What’s your why?

What motivates you? Why do you do the things you do?  If you drill down deep enough, you’ll eventually uncover your true why.  It may/may not be pretty, but at least be honest with yourself, so you can do what needs to be done to move in the direction you really want to go.

My school handed out copies of Simon Sinek’s book, “Start with Why” as our welcome back to school gift. Then, we were told that we are expected to recite the “why” for everything we do in relation to our jobs this year.

So here goes:

Why is my day job that of a librarian? I love libraries. They were my safe place growing up. I’m a voracious reader, tinkerer, maker and want to know all the things. I like to share information/resources with others.  I feel most at home behind a reference desk or sharing a great story for a read aloud. Although I’ve worked in a public library, school libraries allow me to do the same thing, but on M-F schedule that better suits my family.

Why am I still at my current school?  1. Relationships with coworkers and students. 2a. Administration finally listened and pulled the library out of the specials rotation. 2b. Now the opportunity is there to truly makeover the library, possibly leading toward state recognition as an Exemplary Library Media Program. 3. It’s close to home, which is important because Atlanta traffic can be a nightmare. 4. I’m not ashamed to say there is a financial incentive for staying with my current school district – we’re set to receive a really nice raise which will help with retirement and potentially afford me the option to retire three years sooner.

Why do I have a sewing business? 1. I love to teach sewing to newbies. Kids are a lot of fun, but much more work is involved than with teaching teens/adults. 2. I am a technical editor for sewing/quilting designers because I am tired of spending money on patterns full of mistakes. It’s also a good ROI for time spent. I deliberately keep my hourly rates on the affordable side and work efficiently so my clients get value for their hard earned money. 3.  It serves as an outlet to sell my samples, voluminous stash and other vintage treasures. The thrill of making a sale is very real (kind of like when a reluctant reader  adamant about getting a Wimpy Kid book actually checks out the other book you recommended) 4. It provides a way to indulge my inner entrepreneurial streak while making a few extra bucks. 5. I’m building something that will continue after I leave public education. 6. As the business evolves, I’m finding more ways to tie quilting/sewing with library work (Atlanta Quilt Study Symposium in late September).

These were the relatively easy “whys” that I feel comfortable sharing in public. Some of the whys in the more personal areas of my life are definitely messier and took some effort to unpack. However, this exercise does inform what needs to be done to move me toward the place where my actions are more congruent with my beliefs in all areas of my life.

Again, what’s your why?

Ready to rejoin this thing called LIFE

When the doctor told me to take the summer off, I did exactly that – no work, no side hustle, no summer sewing camps, no therapy dog visits – no nothing except travel, play with the dog and attend to some summer household chores. While bathing the dog this afternoon, I actually wished we had a CHOA visit scheduled for tomorrow.  My itch to stitch has also returned. I’ve been in my sewing room this evening trying out a darning foot on Crystal. She’s been overly fussy, so she’s going in timeout while I pull out Juliette.  Yep, after nearly 2-1/2 months, I’d say I’m ready to rejoin this thing called LIFE.

The first 3 days of teacher preplanning have been exciting. A new school year always brings the usual can of crazy, but not having to perform the first day of school at 8:00 a.m. (for specials classes) has removed much of the stress I encountered the past two school years. I’ve been able to actually do librarian stuff, which I have sorely missed. The teachers are so excited and some have already reached out to collaborate on lessons. My new parapro has come around to her new work assignment. I think I have figured out a way to divvy up the necessary tasks to make everyone happy!

So glad I already re-homed several sewing machines we used in sewing club.  Looks like sewing club will not be a reality this year.  A bit of a bummer, but it’s time to move in a different direction. This means I am going to re-home/dispose of at least 2 more sewing machines.  My goal is to have only 2 sewing machines (1 grant funded and one loaned) at school for Maker Space activities and uniform repairs.

Now back to experimenting with the new darning foot on Juliette!

Have a great week!


Here we go (again)!

Tonight marks the last night of summer vacation.  Bittersweet, as the summer flew by.

Tomorrow, teacher preplanning week begins (yet again) for another school year.  This year I actually get to flaunt my librarian hat. I’ll proudly wear my ILA Literacy t-shirt knowing that I WILL be able to put into motion the ideas I was unable to implement last year. I haven’t been this excited to start a new school year for some time!  It’s so nice.

I’m also slowly easing my way back into the sewing side of things. Purchased a Cricut Maker for the Maker Space at school (and home). I’ll be experimenting with a couple of smaller projects over the next few days before I try my hand at baby quilt.  🙂

Clothes are laid out, laptop tote and purse are by door. All I have to do is make lunch.

Now, to try and make this night owl get to bed before midnight!

Golden (Tumeric) Milk Recipe

This is my go-to version. Tumeric and cinnamon are reported to have anti-inflammatory properties.  These days, I’m all about reducing inflammation. Eczema-like flares on my arms and torso have been a constant since taking all those meds back in May for Bell’s Palsy.  Once the itching starts, it’s almost impossible to stop it without a Benadryl.  I cut my beloved Diet Coke completely out over a week ago. Definite improvement, but the dry-out stage for the dermatitis involves lots of scaling and that is REALLY itchy.

Recipe yields enough to fill a regular coffee mug.

1 c. milk of your choice (I use regular 2% milk, but use nondairy milk, if desired)
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
pinch of black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 tbsp maple syrup

Mix all ingredients in 1 quart saucepan.  Bring to a slow boil on medium heat.  Turn down lowest heat setting and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Pour into mug and enjoy.

It never hurts to ask…

Last fall, I mentioned that I needed to be more like my students and be absolutely fearless in asking for what I really want. 

Like many creative biz owners, I work a full-time job in addition to my creative business pursuits. That day job directly impacts the side hustle. (I’m a teacher at an inner city school.) The past school year was beyond challenging. Stress was definitely a contributing factor to the Bell’s Palsy I suffered in mid-May.  Thankfully, now two months later, I am almost completely healed.

I asked for what I really wanted (repeatedly). A lot of coworkers lobbied on my behalf and several others sent up prayers.

W-E-L-L the unthinkable actually happened! I get to be a full-time librarian (not function as a special areas teacher) for the upcoming school year!  THRILLED is putting it mildly.

The only downside is that my long-time parapro was reassigned to a new position (an excellent opportunity for her to grow) and I’ll be sharing a parapro with another department.  My new library helper is the same wonderful lady who helped with sewing club the past 4 years. She’s never worked in a library, but she hadn’t operated a sewing machine before clubs either!  She can definitely learn!

Happiness in the day job is bound to translate into more time available for the side hustle. I picked up lots of vintage Singer Featherweight and Elna accessories during my thrift shop/flea market jaunts over the summer. Items will be available as of 8/1.

Stay tuned.

Caught up in the moment

At the Featherweight Retreat, I got to see ALL kinds of Featherweight machines, accessories, gadgets, doo-dads, modifications – you name it. It was also a wonderful educational experience for me.  I learned what the avid collectors truly prize: the freearm Singer 222K, “Penguin” walking foot and Swiss-made Singer zig zag attachment.  The Penguin foot is considered the holy grail by many FW collectors due to rarity, but don’t discount the cuteness factor either.

Last week, I received a text message from one of the retreat attendees asking if I was interested in a Penguin walking foot. Of course I replied, “Yes!”.  The price was reasonable, considering what some had recently sold for.  Honestly, had she been set up to accept an electronic payment, I’d probably be holding said Penguin foot in my hot little hands right now.  I was definitely caught up in the moment. Being forced to press “pause” to figure out the payment logistics made me stop and listen to my inner voice that was shouting, “Not now.”

I love vintage machines and actually sew on mine. From a practical standpoint, a 222K would make more sense for me than a Penguin foot or zigzag attachment. The reality is that Penguin foot costs more than both of my Featherweights combined. I just couldn’t justify spending that kind of money on a presser foot – no matter how collectible it might be. Put a few more dollars with it and I could have a 222K – which would be very cool, and practical, for the way I sew.

That’s not to say that I haven’t bought some new accessories for my beloved Featherweights.  I safely tuck away original cases and any accessories that I don’t use on a regular basis. Thanks to a lucky score at an antique mall, both FWs now sport a complete set of original feet and accessories.  Juliette got a new roomier reproduction carry case while Crystal received a foot pedal adapter.  Rather than dispose of Juliette’s old reproduction case, I decided to try my hand at refinishing it.  It’s been stripped, sanded and is now in the process of being painted a vintage teal color. The case will be lined with fabric and new chrome hardware attached that looks very similar to the original green/white case.  Stripping off the old vinyl/fabric covering was a nasty process and something in the fabric, glue or wood caused a major itchy rash to break out on my arms. Fortunately, I’m on the mend and looking less “reactive” with each passing day.  I’ll post a picture of Crystal’s one-of-a-kind case when it’s finished.  Psst: Cost of case rehab materials/hardware was about $22….but when you factor in the time…it would probably been have more cost effective to buy two new cases! 🙂

Copyright and Teaching Sewing Classes

Simply stated:
Whether you teach using a single pattern, magazine article or from a book, each student should have his/her own legitimate copy.  It is generally NOT okay to buy one copy of a pattern, magazine or book and then make copies to distribute to your students.

But patterns and books cost so much!!! Believe me, cost is a HUGE factor in deciding which projects to do with my kids.

As a librarian at the day job, it’s my responsibility to explain copyright and fair use to my staff. I’m certainly not an intellectual property attorney; however, I do my best to model ethical copyright behavior in both the day job and when teaching sewing classes.  Here are some tips to help keep things copyright compliant while keeping costs down:

  1. If you absolutely love the pattern, teach from it and have your students buy the pattern for that class!  See if you can get the pattern at a discount.
  2. Fabric and craft companies (plus designers) post numerous free projects online.  Use those!  Work with the shop to kit the projects. If necessary, have students print out their own copies of the free pattern and bring to class.
  3. For books, students can often borrow from a library or find them much cheaper at a used bookstore/online vendor.
  4. Buy basic commercial patterns (pajama bottoms, skirt, aprons, etc.) that you’ll actually use in classes when they are on sale for $1-2 each at the big box retailer. I buy 4-5 copies of a single pattern at a time.  Each kid takes home the pattern they used in class and the cost is built into the class fee. This is a convenience for my students and helps keep things copyright compliant.
  5. Design your own patterns! Inspired by something you saw but can’t find a pattern that you can use?  Pinterest and YouTube are your friends.  I’ll bet you can come up with something!  Keep projects simple and let the kids add their own creative flourishes.  Pillowcases, tote bags, zippered pouches, drawstring bags, tablet covers, mug cozies and potholders can only be made so many ways.

When planning projects for classes, I survey my students to see what they’d like to make. If it’s a garment, see #4.  If not, I meet with the shop owner to see if there are any patterns currently in stock that they’d like me to use.  If not, I’ll go to option #2 & then #5. Honestly, I usually develop my own patterns and instruction sheets for the Kid’s Club projects.  Most project patterns are written for adults – not children.  Occasionally, the quilt shop calls because a customer wants to buy my project instruction sheets. I’ve since spiffed up the format and now sell them when asked.

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