Monday, December 28, 2015

Something I Didn't Learn On Aunt Mildred's Porch

As I explain in the About the Porch section of my website, I learned how to knit, crochet, cross stitch and do various other crafts on my Aunt Mildred's porch in the summers of my childhood.  What no one ever did on her porch was sew with a sewing machine.

My mother always had a sewing machine, but until she caught the quilting bug in the mid 80s, I never saw it open.  It was something I always knew was there and I saw pictures of some cute things she had made me when I was really little, but I didn't see her sit and actually sew with it.  It was just a piece of furniture in our playroom and I didn't think about it much.  It had its own cabinet with a cover she had made and something sat on top of it, like a table.

When she started quilting, I was in middle school and really wanted to learn how to sew.  We didn't have home ec in my school and she didn't want me using her sewing machine.  I imagine she didn't want to have umpteen million new projects being made when I should have been doing things like playing outside.

I assure you, if someone had ever brought a sewing machine to Aunt Mildred's porch, I would have found a way to learn how to at least make a simple straight seam.

Fast forward to high school, and a former teacher who was my neighbor and a marvelous seamstress asked me if I wanted to make a dress.


With no skills or instruction beyond that one pattern we cut out and sewed, I suddenly had the keys to my mother's sewing machine and off I went.  I guess by then, she figured I was old enough not to sew through my hands and probably gentle enough not to break it.  Plus, that wasn't her "good" machine, it was just the one down cellar.

This was all before the internet, so I had to read pattern instructions and just wing it.  I winged it enough to make my prom dress for my senior prom and though it wasn't really the style of the times (I didn't know you could actually sew things that were up to date stylewise) it was something I was really proud of and would wear right now if the occasion called for it!

Whenever I was home from college, I would sew a bunch of things for myself, and even some pajamas for my roommate one year, and happily wore them with no idea that I could actually manipulate patterns before cutting them to make sure they really fit.

I did a lot of unspeakable alterations that would make a real seamstress croak.

Not that I have a lot of  amazing skills today, but I think I am a great example of  how simple it is to sew, if you can read and have a little creativity.   With youtube, you can search for how to do almost anything and there are some really great people out there who have very clear, well done videos to show all sorts of things that mystified me years ago.  People have asked if I will teach them to sew and I always say no.  No one should learn my hack, that'll do skills.  You can learn far better from the internet! 

When I graduated from college, my mother shocked me with a present of a new sewing machine of my own.  I hadn't asked for it and it hadn't crossed my mind that when I moved out, I wouldn't have a machine and would always have to go use hers.

Along with my Bernina 1001, my grandmother shocked me yet again with a FunLock serger to go with it.  I've shown plenty of pictures of that on here, so I won't bother in this post.

My friends were like "WHAT?" while I was in heaven.  I didn't have a degree in home ec, so sewing machines probably seemed like a weird graduation present but I knew what lay ahead.

Sort of.

I can't even name everything I've made in the 20 years I've had this machine.  I've sewn enough for other people that I probably have earned enough to buy a new machine, but why bother?  I see these newfangled digital Berninas and I get a little light headed.

These are all of my stitches and I can't imagine using any others! I haven't even found a use for everything I can do with these.

I know that the new digital machines have all sorts of stitch regulators and favorite stitches you can save and some will embroider and do really fancy stuff.  I guess I still see each machine as a separate thing.  A serger serges, a sewing machine sews, an embroidery machine embroiders and a long arm quilting machine quilts.  Even though I've done just about all of that on this machine!

My mother gave me a walking foot a long time ago, and I think I might have recently worn it out!  I use it for way more than quilting, mainly because I forget to change it until I'm partway through something.  I read all over the internet that a lot of people use it all the time for the same reason and love it.  The only time I change it is when I need to make a narrow seam that the walking foot it just too big and clunky to do well.

With my Bernina came a couple of metal bobbins and I quickly learned that just a couple of bobbins is a real pain because not everything can be sewn with a few colors.  At that time, it was still the late 90s, and the 1001 was still fairly  new, so I managed to find a package of a few more bobbins that fit.  I assumed I'd always be able to find bobbins to fit.

But in the past 10-15  years, I have tried finding more bobbins and they are always just a little too big. The Bernina dealer we had nearby is no longer dealing with Berninas, so I have no place to drive to within an hour's drive.  I was afraid to get them online because I kept reading terrible reviews about the quality or that they were not the size people were saying they were and I didn't want to be stuck.

This Christmas, when no one knew what to get me and I kept saying I didn't want to make a list, I decided to bite the bullet and investigate these bobbins and see if someone could get them.

Voila, 8 more bobbins that fit!  I really think the metal kind work best, though the plastic have never given me trouble.  I just feel like the metal makes things glide better.  I was nervous when I saw the holes because my original bobbins don't have holes but these work just fine.

Are you ready for my big confession?  I've sewn on this machine for more hours than I can possibly count in the past 2 decades and I've never had it serviced!  I don't think about it until I clean it myself and then I wonder if maybe I should take it somewhere.  But then I'll  be just about to start a new project and don't want to give it up for a week or more.  So I continue to subscribe to the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" theory.

My mother has more than one sewing machine and so does my sister and it makes me think maybe I should have a fancy machine along with this one.  But then I see all of the new machines and they are all made of plastic.  This 1001 is actually porcelain covered, so it has this heavy, cool feel to it.  The plastic machines just feel so cheap to me.  Like they aren't made to last.

So, I'll continue to save my pennies until the day this Bernina bites the dust and I have to give in to a new model.  Until then, I think we are in this for the long haul!

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Ham, Egg and Cheese Braid

I was featured with these fine ladies!

Recently I saw a picture of a Ham and Egg Breakfast Braid from and thought it would be a good thing to make for Christmas morning.  It's anyone's guess what time everyone will be at my parents' house and sometimes, we get kind of hungry before it's time for Christmas dinner.  Something with a little protein seemed like a good idea.

In the original recipe, it suggests using tubes of crescent roll dough but I don't buy those, so I had to think about what I would use that would be easy and would hold together.

I whipped out my tried and true pizza dough recipe and made up a batch in my bread machine.  Using the bread machine saves so  much time because it does all of the kneading and and rising for me.  I also know it takes exactly 1 hour 45 minutes so I can plan what I will do.

I made this as a trial the other night and it was really big for one cookie sheet.  For Christmas, since we have a non dairy eater, I divided the dough in half and did one with cheese and one without.

Once I had the dough laid out, I put about 6 pieces of deli ham down the center and then half of the scrambled eggs on top of that.  I didn't put cream cheese in my Christmas day version and I liked the texture of the eggs better without it.  On one tray, I put some monterey jack cheese on top of the eggs.  I used cheddar the first time and it was good but a little sharp.  This was milder.

It's not really a braid when I make it.  I slice each side and put the sides across and stick it to the dough on the opposite side.  Then I slice some more, etc.  They end up looking like swaddled babies, I think.

I baked them at 415 degrees for about 15 minutes because pizza dough cooks faster and hotter.

I always, always, always forget to do an egg wash, so I didn't even bother separating an egg to pretend I was going to do it this time!

I used a pizza cutter to slice across and people took pieces to eat on a plate with a fork or just in their hands.

It was a big hit and I think I will make it for Christmas morning again. 

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Fashion World Is No Match For Me

I've gone right over the edge.  By accident.  I've committed fashion murder.

Sort of.

I bought a pair of jeggings that I thought were jeans.  They looked like jeans and didn't have the telltale jeggings fakeness to them.    They felt like real denim.

They were super cheap so I should have known.

They are snug and then flare at the bottom.

When I realized the error of my ways, I almost took them back but it wasn't really worth the effort because they were like $14.  But they were too long and looked even more ridiculous rolled up like this.

But, since I don't have any respect for jeggings, I couldn't bring myself to hem them.

They were so long, they needed to be rolled up twice and they weren't staying rolled because of the flare, so I had no choice but to hem them.

And now I think they might be a little short, so I might take them out and redo them.  Or, I might never wear them in public so who will care?

I'm not kidding anyone.  I will obviously wear them in public because they are easy to wear and comfortable, right?

But, I think I need a belt because they keep slipping down.

Who wears jeggings with a belt??

Who hems jeggings?

And who hems them with gold thread?

That's right, gold!  I've had this gold thread on a bobbin for YEARS and never find a use for it.  When I tried to find the color that would match the topstitching on these high quality pants, I didn't have anything close.

So, I figured gold was the closest I was going to get and now I can totally entertain myself when I see my gold hems.

See that extra pocket detail there, and the grommet?  See how I might have thought they were real jeans?

After this fashion faux pas, it's all downhill.  Stay tuned for the mumus!

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