Tag Archives: Sewing machine

What I learned from my mama

So…it’s Mother’s Day. I don’t remember much about Mother’s Day when I was little. I don’t think we ever fixed her breakfast in bed or took her out for dinner. The truth is, she probably cooked for us on those days, but I could be wrong. You’d have to ask her.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that most of us don’t come to really appreciate our moms until later in life when we finally realize what all they taught us.

My own mother turns 90 in about five weeks. 90. Wow. That simply amazes me. This is the woman who is still teaching me new things nearly every time I’m with her. She might not realize this, because often these are things that I learn simply from watching her and listening to her.

Yesterday, I called her at 8 a.m. and began to apologize for waking her up. She just laughed and said she’d been up for hours and was out walking “way out here in Birch Court”, which is probably a good half mile from her place.

So there you have it. One of the things I learned from her is the value of exercise — at any age, and despite whatever aches and pains might be nagging at us.

My mom and dad raised five kids on a small college professor‘s salary, supplemented by her earnings as a piano teacher. She sewed, gardened, preserved the produce, and knew how to stretch a dollar. And while I learned to sew and garden, the one thing I regret never really learning is how to budget. It scares me. But I did inherit her tendency toward thriftiness — also known as “cheap”. 

When I reflect on the many things I learned from my mom, the one I value the most is the ability to sew. Because of her, I’ve always made clothing for myself and my daughters. One of the first things I remember making was is the early 60s when wrap-around dresses were popular. These resembled the hospital gowns that have three armholes. She made one for herself and one for me, and I made one for my doll.

And that was how I learned the art of sewing. From doll clothes, I progressed to simple clothing for myself. Of course, this is also where I learned my propensity for perfection. If I made a mistake that had to be ripped out and begged her to fix it, she’d fix me with a look and say, “Nope, you do it.”

That drove me nuts. It often resulted in my throwing the item down and running off to do something else. But eventually, I returned to complete the project. As a result, I can read nearly any pattern, change whatever parts I don’t like, and alter just about any item of clothing to fit me.

Now that I’m thinking about this, I’m pretty sure I’ve never thanked her for teaching me to sew, to look at a ready-made clothing item and instead of buying it, thinking that I could make it for less and know it would fit better.

So Mother, thanks. I love you. For many, many reasons.

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Sewing and photography collide

On the surface, cameras and sewing machines don’t have much in common but in our house, both are important tools. Once in awhile, though, the two are essential to each other.

I know very little about my husband’s cameras — especially the newest digital — and he knows even less about my sewing machines — one digital, the other built before the era of digital. But having lived with me for 32 years, he recognizes my need for a sewing challenge.

So…he recently asked if I could create some fabric pouches for two of his filters. He has several filters for his camera lenses. Some aren’t used very often. For example, the purple one is used when shooting indoors in a room with florescent lights. It eliminates the “yellow” look of the photo. The other one is an outdoor cloud filter. It enhances clouds on summer days.

Although he doesn’t use these often he wants to carry them in his camera bag for those times when he does need them. Just throwing them into the bag wasn’t an option — he doesn’t want to scratch them…thus the request for the small pouches.

No hurry, he said. Naturally, the filters sat untouched on my sewing desk for about a week. Every time I sat down at my machine, there they sat, staring up at me as if they were two different colored eyes — one purple, the other gray.

Eventually, those eyes got to me and I realized it was time to tackle the project. Like most seamstresses, I have a lot of fabric sitting around just waiting to be used.  This required something soft, like fleece. Fortunately, I had saved an odd remnant of black fleece. It was perfect.

When I do this kind of sewing, I have to play around with the fabric until I come up with something that makes sense. I set one filter on the fabric and measured a rectangle so that I could create a sort of pocket with a flap. I measured about 1 1/2 inches from the top and made a horizontal line, then folded the rectangle, bringing the bottom edge up to the line. I sewed double seams on each side of the rectangle — close to the edge, then folded the top 1 1/2 inches over the opening.

The nice thing about fleece is that it doesn’t ravel so you can leave the edges unfinished. I used small squares of Velcro as closures — sewing the soft side to the pocket flap and the coarse side to the upper side of the pocket.

In the end, the pouches turned out perfectly, and the hubs was happy with the product. Now I just need to find a market for these things — I have LOTS of fleece remnants just waiting for the next set of lenses.

On why today’s response was useless…depending on how you view it

So far today, it appears I’ve been pretty useless as far as work-related questions go. Here’s the thing. When my boss sallies forth from his office in the suite across the hall, sits down in one of my chairs and says, “May I ask you a question?”, I usually figure we’re in for a long chat. Not that I object, you understand. These discussions are usually challenging and good for waking up my brain. And they let me ignore all the pending calls posted on my recruiting calendar — at least for a little bit longer.

Today’s conversation went like this:

Ted: You have a Kindle, right?

Me: No

Ted: A Nook?

Me: Nope

Ted: An e-reader of some sort?

Me: Not a one.

Ted: Hmmmmmm….do you know if a student can access curriculum on Moodle using his/her e-reader?

Me: Beats me.

Ted: Well, I can see you’re pretty useless today.

Me: Pretty much.

The conversation didn’t end there, but truthfully, I was pretty useless as far as answering his questions except I did suggest the person who might have the answers. So technically, I wasn’t useless. And I did offer some insight into the advantages and disadvantages of posting course materials on our course management system.

Good thing it’s Friday. My usefulness will obviously be limited today. Not that it’s much better on other days of the week, but at least for today I can blame it on the fact that it is Friday.

It’s also a good thing that there are only two of us in the office today, because that means questions will be limited…at least within the office. There’s always at least a zillion students out there just waiting to test my usefulness. That doesn’t take into account two daughters, one husband, one mother, four brothers, and any number of friends who might wish to consult today.

Which, by the way, has already happened. Daughter number o ne– just about on break from teaching and studying — has already sent me two distractions this morning. One was an animated image of how a sewing machine works and the other was a reference to Reddit, a source for what’s new online, and which is where she found the sewing machine image. Fortunately, she has not asked any questions of me today. She knows better.

But I digress…back to the e-reader questions. Here are the reasons I don’t have one.

1.) I’m too cheap to buy one and there are other things I rather spend my money on.
2.) I LOVE going to the library, searching for a new book to read.
3.) I look at a computer screen much of the day and at night, I’d rather read print text.
4.) The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday on “E-Book Readers Face Sticker Shock”, claiming that “The price gap between the print and e-versions of some top sellers has now narrowed to within a few dollars—and in some cases, e-books are more expensive than their printed equivalents.”

So there you have it. I’m not completely useless. I’ve pointed my boss in the right direction for an answer to his question, and I’ve given my husband a reason NOT to buy me an e-reader for Christmas.