Thursday, 25 December 2014

Got there in the end!

A number of issues have affected my Christmas preparations.

I've mentioned my mother's eye operations elsewhere. She is registered blind from age related macular degeneration and hopes to improve her sight to allow her to read large print - this would be a great Christmas present! Unfortunately she had underestimated the impact of these operations and the travelling on her elderly body. And of course, the emotional strain has been high, too. This isn't the place to discuss in greater detail, suffice it to say I've been on hand to pick up the pieces and she has stayed with me for longish periods over the last 11 weeks. This has impacted on my Christmas preparations. My mother is home again - she is fiercely (and sometimes foolishly) independent. On a side note, she's surprised that she's so tired - well I'm really tired too and I haven't had the ops and am quite a bit younger! The traveling on its own does that to me.

Last month, while sewing my black linen jacket, the bottom thread cutter on my sewing machine stopped working. My dealer had to send it off to the company as he couldn't fix it. So I was without it for a while (I still had my class machine).  I assumed it would then be okay when it was returned. Not so. First thing that happened was that the side thread cutter fell off when I tried to use it. DH put it back in. It's just a plastic piece with locating pins which snap into place. It obviously hadn't been inserted properly, I thought. I managed to sew a few rows without problem. Well, once my top thread came out of the needle. Then, later, after I had done several rows of topstitching using the triple stitch and had gone back to plain sewing, with a longer stitch length as I was tacking the pocket sides to the panel edges, I got the dreaded jammed indication on the LCD display. I managed to free the jacket eventually, with help of DH again. There were several upper thread loops wrapped around underneath. I don't know why it happened. However, DH found a small piece of plastic on the machine - broken plastic - which appeared to be part of the machine. We couldn't identify its source. However, DH then realised that the side panel had sprung apart, presumably hadn't been engaged properly and this was probably why the thread cutter fell out.

My husband phoned the dealer while I was in London, with my mother for her eye operation and he then took the machine back to the dealer, about 15 miles away. To cut a long story short, my machine is fine and the plastic didn't come from it, though the dealer agreed it is definitely a piece of machine plastic, presumably from the workshop. The thread cutter at the side is designed to come out so that's not a problem.  My confidence in the machine remains a bit dented, though. We're both rather disillusioned with what we thought was a top grade machine from a top grade manufacturer.

While my mother was with me I was less able to do any sewing - it wasn't off the agenda altogether though. I was also able to do some simple mending for her. She's very proud of my sewing and is always very encouraging. I wasn't able to start on my Christmas preparations until after we took her home, though.

I had big plans but most items are off the agenda - I'm always too ambitious! I made my first ever cushions for one daughter and have made a scissor case for another (I didn't even think about taking a picture of this). I also wanted to make everyone a 'bauble' for the tree (we have tree decorations that the children made at school and like the idea of perpetuating this with a decoration made by me) and an origami tree card. I needed to decide whether this was too ambitious a plan. Well, I knew it was but I had to decide what if anything I could do.

My college sewing tutor D decided to hold a couple of 'sewing bees' in the run up to Christmas. I went to the first and got help altering a lovely top I bought in a sale which fitted at the shoulders and bust but was too loose under the arms  - it was 2 - 3 sizes bigger than my usual size in this store. The top is a lace like decorative fabric over a stretch under layer. I finished off at home and tried it on. It fitted well and looks great! My Christmas dinner top sorted!

Also, I've never made cushions and I got some advice as I cut out and started to sew 2 cushions from elephant panels backed with velour spot upholstery fabric. I bought the elephant panels at Harrogate. They were already overlocked.  I cut out the backing pieces. I later overlocked them at home. D told me how to place the zip. I did have some problems stitching my zips and they aren't perfect but they 'will do'. They are centred zips rather than overlapped which might have been better but centred worked out better pattern-wise. I'm getting better at not being a perfectionist!  I bought a cushion insert but the first was a little small  - 69cm and slim, hollow fibre, so I replaced with a much plumper 71cm feather insert. These work well. I have enough of the spotted fabric left to make a double sided case for the 69cm insert - again, after Christmas!


I also asked advice on my wrap skirt, done under the guidance of this same tutor at college. I asked the question in an earlier post. Take it to pieces? Make no change and wear lower? Compromise? My tutor pinned it tighter at waist and hip, raising it, unfortunately, and making it shorter, but at least it will fit. This is a compromise solution. I won't have time to finish it off until after Christmas. I will make some adjustments to the paper pattern so next time should be better.

I decided not to do the Christmas baubles or origami tree. No time. I asked about topstitching the jacket front in the second sewing bee and we decided against this.  I had decided to make my oldest daughter a blouse (as promised months ago) and used the second bee to start this. D also offered additional time on the following day which suited me. I'm posting separately about the blouse but suffice it to say that I was up until after midnight of the day I had to deliver it, desperately trying to finish it.

Edited to add - my daughter loves her elephant cushions!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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