Older sewing machines are worth rescuing!

“I’m at the warehouse,” read the text message from my coworker.

She was at our school district’s behemoth warehouse looking for tables. In a flash, I receive photos of several sewing machines that she’d discovered. One of the high schools had disbanded its interior design program (aka home economics) when the supervising teacher retired. Several of the machines had been sent to the warehouse as surplus.

“Tag the Janome and the blue Brother,” I replied.

Both machines arrived at school a few days later. They were in sad shape. The Brother was immediately pronounced DOA as it was seized up.  The Janome, on the other hand, was a different story. While filthy and obviously neglected, I was still able to make decent stitches by simply advancing the hand wheel. I immediately ordered a replacement foot pedal/power supply, extension table and thread guide.

With the new parts, the machine sewed well enough to be used during Friday clubs. Clubs are now a thing of the past, so the question became, “What to do with this one?” I decided to keep her. I spent time servicing and cleaning her up today. What a difference! I could not believe all the crud that was under the bobbin area – broken needles, extreme lint and thread wrapped around the gears.

My FW maintenance class served me well. I have confidence in my ability to service my own machines and most of the tools already on hand to fix minor problems I encounter during a service. Is the service perfect? Oh definitely not!  However, said machine now sews beautiful stitches with very little noise. Besides, I can always take the machine to the mechanic  if it’s beyond my abilities.

Bless you, Emergency Vets

Since so many of us have four-legged quality assurance supervisors in our sewing studios, thought I’d share this post.

In the 25 years I’ve owned dogs, I’ve never ever needed to use emergency vet services…until a week ago!

It’s very much like taking your human family members to the emergency room. Something was suddenly terribly wrong with Boomer, but I didn’t know what. I was worried about my dog and how much it was going to cost.

ER vet services are not cheap. Plan on about $500/day for care plus any tests, treatments and surgery your dog may need. 

Boomer came home very weak after five days in hospital, but glad to be home.  He was diagnosed with thrombocytopenia, an auto-immune disease that caused his body to suddenly start attacking his platelets (those things that cause your blood to clot). He was bleeding internally. I’m very thankful our primary care vet told me what to look for and to head to the ER vet ASAP if I noticed certain symptoms over the weekend.

My boy looks like he’s been in a fight. However, he’s slowing perking up and here’s hoping his follow-up visit tomorrow has his platelet counts continuing to move in the right direction. I want him around and enjoying life for as long as he can!

And the word for 2020 is…

Empower:  “to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.”

As in empowering myself to step outside my comfort zone and step up to claim opportunities for myself in all areas of my life. 

Something as simple as asking for a different table for dinner on New Year’s Eve (we got a prime window seat!)

Pushing the claims adjuster to get the claim resolved fairly and quickly.

Returning an item that did not meet expectations.

Holding up the line an extra 60 seconds to get the 50% discount on the expensive item that the cashier missed (even though the customer behind me was complaining loudly).

Having that difficult, long overdue conversation with a coworker because I’m tired of her crap.

**Setting boundaries and learning to say “no” without feeling guilty.

**Putting myself out there to generate more teaching and tech editing opportunities for my biz (a/k/a marketing).

These (**) are the two biggies. My other two potential words of the year were “intentional” and “discipline.” I’m going to need both of those to help “empower” myself to accomplish these two items.

Bye-Bye 2019

Don’t know about you, but I’m more than ready to put 2019 behind me!!  This year will go down as the first year everyone in the family met the deductible and out-of-pocket maximums under our health insurance policy.  Yes, we had some serious stuff going on.  Our new normal means we now must budget $6,000 annually to cover our portion of the costs associated with hubby’s follow-up care at MD Anderson in Houston.

There were a few bright spots this year – my FW retreat in Idaho, summer travel with my parents to Canada, ESOL endorsement requirements met and a shift at the day job back to full-time librarian.

2020 will be the year for my biz to BLOOM. 

Starting in January, I’ll be teaching both adult and kid’s sewing classes at Stitch N Quilt. Kid’s Club projects have already been selected for January – June. Garment Sewing 101 and T-Shirt Quilt 101 classes will be on the books very soon.

Technical Editing
Tech-editing services will be marketed more aggressively. (No more being afraid to raise my hand and say that I provide this service to pattern designers.)

Etsy Shop will be re-opened to sell surplus notions and fabric, plus a few seasonal items whenever my Maker urge strikes.

Turkey placemat pattern (based on grandma’s vintage ones from the 1970’s) will finally get to market this year.

There are other ideas swirling around in my head…but this is a good start for a Tremendous Twenty-Twenty!




Merry Christmas 2019

Technical Editing – My Process

Curious as to how a tech editor fits into the pattern design process?

Note:  I normally receive a copy for editing once it is in the testing phase.

  • I print the pattern and tape it together as instructed.
  • I read through the directions to check the instructional flow & sequence.  (Does it make sense? Is there another technique that would work better? Does the designer need to add/delete certain things to make the instructions clear? Should the construction sequence be modified?)
  • I compare listed cut pieces with any diagrams and again for inclusion in the sewing instructions.
  • I check captions and labeling on diagrams.
  • I check to see that photos and illustrations are in the correct places (or that there’s no placeholder awaiting a final photo/illustration).
  • I check math calculations, including yardage requirements, cut dimensions and overall project size.
  • I edit for grammar, clarity and consistency in writing style.
  • Sometimes, I have to make a block. This is usually when I suspect a math/instructional error that I can’t pinpoint by simply reviewing it on paper.
  • I set the edited pattern aside for a day or two.
  • I markup the pdf copy in Adobe, confirm I transferred the edits from my paper copy to the electronic one and then send the marked up electronic file back to the designer.

Total time? 2-3 hours.  (Psst: I’ve also reviewed your pattern at least twice.)

Lead time:  2 weeks

All of my clients are repeat clients, if this gives any indication regarding the quality of my work.

The first quarter 2020 is starting to fill up, so if you need tech editing services early next year, please get on my schedule NOW.


Can one have too much sewing stuff?

It’s possible!

Since we no longer do clubs at school, I re-homed three sewing machines and gifted fabric & notions to co-workers. The remainder of the fabric & notions came home and were promptly shoved in a closet until I had time to deal with it later.  This was mid-September. 

I was avoiding my studio. Time to take action.

“Later” became yesterday and today.  I needed something from the closet…and it kind of morphed into an organizing marathon. I spent several hours consolidating, sorting and refining my fabric/notions stash.  Two big bins of fabric are in my SUV ready to be dispersed at school tomorrow.  All of the “kid sewing” materials are in a single location. All the precuts are grouped together and in one designated spot.  You can actually see the floor of the hall closet now!  I purged the last of the “gifted” fabric and stuff I’d brought with me to this house 6-1/2 years ago.  The trash bin is full.

All of the PIGS (projects in grocery sacks) that I plan to complete are in bins ready to go.  Can you believe I had 8 tote bags full of STUFF?  This was almost as bad as when I cleaned up my sewing room after I finished graduate school and found 7 rotary cutters!!! All of the kits I purchased on previous vacations are now where I can easily view them when I open my closet door. Excess office supplies are going to school.

While I feel as if a big weight has been lifted, there’s still much work to do. Blame it on my new-found minimalist tendencies. Unless I’m going to use the item,  it adds value to sewing or it brings me joy – out it goes. Downsizing the stash will be an ongoing process – one drawer, one bin and one shelf at a time. Put it this way, I will not be purchasing any fabric, notions or quilting magazines during the first half of 2020!




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