Deliveries in Vietnam

I can’t tell you how over-the-top excited I was to get this message on my Facebook wall from my dear friend Mrs. Hanh:
[I am so in love with her English skills…just adorable. I wrote about her in my book and it always made me smile to write her dialogue.]

But the real point is: Box one has arrived!!! There will be at least six, sent one at a time until we can find our way back over and we’ll take the remainder with us.

It’s great to hear that it’s arrived and the orphans will begin getting all the treasures that were made them. Unfortunately, we probably won’t get pictures from Mrs. Hanh as I doubt she has the technology and now that the volunteers are no longer in Tam Ky, there are no foreigners with cameras to call on for pics. I promise if I get any, though, I’ll post them.

Thanks again to everyone who helped out with my Sewing for Orphans project. I’m thrilled that although the deadline has long passed, I keep getting little deliveries for the orphans. Just lovely.

xo, t!

Thank Goodness for Scrap Sixteenths

What did you spend your long Thanksgiving weekend doing? I spent the bulk of three days cutting down my scraps in to useable and saleable pieces: fat sixteenths. I really love this size for its ability to be used for crafts or patchwork or just little accents on projects and have been wanting to make my scrap stash a little more useful.


With the recent need to move into a new place, though, it means I need to sell them more than keep them. Suddenly I have deposits to pay, a refrigerator to stock and furniture to buy and on the same old paycheck I’ve been getting. What’s a girl with a ridiculous amount of fabric supposed to do? Sell it, of course!


There are a dozen or so up on the Etsy site now, with plenty more to come, along with coffee cozy kits that are a little slower to get up (I ran out of parts for the covered button–oops!).


The little cuties are 9- by 11-inches and are only $3 each. Check ’em out and spread the word, if you wouldn’t mind.

xo, t!


20121119-200304.jpgThe night finally came and I had to hand over the camera bag that I’d worked so hard on. The three of us did birthday dinner (at Olive Garden, once more) and gave her presents.

Now, fifteen-year-olds can be tough customers and my daughter certainly fits that stereotype, but she really did seem to like it. She found a spot I’d forgotten to sew and didn’t notice the topstitching that was making me insane with its blatant disregard for a straight line.

It’s always a bit nerve-wracking for me to give those I love the most things that I’ve made. I’m afraid they’ll see all the mistakes and think less of me for it. I have no idea why it stresses me out, but boy, oh boy, does it! Thankfully it all went well tonight and she has a new camera bag for the camera she worked so hard to get.

Next post… a pattern review.

WIP: Camera Bag

I told her months ago, I’d make her a camera bag for her birthday. We’re down to six days left and I’ve been thwarted by mechanical issues. But I pulled out my old machine, the one who’s never let me down and got a bunch done last night.


The exterior is nearly finished and I’ve cut out all the rest of the pieces, so it should be a pretty straightforward assembly from here on out.

The peacoat, on the other hand? Well, I still can’t find that pattern. And I already have two copies of it. How does that happen?


Breaking points

If you read the last post, you know I love my sewing machine. But as much as I love it, I hate when it (or any other machine) isn’t working quite right. I find it sooooo frustrating. I don’t have as much time as I’d like to just sit at the machine sewing my own things which means that when I do, I want it to just work.

So you can imagine, this wasn’t making me real happy:


That’s only seven of the eleven needles that snapped on Saturday afternoon. I reloaded the bobbin, dropped and lifted the feed dogs, reloaded the bobbin again, trying to figure out just what was making it happen over and over and over again. It was nearly every time I hit the backstitch and sometimes, even when I was just going through a bunch of layers. I couldn’t figure it out and was  getting more irate with the stupidity of wasting so much time on changing needles. Finally I ran out of needles and just gave up.

Sunday afternoon, the fellow I bought the machine from came over to see what the problem could be. Come to find out, the 1/4″ foot I bought from him didn’t have a long enough space for the needle and when I was back stitching, it was moving the needle just enough to come down and slam into the foot.

He took a little Dremel and drilled that slit back a little further and -bam- it worked just fine. (Who knew you could do that?!)

I also had him fix the presser foot; it was just to low to effectively shove 8 layers of fabric under. Yeah, that camera bag has some serious layering going on. 😉

xo, t!

Know Thy Machine

Thanks to Shruti for putting on this little blog tour of sewing machines. It’s been quite fun following along to see all the variety of machines and, especially for me, what makes them special for the owner. Thanks to Shruti for inviting me and thank YOU for coming along!

Now to the questions…

What machine(s) do you have? Brand and Model.
I sew on a lovely old machine: a 1954 Pfaff 130. I have one at home and one in the sewing studio. I also own one of the little IKEA machines and I dream of having a new Bernina like the ones I have used at Modern Domestic.

20121109-103349.jpgWhen and where did you buy it? 

I bought the first Pfaff 130 about 10 years ago at a Montavilla Sewing Center. Or rather my mom bought it for me to help me with the little apron business I had. The fellow at the shop said it would outlast me and he may be right. I’ve sewn for hundreds of hours and haven’t yet had to make any repairs.

What was its approximate cost?
It was $700. I bought another for $400 and spend $70 on the IKEA machine.

What do you like about your machine?
I love that it’s a little speed demon and never breaks down. It’s a semi-industrial, so there are no bells or whistles. Just straight and zig-zag stitching. I don’t mind because I can sew a straight seam faster than anyone I know on that machine. 🙂

Have you named it?
I don’t name things. I’m terrible at coming up with nicknames and machines never really “look like a <name>” to me.

Have you made a cover for it?
I didn’t make a cover for my home machine, but Kate at SewPo made a cute hexie cover using Kate Spain fabrics (who just happens to be one of my faves!)

Does your machine give you any problems? Could you tell us a few?
Besides the fact that buttonholes are a real pain in the arse with it? Nope, not a single problem.

What do you sew on it mainly?
I sew a little bit of everything–coats, quilts, bags, dresses, pillows and potholders. If if can be sewn, I’ll do it.

How much time do you spend sewing on it?
Not enough! With a full-time job and a teenage daughter, I don’t have nearly the time I’d like to sit in front of my machine. It makes me happy in my core to sew, so I really do wish I could do it more. But I fit it in when I can.

What are the features of the machine that help you improve your work?
Speed! Otherwise, it’s really the feet that I adore. I finally got a walking foot, which I love! I also use 1/4″ foot, walking foot, rolled hem foot and zipper foot a lot and they make a lot of tasks easier.

What advice would you give others when deciding about which machine to buy?
Really consider what you’ll be sewing on your machine. I like sewing bags and coats that require a bit more oomph in the machine to get through all those layers and I don’t care if I can make fancy stitches, so my machine is great for me. But if you’re going to be doing a lot of little girl dresses, you might want those fancy stitches. If you’re new to sewing, buy the best machine you can afford. A lousy machine that jams or breaks threads or whatever makes it difficult to enjoy the act of sewing. Nothing will end your foray into sewing and quilting like a frustrating machine.

Will you share with us a special memory associated with your machine?
There’s nothing in particular, but that machine is near and dear to my heart. It’s been through a dozen moves with me and hundreds of projects and just keeps on going.

If you had unlimited resources in the world, which machine would you choose to buy and why?
I would love to get one of the Bernina machines because I’ve sewn on them and liked some of the features (the up/down needle thing, the exact stitch length, all those feet!), but I haven’t yet got into looking too closely at which model. When I win the lottery, I’ll put some time into researching which one is best for me!

Until then you can find me seated at one of my machines, stitching the weekend away.

xo! t



oh life.

Moving yet again.I keep thinking that this job/housemate/idea will be the one that changes things for me, that makes life easier. But I’m often wrong. This past month, it’s been made all the more obvious that I was wrong yet again. I’ve realized that some people just won’t click, no matter how much I cheer from the sidelines: Please, can’t we all just get along?

They couldn’t and one hurt feeling led to another and that led to doing things to purposely upset the other. It’s no way to spend every evening, every weekend, playing referee. So I stopped. I forfeited the game, I guess.

The daughter and I are looking for a new place to call home. Somewhere we can stay awhile. A place where we can deal with the ups and downs of teenage years, together.

Despite the piles of boxes while we camp out at my son’s apartment, I’m still plotting new things to sew. First two on the list: camera bag and pea coat for my daughter’s upcoming birthday. I’ve got two weeks. Think I can do it?


Threadbias pincushion swap

I’m a big fan of Threadbias, even though I don’t seem to get over there as often as I’d like. It’s a great site for sewists and quilters to share their projects and be inspired by the amazing work of others. One of the best things about it, honestly, are the people there. Everyone is so supportive of each other. It’s the perfect place to go when you need to have someone say ooh and aah over what you just made.

Recently I signed up for my first swap through them, a pincushion swap with Gena from Ontario, Canada. I made her this one using scraps of fabric from Art Gallery’s Alhambra II collection, with a little slice o’ selvage. I’m in love with the colors and their fabrics have a nice hand–soft, but not limp.


I made a double layer for the bottom and stuffed it with lentils to give it a little weight. I like added oomph that the lentils give it. I’ve also used rice to weight pincushions and that works just as well.

And Gina sent me this… a little mouse pincushion (complete with braided tail and whiskers!) and some little bits and baubles. She included a pack of pins, a bodkin (something I always thought of buying, but never have) and some chocolates that I ate faster than I could snap a photo. Oops.


It’s super cute and sitting on my desk at work, reminding me to enjoy the creative process and the thrill of handmade. Thanks so much, Gina!