Category Archives: This and that


There was a terrible accident at my house last night but I am happy to report that we are all okay. Bryan and I were watching the halftime show on the couch last night. When it was over he went outside to light the grill. Seconds later, there was a huge explosion that ripped open the locked wall of French doors in the living room and in the pool room and I saw him fly into the pool. Naturally, my first thought was that he was dead. I cannot tell you how relieved I was when he surfaced – all in one piece.

I immediately called 911 because I didn’t know if there was any fire inside that end of the house or the risk of another explosion. I have to commend the Plantation Police and Fire Departments (which is largely volunteer) who responded in minutes and were very helpful, reassuring and extremely professional.

So, what happened? It was determined that there was a leak in the gas line from the grill. Over time, gas seeped into the concrete block of my house and formed a pocket. When Bryan pressed the ignition, he said he felt something wasn’t right and then there was a big flame and he turned his head and headed towards the pool (thank God!). The blast blew everything to smithereens, leaving me with a big hole in my house. My neighbors said their windows shook and my best friend, who lives about 2 miles away across the parkway, heard it at her house.

I cannot express how lucky we feel and how thankful we are that no one was hurt. I can’t stop thinking about how tragic this could have been. Had Bryan not reacted so quickly…well, I don’t want to think about that anymore. The angels were on our side and he walked away with minor burns and cuts.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that I’ll be taking a bit of a break here. I have decided to act as my own GC so I’ll be pretty busy with that for awhile. Of course, I’ll try to squeeze sewing in whenever I can – I’ll need it for the stress relief. 🙂 Keep on sewing, I’ll be reading your blogs even though I won’t always have time to comment.

And we have photos! As much as I love my house, it is just that: a house. It’s easy to make a house whole again – not always possible with a person. Be safe everyone and, for heaven’s sake, don’t have a grill/bar built onto your house!

My formerly beautiful cedar closet – this was the purse wall. I haven’t even started going through that mess.



This picture cracks me up. Everything’s been blown to bits and the orchid is still standing. Check out those thick concrete walls. That’s what a good hurricane house looks like. 🙂

All of my patio doors bent out of shape from the blast. I guess they really are hurricane-proof!


The rubble. The wooden shelves are from the closet.


It’s way too cold to dive in and retrieve this mess.


I have to say, seeing the Chanel shopping bag on the pile made me laugh. Chanel endures!




Filed under This and that

Making space

Pretty soon I’ll be adding two more machines to my herd: a Singer 143W (with which I’ll be able to zigzag on leather using 138 thread!) and a Singer 112W (double-needle, needle-feed machine for leather). If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you know space is getting pretty tight in the second sewing room! I already measured and discovered that my two file cabinets (where I store extra patterns) will fit into the walk-in closet of my exercise room so that’ll leave room for one new machine. Then, when I was unpacking my boots (which are stored in Jess’ old closet) I got the idea to move my little Merrow into the left side of closet. I cut the table down years ago so it’s small and there’s an outlet and light in the closet. The Merrow only does a perle edge so it’s one of those machines I’ll use every few months for 20 minutes or so and that’s it. I think she looks rather at home, don’t you?


And now I have space for a 2nd machine next to the window in the sewing room. I’m happy.



Filed under Sewing Machines, This and that

Dyeing MOP Buttons

When I wanted to try dyeing MOP buttons for my silk blouse the first person I called was my friend Sharon. Sharon is very experienced with dyes and paints and dyed a bunch of plastic buttons a couple of years ago – yes, you can dye some plastic buttons too! She recommended I use Rit dye and experiment first with one button to check the color and time.

I used one cup of water with four capfuls of liquid dye in a small Corningware dish. I prefer to use a glass dish because it’s non-reactive. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Thread the button(s) on a string (I used some topstitching thread) and put into the mixture. I looped the thread around one of the dish’s handles so it wouldn’t completely fall into the liquid. I checked my button every 5 minutes. After 20 minutes I realized that this was going to take a very long time! But, by then I could already see that the color was going to work, I just needed to simmer it for a long time to get the saturation I wanted. I strung up the rest of my buttons (make sure you dye a few spares!) and simmered them for three hours. I turned off the stove and left them overnight when I went to bed.

The next morning, I decided to try to get them a bit darker so I started with a fresh batch of undiluted dye. After a couple of hours they finally looked good to me so I rinsed and hung them to dry. I can’t imagine that they will fade but we’ll see. Due to all of the gathers on my blouse I will probably dry clean it so I’ll let you all know how they hold up to those chemicals. Hopefully, they’ll be fine because I have a ton of men’s MOP shirt buttons and plans to make a few more silk blouses.

Because MOP buttons require such a long cooking time, I really recommend you use a dish with a lid. Not only does this prevent all of your liquid from evaporating, it also prevents the dye from getting into the air. It’s not just a little stinky, it can’t be too good to breathe in either. If you are going to be standing over the pot a lot I’d recommend a mask of some sort too. Most of my dying consists of quick jobs like lingerie elastic (which dyes in mere minutes) so it’s not been a problem before. I just wanted to mention it to you so that you can be prepared.

PS: Don’t forget that anything you use for dyeing should never be used for food again. I’m you already knew that but it bears repeating.


Filed under This and that, Tutorials

The Week in Review

I really didn’t accomplish much, this being a short week and all. I had some time to sew on Wednesday and spent it mending my paisley peasant blouse, grrrrr. When I was finished, I spent time planning my next projects. Thursday I met Jess for drinks, Friday I went to Bryan’s football game and then I worked yesterday so boohoo no sewing time until later today (after I vacuum and mop!).

About the mending: whenever I make something new I like to try it on with various other items in my wardrobe just to see what works with what. I was wearing a black bra and noticed a black spot on the front of my blouse. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that there was a small hole in the fabric! I always look for flaws when I’m pressing my yardage but, somehow, missed this! I was really upset but, since I had nothing to lose, I thought I’d try to fix it. Because this fabric is really drapey and the pattern is busy I decided that making a small fisheye dart over the hole would be the best solution.

I sewed out from the center, tapering to nothing at each end with very small stitches. I didn’t backtack but instead sewed right off the edge of the fabric. I then dotted a little Fraycheck directly on the hole.


After pressing, the mend isn’t noticeable at all! I marked the ends of the little dart with pins so you could see.


Granted, I still know it’s there (and I’m not at all happy about that) but I wore it yesterday and had a hard time finding the mend so I’ll continue to wear it as long as it lasts. I also decided to add some ties to the sleeves.


We stayed in last night because my honey didn’t feel well. While he watched football I cut out a hot pink silk blouse. I’ve had this silk for over 15 years. I purchased it when, sniff, the old Cloth World on State Road 7 closed. Oh, the many happy hours I spent there in high school fondling fabric and looking through pattern books! I knew I had some hot pink MOP buttons in my collection but I didn’t have enough – and no way to ‘make it work’. I am totally disgusted with JoAnn’s button selection. I refuse to put a plastic button on a silk blouse so I’m going to try dyeing some to match. If that doesn’t work out I’ll order some from MJ Trimmings. I have hundreds of natural MOP shirt buttons so I’ll experiment with that this week. I meant to pick up a bottle of RIT when I was at Publix but it was such a madhouse that I forgot.


I also pressed my beautiful cotton that I bought from Ann a couple of months ago. I found the perfect pattern for it which I’ll hopefully fit this afternoon.


I bought some industrial velvet feet since I didn’t have a set. You can’t really see in the photos but they have a V bottom so as not to mar the fabric. I’m most interested in them for ditch stitching since I haven’t really found the perfect foot for that.



And, I ended up wearing my white dotted Swiss blouse to the football game on Friday and received soooo many compliments. I like it more every time I wear it!


Filed under Attachments, Fabric, This and that

The Things We Forget to Sew

I had a major panic as I was packing my suitcase last week: No Swimsuit Coverup. Eek! I had intended to make one. Really, I had. Along with a colorful pillow case for my travelling down pillow (which I left at a hotel – again). I just can’t walk around the hotel in a swimsuit. I just feel so… Luckily, my closet produced a never-worn Betsey Johnson tunic/mini-dress thing that would work. I think I found it cheap someplace and intended to shorten it into a top (which, naturally, never happened) so at least I was saved this time…

Then, today, I had the most wonderful lunch with Phyllis before her return to Massachusetts tomorrow. Of course, we talked sewing! And more sewing! I told her about the fabulous vintage beach coverup pattern I’d missed on Etsy. It reminded me so much of the coverup Lucy wore when the Ricardos and the Mertzes were in California. The one with the giant “LR” monogram on it. I’d been distracted that day and it disappeared forever.

Sometimes, I can be like a Terrier with these things so I immediately came home this afternoon and started searching Etsy and Ebay. I didn’t find The Pattern – or anything remotely similar – but I did find this:


And I like it a lot! This will be so pretty in a nice gauzy cotton or crinkled silk; something really light for the hottest days of the year. I’ll look so chic in my giant Panama hat and movie-star sunglasses! Phyllis, I promise I will wear some pretty flats and not high-heeled mules and a cigarette holder (although that does sound pretty glam…)!


Filed under This and that, Vintage Patterns

Light Table

This is – or used to be – a sign that hung in my friend’s shop window advertising a brand of machine that he sells. He said this one hummed when it was on and so he was sent a replacement. He mentioned that these signs make great light tables once the cellophane is removed and asked if I wanted it. I didn’t hesitate! I have always wanted a light table but they are expensive and I wasn’t willing to spend a lot on something I need so rarely. I can’t even imagine what you’d pay for one this size – it’s 24″ square. UPDATE: A light table like this one in an 18″ x 24″ size is $399 at Dick Blick – yikes!


Yes, it does hum after it’s been on for a few minutes but I can live with that – or I can just replace the ballast.

I’m off to get my nails done and then I’ll be chaining myself to my sewing machine for the rest of the day! My honey says I have a break in my sprinkler line under the black olive tree out back. He is going to come over and take care of that for me but promises he will not interrupt my sewing or ask for tuna melts. 🙂 He’s so sweet – I’ll just make the tuna ahead of time.

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Filed under This and that

Yep, I’m still here!

The last couple of weeks have been very busy so I just haven’t had the energy to write – or even do much to write about!

The green silk tunic is nearly done. I’m looking for some beads so that I can bead the edges to give the crinkled silk some weight.

I also finished the Layer Cake Quilt – photos of that later. Today I cut out all of the pieces for a large Drunkard’s Path quilt. It will be made entirely out of batik fabrics, 20 prints in all. Interestingly, the instructions (and every quilter and website out there) say to stitch with the convex piece on top. Hmm, as a garment sewer that makes no sense to me whatsoever! When I sew a Princess seam I always stitch with the concave section on top and curve it around the side panel. This is a real piece of cake when you’re working with a 1/4″ seam allowance! Am I missing something? There is even a foot marketed to quilters to help stitch these curved seams. I don’t get it so I will just sew the blocks my way – no pins, no marking.




Parting shots:

Easter Lunch:

My Honey says I make the best Tuna sandwich on the planet. Embarassingly, he tells everyone that and says I should market my recipe. He’s so silly because it’s really nothing special. I start with Bumble Bee Prime Fillet (solid Albacore) and add 1/2 Tbsn of real mayo (none of that reduced or low-fat stuff), 1 Tbsn of real sour cream and 2 tspns of Guldens or Publix brown mustard. That’s it – as I said, no big deal but he raves about it. Bryan likes it melted with cheese, I prefer mine with tomato wedges instead of bread. I like the fact that it’s lighter and more tangy than the traditional all-mayo version.


The Oncidiums are blooming! OMG, I am so excited about this! My friend Mary’s husband Chris (Orchid Grower Extraordinaire!) gave me a few Oncidium plants about 10 years ago. While his spoil him with literally thousands of little Dancing Ladies, mine never bloomed. Ever. Not one single flower! Well, I had a really tough day on Thursday and it did my heart good to come home to this:


And this is just one of two flower stalks!

I also have more Phals blooming!




Filed under misc., Quilting, This and that