “upgrade” acts more like a “downgrade,” I’m just as much at sea as a rank amateur.

The WordPress blog platform that I run my blog on was just upgraded last week. I ran my “automatic” process, backing up the files and databases it told me to back up when it told me to. Then I went back to using it as usual. Strange things happened. Not as bad as what has happened to some of the people I’ve been reading about on the forum at WordPress.org, but stuff I noticed. Like I don’t have the handy little button that lets me toggle between the little editing window in the dashboard page and a full screen editing window — which is nice for doing on-site composing, etc. I also discovered that when I pasted text into the little editing window, it disappeared. Now, there are two ways to use the little editing window. The default is “Visual,” which looks like an ordinary notepad program and that’s how you use it. The other tab takes you to “HTML” where you can see, change, add, or eliminate the HTML tags. What I was having to do was click on the “HTML” tab to see what I had just pasted into the page. It was there, alright, with all the appropriate tags. And it showed up in my “Preview” window the way it would/should look when I published it. Weird.

I ran into another glitch when I tried to put two other photos into this post. Some of the code for one of the photos showed up on the blog page when I published. When I went back to the editor and deleted that line of code (because I thought maybe it was a duplicate) it messed up the padding around the photo, and the caption went away. More weird.

So I tried to find out if there was anything on the forums that would help. I’ve changed to the drab “Default” theme, although I was able to change the color of the header (and of course, what do I pick but grayscale — more drab), but that hasn’t resolved the problem on the admin side. I don’t do anything fancy on my site at the moment — don’t have a lot of plugins, gadgets, widgets, or gizmos to blame.

I reckon I could uninstall the upgrade and revert to the previous version, like some people on the forums have said they did — after their blogs vanished completely. Heavy sigh. I can imagine the buckets of sweat I’ll sweat over that operation. Or maybe I’ll just use this tired-looking old theme for a little while and see if they release a patch of some sort.

In the meantime, the other photos I wanted to post will just have to go into their own articles.

“It’s always something.” — Gilda Radner