I like to test drive before I buy. That works for ideas as well as things. The first time I saw a FB post with “Like if you agree welfare recipients should be drug tested,” I almost marked Like. I didn’t for the same reason I don’t mark Like if you love Jesus or the Bible or kittens. I could be a drug crazed ax murdering kitten hating atheist and mark Like. I figure that God, the cat world, and I know my truth so why worry about what anyone else thinks.
Later, I was glad I have my no like-y policy because I didn’t have to retract a misplaced Like. I’d test driven that drug testing idea long enough to find out that it costs more than it’s worth since (surprise, surprise) a majority of welfare and food stamp recipients are not addicts or alkies. I’d also found out that huge campaign contributions by folks who market the drug test kits are distributed to legislative and gubernatorial candidates who propose and support this legislation.
Recently, I thought about buying a sewing machine. A serger. I was jealous because my daughter in law is making these incredibly cute baby onesies using her serger. I wanted to do that, but the truth is that I don’t need one. I have so many projects started and unfinished that buying an expensive piece of equipment that I may or may not use is embarrassingly frivolous.
The idea of picking up sewing again nagged at me. When I say it like that, it sounds like I could be a contender for Project Runway. I sewed in high school because all young women in my day took at least one Home Ec class. Mrs. Inez Bennett taught us the rudiments of sewing, housekeeping, cooking, and child rearing: all deemed necessary for the young Texas woman of the 60’s and early 70’s. I sewed my finger more often than I sewed anything wearable. I adhered to Mrs. Bennett’s admonition that “as you sew, so shall you rip” and became a practiced seam ripper.
A few months ago, Bob and I found an old Singer sewing machine at Salvation Army. For $29.95 plus tax, it became mine. It has 2 directions-forward and reverse; it sews straight and zig-zag. Nothing else. It is perfect for me. The only drawback is that it weighs a ton, and I have to either gird myself before I lift it or holler at Bob to move it. Whoever owned it kept bobbins intact along with tools for adjusting tension and small brushes for cleaning thread lint from the machine.
Relearning how to thread the machine and load the bobbin, I had time to wonder about the person who owned the machine. She, or he if we aren’t being sexist, didn’t wear many colors since the bobbin thread was white, ivory, brown, black, and navy. There was one yellow threaded bobbin but that was the only deviation from nun colors. Not even nuns wear that much drabbery. She left her machine in great shape. The motor sounds perfect.
I practiced making a couple of bibs for Bob’s grand baby using Bob’s old jeans and my old t-shirts. They came out kind of cute. Not sure if they’ll ever be used, but I looked at them with pride like I’d birthed them. This was all preliminary to making a rag quilt for the baby. I found this cute baby quilt on Pinterest (http://doityourselfdivas.blogspot.com) and decided to make it. The quilt shown on that blog is very southern charm and I love it. But I like bright so I ordered seven different 1/2 yards of the flannel Seuss prints that Fabric Depot, an online fabric store, offers.
I also bought a rotary cutting wheel, a plastic quilting square, and a cutting mat. I’m a big Hobby Lobby and Michael’s shopper so I made multiple visits with my 40% off coupons to get my tools on the cheap. I love that cutting wheel; it could be lethal. Death by Cutting Wheel, available on Nook this Christmas.
The directions call for cutting 2-3″ wide and 2-6″ wide strips of each color of print; there were 14-3″ wide strips and 14-6″ wide strips after all the cutting. Instead of batting, this quilt uses an inner layer of flannel so you cut 7-3″ and 7-6″ strips of an 8th solid colored piece of flannel. I am the kind of person who cannot go zen when doing repetitive tasks. I loved watching Bob carefully sand baby Ashlynn’s cradle; he had this serene expression and was in the sanding zone.
I don’t get that calm focus. Sometimes, I go into some maniacal haze, risking a bladder infection because I won’t stop for any reason and end up doing a bathroom dance while trying to hit some dumb goal I’ve set. Most of the time, I get distracted by Squirrel Wars in the mesquite tree and my mind arcs out the window. This time, I worked a little at a time, taking breaks to watch Bob or have a cup of coffee. I ironed the fabric, folded some laundry. Cut strips of newspaper into 3″ and 6″ strips, pinned them to the fabric, and went outside for awhile. Cut fabric and resisted the urge to race the cutting wheel or do a mental time travel. Doing things in little stages helped me stay calmer and more patient. Turns out I can do repetitive tasks.
The directions call for sewing the strips together after machine basting each fabric sandwich together. After trimming threads, I bound the edges with a plain black fabric. It looked crisp. The last thing to do was to snip the exposed edges of fabric with little snips so it ravels and is softly huggable. My friend, Glenda, said I should have used 1/2″ seams; I protested that the directions said smaller. She, who has finished 100’s of quilts, said, “Well, it’s good that you followed directions” and left it at that. After washing the quilt, a couple of the seams ravelled out and I had to make repairs. I stretched, repaired, and washed again. She was right. When I re-read the directions, it said to make tiny cuts in the seams. There was nothing about tiny seams.
Sometimes I’m not even test driving the right vehicle.