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A Sewing Machine Repair Which Will Live in Infamy

this is what happens, stevie!

The “experts” at Steve’s Sewing and Vacuum installed my thread guide backwards on my sewing machine before charging me an arm and leg for a repair and tune-up. I just discovered it when I tried to thread my machine and…couldn’t. I have learned many things through one of the worst customer service episodes I have ever experienced.

#1 Get the quote in writing–through a very sloppy and (now I’m thinking intentionally) confusing explanation of the repair cost, I totally misunderstood the quote (I thought it was about $60 and it turned out to be double!), and for a scant $100 might have just bought a new sewing machine. They also charged me for parts that they “replaced” — which actually constituted reinstalling MY existing parts.

#2 Always thoroughly check your product’s condition before leaving the store. This is so much of a “DUH” that I am embarrassed, but just have to say it.

#3 Go ahead and try to solve your own problems, e.g. fix things yourself, look up techniques, google it, and don’t let anyone make fun of you for trying (yes, they mocked me for removing the bobbin housing myself! — something I had SUCCESSFULLY done before to remove a thread jam) So with a great deal of mental swearing and trying not to cry my tears of rage, I removed and reattached the damn thread guide and outer casing. And it works! EFF YOU, STEVE!!!

#4 Don’t smile and put up with people talking down to you, mocking you or acting like you’re an idiot for needing a basic repair and tune-up. This is where my nice-girl attitude and lack of assertiveness bit me in the butt so hard, I’m gonna need a rabies shot. Take the business ELSEWHERE.

Whew, back to normal…

my usual charming self?


Summer Lovin’….err, Stitchin’!

The summer grew wings after we got home from vacation, and I have been busy with fibrous experiments, both wearable and edible…

Project #1, simple sundress, modded from Heather Ross’s Mendocino Sundress pattern available for free here. I used Heather’s instructions and watched the demonstration on Martha Stewart a couple of times to catch all the tips on using elastic thread for the smocking. It is fairly easy, and I only had to take out my bobbin chamber once to get a nasty bit of stretchy thread out ;o), I think the most important thing to know is that you mustn’t stretch the elastic thread as you wind it onto the bobbin by hand. Ready for my big confession? I didn’t go to Kinko’s to have the pattern blown up and printed, as is suggested in the pattern instructions. I just looked at the dress shape in its PDF file and gave it my best shot, free-hand (avec ruler/yardstick/tape measure). I knew I wanted it about knee-length anyway, so I didn’t want to pay for paper I wouldn’t even use. Confession #2: I skipped the pocket. I love pockets as much as the next reluctant, purse-bound female, so I thought about it, but decided not to mess with it on my first sewing rodeo. Enough groveling, here are the pics.

dressy dress dress

simple sundress


I actually love it! The fabric is a cotton from the $1 shelf at Wal-Mart in 2007 when my husband, then fiancé, bought me my sewing machine and some fabric to play with. It is very light and airy, and was an incredibly gratifying project!

Project #2, the one-yard skirt tutorial from grosgrain’s lovely and inspiring blog, found here. I am an extreme novice sewer, so having a skirt in only 20 minutes is not something I am concerned with. In fact, I’m certain that if I were to make a skirt in 20 minutes, it would involve duct tape or rubber bands, possibly both. But this skirt seemed awfully cute and thrifty at only 1 yard, so I was game! Note: there is a casual mention toward the end of the tutorial that this skirt is best for a size 2 – 8 and since I do not yet fall into that category, I found that the full width of the skirt did much more to make me look like a pot-bellied bear in a dirndl than look as cute as the sample pics, but I was undeterred! I just pinned it where it looked okay and chopped off the rest of the bulk! And it worked great! I have an elastic-band, semi-straight skirt that I wore to the grad student picnic the following evening [no one asked if it was ‘home-made’…SUCCESS!]. So the moral of the story is for those above size 8, try it, but don’t be afraid to change it a bit. Three cheers for Grosgrain!

less-than-a-yard skirt!

Project #3, Remodel Thy Pants! From a hodge-podge of tutorials found in a google search, this handy toot emerged as a winner. This was a lot of fun. I chose a pair of aging, Old Navy work pants that I once wore for waitressing, and after an afternoon of carefree laundering [“just throw it in there!”] turned into high-waters. No longer! I love this clever little trick, and my favorite shorty-short tweed slacks are soon to follow.

highwaters no more!

closer detail of the piecework:

quick and dirty approach to seams

Project #4, Slapdash Skirt, started out as the basic straight skirt from Sew What! Skirts by Francesca Denhartog & Carole Ann Camp, but I soon discovered that after I attached my side zip and pinned the skirt around my [most ample] hips, it was the furthest thing from flattering that you or I could imagine. This is no fault of the book…I’m sure I went wrong somewhere in the pattern-drafting stage. In any case, I applied the pants-theory [Remodel Thy Skirt!] and stitched in triangles of fabric on the sides to kinda, sorta form an a-line. I’ve been wearing it a lot, so I think it worked!

a line


On to the knitting!

When we visited Nashville, my mom took me to a proverbial palace of yarns and treated me to 5 skeins of Aslan Trends Artesanal in the lagoon colorway. I love this yarn–it’s the slightest bit wabi-sabi considering the long alpaca hairs that protrude from the knitting and the many and varied bits of straw rustically spun into the fibers.

This sweater is called Plume and features a gentle cowl and belled sleeves, both knit in brioche stitch. The construction is top-down, raglan with a K1, P2 ribbing at the lower body edge. The cowl is tacked down with mattress stitch to keep it from undulating in the autumn breezes, and I’m very pleased with it, in terms of fit and style. I made the scoop neck a touch low [math has never been my strong suit], and now have to find a little camisole that will work for unders.

hurry up, Fall!

mapping the sleeve

And finally, the edible fiber comes in the shape of the granola recipe I tried today. I avoid buying granola at the store because it’s expensive and overly sugary, but in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, which I love, I discovered this delightful stuff…


It’s delicious and smells so good baking. And couldn’t be easier, my version is…6 cups of oats, 1/2 cup of honey, 1/2 cup of sliced almonds, dash salt, 2 tsp cinnamon and 1 cup raisins, stir up and bake all minus the raisins for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees (stir a few times so it all gets a chance to crisp), then cool on a rack and stir in the raisins. Once it reaches room temperature, you’re ready to eat! In fact, I think it’s time for some right now ❤