Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Week 2 Project

Welp, I definitely procrastinated on this one.  As I was contemplating the impending deadline, I realized that I am not crazy about sewing.  I like the ability to make something or fix it or to alter a garment, but I don’t really enjoy the process as much as I do other projects.  I think it is because there is a machine involved.  Even though mine is a very simple machine with all manual controls, I still manage to have difficulty.   (Yes, I know, this is a gift.)  This sewing time’s fiasco included a random spring in the base of my machine by the bobbin that was loose and mis-threading the machine.   It took me a bit to get that all sorted out and the tension corrected but it eventually worked out.  This just adds to the time and increases my frustration with a project I’m already intimidated by.  Good news:  I didn’t let it make me cry or throw a tantrum.  Yay me! 

On Wednesday I had breakfast with my family which was wonderful.  I haven’t seen Debby or her fiancĂ© Ian in months.  I also got to see my parents who recently moved 2 hours away and one of my other sisters Becca and my second youngest brother Joey along with a couple of nieces and a nephew.  I got my sister Debby’s measurements before saying goodbye but I didn’t start on the clothes until Saturday night.  It was the deadline and not wanting to bomb on the second week that made me get it done.  Seriously, not wanting to be a disappointment is what pushed me. 

So back to the scary zippers.  I seam ripped my skirt first and realized this was going to be just as hard as I feared to put the zipper back in.  I took pictures to help remember how it went. There were several parts and the zipper didn’t start at the top but was inset a bit to allow for a hook and eye closure.   I was blessed to find a zipper that was a close enough color and length to work in my zipper stash.

Broken zipper photo to help remind me where the zipper started and how it was stitched.

Basically the major part of messing up a zipper is to have the tops not line up.  To solve this issue, I have learned to sew in one side of the zipper and then zip it up and pin in the other side.  When you are making a garment, this is often easier because the seams haven’t been finished yet and you can tuck in the top of the zipper salvage. 

This piece goes inside the skirt to protect your skin from the zipper.

I successfully sewed in what I would consider the harder side to do and went on to the easy side.  I thought to take a shortcut and just sew the two layers of fabric with the zipper at the same time.  This was not a good idea. 

That’s not what it is supposed to look like!

A big lesson I learned through my mistake is that you should always sew the zipper to the edge of the seam allowance before putting in the final top stitching.  On this skirt I thought to get away with just the final seam but it didn’t catch the zipper in the stitching line.

So I ripped it back out, sewed the inside first, flipped it in and sewed the final outside seam.  It worked so much better this time.  I finished the top waistband seam by hand sewing it as I didn’t want to take apart the whole waist band to tuck in the zipper salvage and then added the hook and eye.  It took me about an hour to finish minus the bother I had with my sewing machine.  We got it fixed and I finished the hardest of the three projects first.  Then it just gets easier that way.

DONE!  One of my favorite skirts is back in commission.

Next was the sweater.  Ripping the zipper out was very easy and putting a new zipper back in looked to be very doable.  Sweet!  Only problem was I didn’t have the right kind of zipper in the right size or color.  Unlike the skirt zipper, a jacket type zipper doesn’t have a stop at the bottom.  Rather it has a pin that inserts into the box on the bottom of the zipper allowing the sides of the garment to completely separate.  The only candidate in my stash was a heavy black zipper several inches too long.

The zipper is sandwiched between the front of the sweater and a strip of knitted “ribbon”.

Off to JoAnn I went with a 60% off coupon and a half hour before the store closed.  All I needed was a 19” jacket zipper in a tan color.  You know where this is going right?  I couldn’t find one.  I enlisted the help of the staff and learned something very interesting and ridiculous at the same time.  Apparently clothing manufacturers make their clothing with zippers measuring in odd numbers while zipper manufactures make coat zippers in the larger lengths only in even measurements.  I could get a 7 or 9 inch zipper or a 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 (and so on) inch zipper but no 19 inch ones.  The employee told me that JoAnn only has the even numbers available.  I would have to special order one or find one online.  Huh….

Gonna have to settle…good thing sweaters stretch a bit.

So I came home with the closest thing I could find and hoped that it would fit.  Learning my lesson from the skirt, I sewed the knitted ribbon and zipper together first.  While I did use the zipper foot, I didn’t need to use it on this project as the seam did not need to be close to the teeth.  In fact when I tried to sew the zipper to the front of the sweater, it wouldn’t even work due to the thickness of the knit.  The back edge got caught in the weave.  I used the regular foot and had to pull the sweater through.

The zipper foot lets you sew very close to the zipper.  


Due to the extra inch in the zipper and the fact I had to pull the knit through the sewing machine, the sweater is a tad misshapen.  I hope that after I run it through the wash and reshape it to dry, it will straighten out.   In any case, this sweater is wearable now and I am happy with it.

The last project was my sister’s skirt.  I pulled out my dress form and found where 32 inches around fell on the hips and then pinned the skirt to it inside out.  I was very surprised to see the skirt band was already exactly 32 inches.  I should have had my sister just try on the skirt again rather than take her measurements.  Lesson #2 learned in this project.

Huh… well… it’s perfect?

Despite Sir T’s declaration of, “You’re done!”,  I decided that I should take in the waist just a little bit.  My sister has a more slender shape and has a small waist to hip ratio.  Her complaint was that the skirt hung too low on her hips and felt like it was going to fall off.  I decided to put two darts in the back of the skirt to tighten up the waist band and to give her a little shape on the backside. 

I used a ruler and pins to mark where I wanted my darts.

I put in two ¼ inch deep darts in the back to bring the waist band down an inch in total on the top edge.  I ran the dart down to null at the bottom of the two inch wide band so I didn’t engage the inside layer.  Keeping it simple here.


After machine sewing the dart in place, I whip stitched the dart flat to the band.  This makes for a tidy and more comfortable wearing experience.  With the colorful pattern of the material, the darts are camouflaged.

Outside edge of skirt waistband

Yay!  I’m done!  I will mail Debby her skirt and have to run my skirt and sweater through the wash but the mending is complete.  I was a bit discouraged about my abilities on this one but making myself just DO IT was the biggest hurdle.   I would not say that putting in zippers is great fun but they aren’t as scary anymore…  well I dunno, I might change my mind again. 

So onto next week’s challenge.  I am going to be grateful I don’t have to do another zipper and get to play with paper.  I have a magnet board that Sir T put together for me from a metal stovepipe I found at restore and a $1 frame that had lost its glass from a second hand store.  We made it into our gratitude board.

This board is at the end of our hall and a wonderful reminder to choose gratitude

To expose the fact that yes, this board has not been updated since AUGUST is pride crunching and I don’t like it.  I would love to be able to say that I am up to date, perfect and on time.  Um… nope, ah, this is WHY I have to do this challenge – to push myself to catch up. 

So I will show you my pile of papers and tell you next week how this works.  It is better late than never and it is never too late to engage.  Yes there are definitely consequences for lack of timeliness, but since my habit is to never start, I have to encourage myself that it is NOT too late.  I have to admit that I have not sent a thank you card or a note of encouragement because I was too embarrassed that it was late and worried about reminding the person that I am tardy.  That selfishness on my part robbed another person of a small blessing of acknowledgement and gratitude.  That has to stop in my life and since I have found that most principles apply much wider than the obvious, I need to apply it to this aspect of my life too.  “It is not too late to do good and don’t worry about your pride… it needs to be broken anyway” said me to me.

This is what a pile of thankfulness looks like….

Monday, January 8, 2018

Week 1 Project

My project for this week was decorating my wooden stool seat that had been water damaged.  I had previously drawn the design I wanted on it and started wood burning before it sat neglected on my drafting table which had become a dumping ground rather than a work surface.  I knew that it would take a bit of time to finish this project but I have to say that I completely underestimated it. Thankfully I started early in the week on Monday, January 1 instead of my normal procrastination or else I would not have gotten it done or be very happy with the mediocre outcome. 

Starting the wood burning again.

I have a Burnmaster ‘HAWK – 110V” high power wood burner.  My father-in-law generously donated the funds to purchase this equipment for the very small repayment of wood burning a walking stick for him.  I do believe I have a few more projects I should do for him.  This wood burner has a heat adjuster that controls the temperature of the pen.  I have found that when wood burning for long periods of time, the handle of the implement gets very hot and I need to wrap the handle with a towel or some sort of buffer.  Someday I will find a silicon glove or hand mitt that I can use while burning which still allows me some dexterity in movement. 

I have a bad habit of leaning really really close to my work.  I had a crinked neck for most of the week.

Wood burning is done by burning the wood with a hot piece of metal.  The hotter the metal, the quicker it burns a hole.  The density of the wood also affects the quality of the burn.  If you leave the pen in place too long, it will just create a hole rather than a line.  It takes a bit of practice but becomes fairly easy when you get the hang of it.  Burning creates a small amount of smoke and the room always smells like a nice campfire when I’m working.  Burning also creates ash which can build up on the pen tip and impede the burning of the wood.  A trick I learned when I worked at Dutch Village as one of their artists and wood burned names on various tourist trinkets and wooden shoes (among other art projects) was to wipe the tip on a piece of sand paper.  The sand on the paper scrapes off the ash as well as prevents the paper from catching on fire.

Cleaning off the pen tip.  The “freckles” are from when I let the tip rest a touch too long.

I finished the wood burning in two sessions.  My hand gets too hot and stiff to finish it in one go.  It took about 4 hours total for the wood burning to be completed.  I went slow and tried to make my lines firm and tidy.

Quitting for the night, after about 3 hours of burning.
Whooo Hooo!!  Done with step 1 of 3!

Next was painting!
I got out all the colors that I thought I would use and started in an easy place, the sunflowers and daisy.  While I know that my flowers are not realistic, I did want them to be believable.  Thus I started with the sunflowers for easy decisions.

It looks like I’m going to paint piglet somewhere on the stool.

I really enjoyed painting but it took me about 10 hours to complete.  Ironically, the first flowers I started were the last ones I finished.  I got the petals done no problem but I got stuck on the centers.  I decided to wood burn them and paint them rather than just burn the whole middle. 

My workspace is a mess but the stool top is finished!

Step 2 of 3 done!  Now it just needs to be sealed so off to my dad it goes.

Part of finishing a project is cleaning up the mess.  I spent a half hour or so putting all the paint supplies away, packing up the wood burner from which I had to wipe a layer of dust off and finally tidying my drafting table.  I wiped down all the surfaces, reorganized my supplies, and added another plant.  Never too many plants in one room of course and it keeps the air clean.  Now I can say I have successfully completed week 1!  Yay me! 

Ok, Now onto week 2’s goal.  I have several items that need to be mended or altered.  One of them is a skirt that I want to fix for my sister Deb.  She gave me the skirt last summer because, although she really liked it, it was too big for her.   I am… ahem…. both her big sister and bigger sister and so she gave it to me.  It is a cute skirt but I thought I would alter it to fit her and give it back.  She lives in Utah and will be visiting Michigan this week so I am going to measure her and get this skirt done and back to her.  I know that I will probably have to mail it to her but I am determined to at least get her measurements when I see her this week.

Cute little Debby skirt and you can see my clean drafting table!

The other two items both have zipper issues.  One of my favorite skirts that is very flattering on me regardless of current weight and a 100% cotton sweater with a hood both need help.  The sweater has been in the mending pile for well over a year and the skirt is a much more recent addition of about a month.  Zippers are scary.  Well, not really but they are a lot of work and I just have to sit down and DO it knowing that I am not great at them and sometimes it doesn’t come out as well as I would like.  So this will be a test of if I can get them fixed or if they get flung.

Zipper has several broken / missing teeth,
probably from when I tried to pull it off without having the zipper all the way down.

I got this sweater with the zipper in trouble already but now it is hopeless.

Well, this week the seam ripper comes out, the zipper stash gets raided in hopes of a correct length and color zipper and we shall see if these clothes can be made useful again.  If not, well then flung it shall have to be.  I do know that I will have to monitor my time well as I have lots of things going on this week including teaching a dance class for the next two weeks at a local high school for winter interim.  This will fill my afternoons and with my evenings filled with volleyball games, meetings for events that I coordinate and visiting my family in another town, I will have to get really intentional with my time.  Let’s see how bad I want it.

One last shot… I’m pretty happy with it.

Monday, January 1, 2018

52 Weeks of Fix it, Finish it or Fling it.

We recently came home from the Winter Musician’s Festival 2017 where I had been invited as a performer, teacher and worship dance leader.  My reason for going was to give of my talent but I think I learned more than I taught.  There were many classes and opportunities to experience the how and why of music, voice and film.  While there was much technical advice and discussion given in the different workshops, the thing I found most precious to me was the exhortation to do, to practice, and to not let the fear of failure hinder the gift that I have been given.

Fitting title for this photo I think – Music in motion.

Flag dance presentation: Marvelous Light by Ellie Holcomb

While I was at the festival in the capacity of dance, I have other talents that run to the artistic side such as word art, watercolor, sewing, scrapbooking, crafting, wood burning and painting.  I have ability but I lack the passion to do unless I am asked, hired or am solving a problem.  I don’t often just do for the joy of doing.  I have piles of ideas and supplies that have not been started, just moved from one place to the next in my Blessings Room. 

Pile of fabric, old jeans and clothes that need mending stored in a tub that travels around the room.

I have contemplated WHY I don’t engage many times in my past and have realized that I fear failure.  I know that I can, but I worry about not completing the project perfectly.  Yes, I can encourage my students to not worry about mistakes and learn from them, but it seems that I do not believe my own words.  It is not just the failure I fear but the repercussions of failing that terrify me. Recently I have looked for the root cause of this problem and have found several circumstances have affected me. 

As a child, an adult with great influence in my family, set an impossible standard of perfection and implied that the Heavenly Father also required this of me for acceptance.  I grew up believing that if I was not perfect, bad things would happen to me and loved ones.  I believed the lie that I caused the bad things in my life because of my imperfection.  Death, suicide, sexual assault, lack of wants being met, told no to most of my expressed dreams and rejection from peers are some of the “bad things” that crushed my desire to try things that I was not immediately proficient at.  It has shaped my life more than I realized. 

While I no longer view my Heavenly Father through the eyes of a child taught by this twisted, sad sick man, my habits haven’t changed in regards to my fear of failing.  I now believe that I am loved.  Not because I have earned it (I can’t earn grace no matter how hard I try to be perfect) but because my Heavenly Father has chosen to love me.  I know that my fear that He will punish me for failing is unfounded and a lie.  I am starting to understand that to not try is actually an example of failing. 

At the festival, I was convicted of my fear and greatly encouraged to try through several amazing young people’s presentations.  While there, I committed to change.   However, to want to try isn’t enough; you gotta make a PLAN to implement that try.  So I am going to begin an endeavor to complete 52 weeks of fix it, finish it or fling it.  I will make a list of projects that have been languishing in my Blessings Room and spend one week on each one.  I am sure in the beginning it will be easy to find a project that is more along the lines of fix it or finishing it.  I have several I can think of off the top of my head.

Current state of my drafting table, you can’t even see the wood burning project.

I am also embracing the idea of letting a project go.  My perfection demands that I have to do it, regardless of current interest or need.  To give a project away is not a bad thing; it is choosing what I want my priorities to be and deciding to make “the best yes” for me.  I will not feel guilty for “flinging” a project but instead, rejoice that someone else will be able to enjoy the project as their best yes.

So onto the plan – I will post my project for the week to come in this blog.  Next week, I will show you the process and finished project along with the following week’s goal.  I hope that incorporating my goal into my blog will help me keep accountable and hopefully be fun.  Who knows, you may learn how to do a new craft or may be able to give me advice on my next project.

Wooden stool top waiting to be finished.

I want to finish my stool for next week.  It is one I use in the kitchen and had gotten damaged by water.  The finish was wearing off; it had scratches and looked terrible.  T took off the top, my dad sanded it down and I started to wood burn the design I drew on it.  I have only finished part of it and it has since languished on my drafting table for months.  I am going to finish the wood burning, paint the design and then send it off to my dad to put several coats of high grade polyurethane on it to protect it from water.  Then I will finally have my kitchen stool back.

This is my project for 2018.  What healing will you search after in your life this next year?  I invite you to join me on your own 52 week project.  You are more than welcome to join me in my adventure or come up with your own.  Please post your ideas and pictures in the comments.  This will be fun and I will enjoy the learning process as I am sure not every project will turn out great but that is ok.  This is how I will learn to do better, safe in the realization that it is ok to mess up.  I am still loved.

This small chalkboard sits at my backdoor and is a good reminder.
Nope, not perfect as I free hand drew it without guidelines, BUT it is done and makes me smile.