Friday, May 18

Kathrine's Patterns

Today is one of those "dog wash" days, a day to putter around and not do anything too challenging. However, I also want to cross some things off my Project List. My sister-in-law had given me a folder full knitting and crochet patterns that had belonged to my mother-in-law. She passed a couple of years ago, so I wanted to keep them as a way to honor her. Most of the patterns were photo copies, so I got an empty binder and my page protectors and worked my way through the stack.

There were lots of patterns for afghans and  ponchos and novelty items, like Christmas decorations. There were some patterns written out on scrap paper—the back of a letter or greeting card—that didn't say what they were for.  I even found two patterns for Christmas tree shapes cut out of old paper shopping bags. Kathrine was green! I put all of the page protectors in the binder, with a couple of booklets in the binder pocket. I cut a label from vinyl using my Silhouette. I'm happy to check this off my list and to have honored Kathrine with something pretty.

Tuesday, May 15

Always Sew with a Relaxed Bottom

"Always sew with a relaxed bottom" is about sewing a seam where one piece of fabric is "eased" to another, such as setting in a sleeve. When setting in a sleeve, the armhole piece is in control. It has the tension, the structure. The sleeve side of the seam feels loose by comparison. It must be eased to fit. If you try to force the ease by placing the sleeve on top so you can micromanage with a lot of pins, you might get a smooth seam, but not without a lot of tension (yours, not the thread). But if you flip it over and use fewer pins, the action of the sewing machine will do the work and you'll get a smooth seam with a lot less tension. The relaxed part—the sleeve—goes on the bottom.

Here's how I think that funny saying about sewing might apply to the rest of my life:
Control goes on top. You need to have some level of control when you are in charge. Committee leaders and teachers provide structure to enable creativity and productivity. Moms structure life for their children to give balance and security. Order gives us confidence to perform.
Make room for ease. This is the hard part. We work so hard to do our best that we begin to think that our best is the best—the only way. We try to help by suggesting, rather strongly, that things be done our way. However, ease opens doors to creativity and peace. Ease gives encouragement. Ease makes room for others. Allow for ease, let it work its way into the garment. Life isn't seamless. But the seams will be smoother with less tension.
I'm going to practice being more grateful for the things that people do instead of fussing that they didn't do it my way. I might learn something!  How will you practice putting more ease in your life?  I'd love to read your comments!

Saturday, May 12

DIY Rocker Refinish

This chair needs love! | Family heirloom

Can this chair have new life?

Grandpa's Chair

I love the story of this chair. It belonged to my husband's grandfather. When he became unable to live alone, he stayed with his children. The plan was that he would stay with one for a while, then another. But you know what they say: Make plans and God laughs!
After staying with my husband's family for a term, he then went to stay with a daughter. The very next day, they brought him back! I can just imagine what my mother-in-law might have been thinking. I know what I would have been thinking!
His beloved rocking chair was tied to the vehicle carelessly (Were they in that much of a hurry to ship the poor man out?), so that it was too close to the exhaust pipe. That's why the upper corner of the back is burned.  For sure, I want some of that mark to stay—it's the stories that give value to family heirlooms.

This chair rocks! | Family heirloom refinished and recoveredRefinish and Recover

I used Formby's Build-up Remover on the right side of the chair (the right side of the picture above) before I took the picture. You can't really see a strong difference, but it did clean off a lot of gunk. Still, there is dark staining on the chair back.
I am so happy with how this chair turned out. I finished using the build-up remover on the whole chair, having removed the seat cushion. Then I sanded the whole thing. (I know, the build-up remover was pointless.) I finished with a couple of coats of varnish.  It's clean and shiny, but still has that burn mark.
The seat got new foam padding and was covered with home dec fabric I had picked up at JoAnn's—staple gun upholstery, is there any other kind? I'm happy with the way this turned out: pretty, but not too girly.

I wonder if grandpa would like it.