OMG I’m madly in love with my newest purchase! No, it’s not sewing related at all! In fact, it’s cooking related – which is a surprise since cooking is one of those silly necessities that take you away from sewing/quilting/crafting!  I have a Slow Cooker, have had one for many years.  I love it, of course. Nothing better than coming home and knowing DINNER IS ALREADY MADE!!!  However, I have a picky eater, who doesn’t like everything mixed together.  To top if off, some of my favorite individual and side dishes could be made in the crock pot, if only I had three to set up at the same time.  Well…I was in Wallie World the other day and what did they have but Crock Pot Hook Ups.  The solution to my problem.

Slow Cooker

Instead of a 6 quart monstrosity that would have us eating leftovers for weeks, since it’s just my son and I most of the time, something smaller is perfect.  And combining the two types together, I get a main dish crock pot, and two side dish crock pots!  Here’s the best part: I got the two smaller one for $36.00 and the Large Oval one for $20.00! They were on clearance! Whoo hooo!

So I’ve spent the day looking for crock pot recipes for tomorrow!  I think I’m going to go with a Chicken, Soup, and Rice recipe.  This will be great because tomorrow is the Quilt Guild meeting, and I’ll need to rush to get there on time.

I’ll keep you posted!

Other Craft Projects:

Wow! Where do I start?  I guess I have to go back about 13 or 14 years ago, when I purchased a vintage Kenmore 148 Sewing Machine out of the want ads.  It needed a tune up, as it had been sitting for a number of years.  But I promptly lost the foot pedal/cord during a move.  Well, over the course of the years, I’ve tried to find a replacement foot control for this machine, as it’s in really good condition ( other than needing the tune up).  At some point in the last month it dawned on me to start looking for whole machines of the same model, just in non-working condition, and then steal the foot pedal from the dead machine.

So — off to ebay I went.  I found another Kenmore 148 and promptly bid on it.  It was advertised as “locked up” and “non-working,” but crucially it had the foot control/cord. Yay! We won the auction for $19.00!! Now, shipping was 25.00 :( So, about $44 in all, and the foot controls new (if they fit, which they don’t) are about $39.95.  So, still a deal as Far as I could tell.

Well, lo and behold, the same night the machine shipped, I find the stupid pedal/cord.  Don’t you just love Murphy and his silly laws?

Now to back up a bit, the first time I took the sewing machine repair course, when I got home, this was one of the first machines I used as a guinea pig. Now unfortunately, I couldn’t tell if my efforts were successfully, not having a foot pedal!

The first thing I did was test out the stitching and man, did that machine purr like a kitten! I was so happy!

Then I promptly forgot about the broken machine on the slow boat from California or Texas, or wherever.

It arrived two nights ago! The first thing I did was take it out of the box and try to turn the hand wheel.  Sure enough, it was COMPLETELY LOCKED UP.  It wouldn’t move at all.  Thinking it was a lost cause, I put it away for the time being.


Today I was at Harbor Freight, and I picked up a small 100PSI air compressor for $59.00.  Our repair course instructor, Mr. White, suggested getting an air compressor and blow gun, as compressed air A) isn’t strong enough pressure to properly blow out all the dust and fuzz from the cracks and crevices of a sewing machine and B) can get ridiculously expensive.  I own a big air compressor, but it’s currently residing at my Dad’s house and to be honest, it’s quite large to bring inside into my sewing room.

So – I decided to put the air compressor together, and then I needed to play with it, so I decided to give the busted Kenmore 148 a once over.

First I laid down a layer of paper towels (in hindsight, I’ll probably use newspaper or even a layer of plastic first).

All Ready


I generally clean the outside last, but this thing was so filthy I felt like I couldn’t touch it without cleaning it first.

Here’s the inside of the bobbin case (there was a HUGE wad of fuzz that isn’t in the pictu

dirty bobbin case


This was just wiping it down ONCE.

needle barIsn’t that gross?

Well, it gets worse! What’s up with all this grease?


I took everything apart, cleaned it all, and oiled and greased (appropriately) the components that were screaming for it.  I gently began rocking the hand wheel and after several mins, the handwheel turned!  The needle barely moved at first.  And it would be nearly impossible to turn as the needle reached the highest point.  I took apart the handwheel, took off the belts, tested the motor, oiled, cleaned and reoiled all the components over again.  Suddenly it dawned on me to take the bobbin shuttle out.  Once I did this, the handwheel turned PERFECTLY.

Here’s a look at the backside of the bobbin race cover:

Bobbin race cover

See that black ring? That’s GRIME.

Here’s ONE of the three q-tips I used, soaked in Carb Cleaner, to get the grime off:

grimeNasty.  I had to clean it a couple of times, actually.  Hooked up the foot control/power cord, and got the silly thing running: Movie



I learned quite a lot:

1- Need thread tape on the threads of the aircompressor connections.

2- Air compressors are extremely loud and scare me EACH AND EVERY time they come on automatically!

3- Never skimp on carb cleaner

4-Some people like a lot of grease on their gears

5-Know the value of a sewing machine before you put too much into fixing it up.  (This machine is about 120 max on Craigslist/Ebay.  I spent $45 on buying it and shipping.  I then ordered another 34.00 in parts and shipping as well as $10 for the instruction manual.  Not a lot of profit left.)

6-Extension cords are my friend. And a powerstrip.  I had the sewing machine, a lamp, and the compressor all strung to outlets all over the room.  Would be nice to have a power strip to just plug everything in close at hand.

So that’s about it.  Well, actually.  Two more things.

I got really brave and posted an ad on Craigslist offering my services doing sewing machine tune ups!!!!  This is HUGE! So far I’ve only gotten spam, but well, that’s part of the process I guess.

Then, I ordered Quilting the Carolinas – Sewing machine repair business cards.  They are so cute.  Will take a pic once I have them (should be Monday).


Oh and ONE MORE THING!!!!  I have a special surprise giveaway (my first) coming up!  Very excited about it.  More details to follow!

Other Craft Projects:

11407268_10153318005379854_5709868883052795040_nSo my sister in law came over to my mom’s house one day last year and asked me if I could make a bag “like this one” (I don’t have a picture, but it was a simple drawstring bag with a lining).  I said I’m pretty sure I could, and shuffled off home to my sewing room to try to duplicate this bag for her.  She is a knitter, and she wanted something that could hold a ball of yarn, and would have a nice opening where the yarn would come through, keeping the yarn from tangling while she knitted.


I hit my stash and found some good options.  Good for cat pillows, anyway.






Here’s the first bag I made:


It only took about 30 mins to make this.

Basically the longest part was turning the drawstring!








Here are the pieces cut out:

10463876_10153318095404854_1111408318499740950_n  And here are two photos of a version I made for my husband: 11057778_10153316992304854_1132448930475149412_n11402780_10153316354714854_4875885530874578541_n










Ok, I’ll write up a step by step tutorial here soon…but it’s super easy.  You can probably figure it out from the cut pieces.  If not, no worries, I’ve got the step by step tutorial coming soon.


Other Craft Projects:

As I was cleaning up the sewing palace, I found a loosely folded pile of fabric and pattern pieces, which turned out to be a dress I had started working on but never finished.   This dressed straddled the time where I was struggling with the sizing of patterns vs sizing of store bought clothing.  The pattern was sized up to 20, but as I’ve previously said, my “pattern” size is really 26 or 28, depending on the pattern.  So, disappointed, I had folded up the pattern and fabric, and shoved it on a shelf.  Fast forward to this past Thursday, in my frenzy of cleaning, and after having just launched my newest web presence, Plus Sized Patterns, I decided that my buddy, Sheri, needed this dress, and it would fit her perfectly. 😀  Please excuse the state of the carpet in my photos. I desperately need to vacuum the sewing palace.  It’s all scraps of thread and fabric.


I laid out the fabric, IMG_1322

then placed the pattern pieces for cutting.


IMG_1326  In less than half an hour, I had a lovely dress nearly made.



Because the fabric is this light stretchy crepe, I decided that a nice rolled edge hem on the serger would be the proper treatment for the neckline, sleeves, and hem.  Having two sergers, one is always set up for the 3 thread rolled edge hem, and the other does a standard 4 thread overlock stitch.  I set up the rolled edge hem serger with the correct shade of thread, and started practicing on scrap fabric.  It immediately made a huge wad of thread and jammed up.  The racket it made while running was terrible to say the least!  After two hours of fighting with the serger, it dawned on me that this machine hadn’t been used in approximately two years.  AND, the last time it was used, I suspected it was in dire need of a tune up.  I took the two sewing machine repair classes, so I’m pretty handy tuning a regular sewing machine.  But we only briefly covered sergers, and what material we did cover didn’t stick at all.

Look at how fuzzy the inside is?  Haven’t touched it in forever. Due for a good cleaning!IMG_1328

So I called my local sewing machine repair guy…$150 for a tune up.  GULP.

I really didn’t want to spend that much money, but I was excited to finish my first post at my new blog.   So…I looked on Amazon, and a new serger was 189.00!

For 39.00 more, I could have a new, better, machine, delivered to my front door.

I went ahead and bought the new one, got it 3 days later, and executed a perfect rolled edge hem within minutes of turning it on.IMG_1360

IMG_1361Can’t hardly see the rolled edge, the color of thread matches so perfectly.


I Finished the dress this evening and gave it to Sheri.  She reports it fits well, but is uhm…rather see-through.  She is going to find a slip and see if it’s useable then.


Other Craft Projects:

This project was one of the more challenging of my sewing career (going on 40 years now), but I was able to get it out the door in a short time frame, and my friend is finding it very useful, so it’s a win all around.

So here’s the story of the walker bag:


My friend Tricia posted on Facebook that she was struggling to carry items while using a walker.  I remembered seeing a walker bag pattern in a pattern book the last time I was at the fabric store, so a quick trip to the Googles, and I had found this pattern.














I even offered to make it for her, and she excitedly took me up on my offer.  I had the PERFECT fabric for this techie girl, Mod Geek Eyeglasses Atmosphere Grey . FabricChoices I sent her the link and she quickly gave her approval.  We were off!!










My friend Sheri graciously picked up the pattern for me at Joann’s, using a 40% off coupon, getting the pattern for 9.60.  Better than the online sale that Simplicity was currently having.  I thought I had several yards of the fabric, but when I pulled it out of my stash, I only had one yard!  When I got the pattern, I read the back and realized it called for 1 and 1/8th yards.  Doh! First fail.

Second fail realization came shortly after.  I looked at the “recommended fabric” and was shocked to find “Double-Faced Pre-Quilted Fabric” as the fabric choice.  Grrr.  The nerdy fabric didn’t meet that requirement either.


Now.  At this point I SHOULD have gone back to my friend and pointed her to’s dizzying array of Pre-Quilted fabrics (I love the owls).  But I was determined to make this happen for her.  Instead I found a semi-matching nerdy fabric, Science Fair Formulas Grey, which I would use for a backing, and grabbed some cotton batting from the stash to MAKE some quilted fabric.  I cut the backing to a yard, and ironed it, then laid it on top of the Eyeglasses fabric.  Oddly, it wasn’t as wide (was a yard long, but wasn’t 44-45 inches wide!).  It was only about 42.5 inches wide!  Oh well, I thought, won’t be an issue.  I use basting spray and made a quilt sandwich with the fabrics.














I cut out the pattern pieces and ironed them,PatternCutoutIroned and then looked at the layout for cutting. LayoutForCutting



The major piece used all assumed 45 inches of the width of the fabric.



Now.  At THIS point I should have stopped, gone back to my friend and said, “Hey, can you pick out some different fabric from”  But NO.

Stubbornly, I instead PIECED another 3 inches onto the backing fabric, just wide enough for the front/back pattern piece.  This upset me terribly.  I wonder if anyone notices it when they see the bag now, but honestly at the time, I was on the verge of tears over having to do this.


But, we make do, right?!?! And I did.


PiecesCutOut I cut out the rest of the pattern pieces and fabric from my impromptu quilt (which I didn’t quilt, as my husband’s Poe quilt is still on the long arm and I was too lazy to run it through the DM – instead I’m relying on the basting spray and a hopeful idea that it won’t need to be washed frequently), and read the instructions step 1.

(I left the picture of this on my camera, I’ll add it tonight)

Um.  WTH?  I had no idea what it meant.  First I’m to sew the bottom and sides of the side tab, then center the long seam, then sew across the bottom again?  In the picture it looks perfectly flat, but in real life, it’s physically impossible.




Here’s a pic of the side and bottom sewn:SideTabSewingAcrossBottom

Did they make a mistake on the instructions?  It looks like a horrible mess.  I was once again on the verge of tears.  I walked away from it twice, thinking I clearly couldn’t read instructions properly.  I examined the diagram.  No, it was clearly telling me to sew the bottom, shift the seam then sew the bottom again. Which DOES NOT WORK.

Then I struggled to turn the damn thing right side out.

There were 7 total tabs that needed this treatment, so in the  end I scrapped the pattern instructions and just “did my own thing.”  I didn’t sew the bottom ¼” seam, and instead sewed across the bottom after centering the lengthwise seam.  This made really nicely squared tabs, unlike the previous attempt. Here’s a pic of comparing the two:

Having tried one other way of doing the tabs, there was another wonky one, but the rest came out ok















The rest of the pattern went ok.  It was tough sewing several layers of the quilted tabs, Velcro, and the back, or the pockets with their gussets made it three-dimensional and hard to manage under the presser foot.  I should have engaged the Feed thingie (technical term) on my Pfaff, but honestly I forgot about it until the very end, when it snagged the bias tape and caught my attention.


Here’s a collection of pictures of the sewing progress:SewingOnVelcroPinningBindingOntoPocket  GussetSewnOntoPocketOtherSide BindingSewnOntoPocketPocketsSewnTogether SloppyBindingSewing














The final problem I encountered with this pattern and the construction was with adding the bias tape binding.  The directions indicated if you put the wider side underneath, then you simply sewed through all the layers and magically it would catch the bottom.  Well, that really didn’t work when the fabric you are encasing was SEVERAL thicknesses of the “quilt.”  It slipped and in several places I went back and whip-stitched the bias tape into place rather than re-sew the seams and junk up the front.  The exception I made was to re-inforce the tabs with an extra row of stitches.  This was to A) capture the underside of bias tape in many cases and B) give extra strength to the seam.

Here’s the final two pictures, one of the bag in use
























(Photo Credit, Tricia Owen)

Other Craft Projects: