Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Let It Sew, Let It Sew, Let It Sew

Let It Sew, Let It Sew, Let It Sew

I am having more fun making costumes than one person ought to be having. Costumes are a great way to learn to sew—I got the bulk of my sewing experience making Halloween costumes for my two kids. The patterns are usually easy and forgiving of rookie mistakes. Vittorio, the Necchi BF, has been working overtime. He let me know Wednesday afternoon that he needed a good oiling because he started growling. (He had been sewing for several hours at a time, two days straight.) I am very attuned to how he sounds when he's running. If I hear anything amiss, I stop and figure out what's going on. A good drink of some Bluecreeper sewing oil and a new needle and he was ready to go back to work.

The costumes for this Sunday and next are done. The new iMac arrived Wednesday and I have an appointment to drop it off at Greg's office this afternoon and then I'll stop at Jo-Anns and pick up some fabric for the other costume I need. I am going to time my trip into town so I can stop and pick up Chinese food for dinner. I am tired of cooking and the husband and I have not had date night in a while. We can have date night at home.

Alas, I did not get to sew with the ladies at church yesterday because sewing was canceled. One woman was sick, another was out of town, and it's close to Christmas and everyone is busy. It was sunny but cold—5 degrees when I woke up—and the dogs prefer napping on their poufs to being outside. I finished making a batch of chicken stock and worked on cleaning up the sewing rooms. We will have a full house for Christmas and I need to start putting things away. I put the WIPs (works in progress) into one bin for easy access and everything else got filed.

And then it was mostly slicing and dicing fabric to make more Ritzville quilt blocks:


That top fabric on the white pile is not as dark as it appears. There is some contrast among the whites/creams, but not that much. I'll pair up the squares in these two piles and make more Magic 8 blocks and then reassess where I'm at with the total number of blocks and decide whether I need to get more fabric or not.

I am now on my sixth brand of rotary cutting blades in an attempt to find some that don't wear out so quickly. I am convinced that companies see these blades as a cash cow and thus make them out of inferior metal so they have to be replaced frequently. It's so wasteful. I have a couple of sharpening tools but they only get me a limited amount of additional use from each blade. These are the blades I have tried:

Fiskars: I think these are probably the best value. They are $32 for a five-pack, although you often can get them on sale for 50% off. (Amazon has a five-pack for $9.) At our store, they are kept under lock and key. Getting someone to unlock the cabinet can be a trial.

Gingher: ONE blade costs $17. Those Germans. Even on sale at 50% off, $8.50 a blade is too rich for my blood. If I could see a significant difference, I'd spend the money. I haven't. I used the ones that came with my Gingher rotary cutter—which is hefty and nice to use—but now I put cheaper replacement blades in it.

Olfa: Also under lock and key at Jo-Anns and also pricey. A five-pack of these is $43, or $21.50 during a really good sale. (Usually they are only 30% off.) I was disappointed to discover that in a batch of five blades, I got one that cut wonky right out of the gate.

Omnigrid: These are new and Jo-Anns just started carrying them. I found them in the quilting notions aisle, which doesn't require unlocking and where stuff often goes on sale. They are priced about the same as the Fiskars blades, at $30 for a five-pack. I have high hopes.

Improved Cut: I believed the glowing description on Amazon and ordered a bunch of these. Eh. I went through them much faster than I anticipated considering that their claim to fame was that they would last significantly longer than other blades.

Sewology: When Hobby Lobby has their Sewology house brand of sewing notions on sale for 50% off, I use it as an opportunity to stock up or try something new. They were out of these during the last sale, but I grabbed a pack during this week's sale and just put a new one into my cutter.

There are a few other brands out there yet to try. When I find something I like, I would love to order them in packs of 50. I am seeing some titanium coated ones, too, which are worth testing. I might also ask at the quilt stores in town and see which brands they're using.


We have had a string of very cold but very sunny days. The view looking south down our road is picture-worthy:


Whenever I look at that speed limit sign, I think of the the accident that happened in our front yard around this time eight years ago. DD#1 was a freshman in college and had just come home for Christmas break. We had painted her room while she was gone and were in there one evening putting things back together when I heard what sounded like thunder. I looked out the window and saw a tire rolling into the front yard. The husband—being an EMT—ran out to see who was injured and I called 911. Our neighbor across the street came out to help the husband. The victim had been heading north when he went off the road, sheared off the speed limit sign, then hit a tree in our yard that caused the truck to spin 180 degrees. He was flung from the truck and died of his injuries. It was a sad event.

On a happier note, I am just about to write the last college tuition check. DD#2 graduates in May and is off to bigger and better things. The husband and I are quite used to our empty nest now, but it will be nice to have a bit of extra disposable income. We've kicked around the idea of doing some traveling. He would like to go to Iceland. I would love to go back to Germany. I've enjoyed both my visits there and I think he'd like it too.

I got an e-mail yesterday morning that Heartbeat Quilting and The Quilting Bee in Spokane are co-sponsoring a visit from Angela Walters in April. She's a fairly well-known longarm quilter but she's also teaching a couple of classes on quilting with domestic machines. I got into the beginning class called "Mastering the Meander"! (I do loops really well but meandering is a lot tougher for me.) I forwarded the information to my friend Tera, too, to see if she wanted to take a class with me. It would be fun to spend some time with her doing something we both love and now I have the time to take some of these classes.


The woman who is the admin of our Necchi Facebook group mentioned in passing that she had bought one of these:

It's an Addi Express sock knitting machine. I just about fell over when I found out about this. I'm not going to rush out and buy one, but Paradise Fibers in Spokane carries them (they did a YouTube video) and I might have to stop in and check it out the next time I am there. Socks are my least favorite thing to knit. (I feel like I should say that in a whisper so the knitting police do not come and take away my master knitter certification.) And this reminds me very much of my Barbie Knitting Machine. I still have it, tucked away in a cabinet.

Decorated for Christmas

Decorated for Christmas

Stars Aligned

Stars Aligned