Friday, August 03, 2018

We have moved!

Phase 1 of our move to DH's hometown is complete.  We have moved, the old house is sold and we are settling into our new community.

My last blog post was the first of March.  After that, life got crazy busy:  school, graduation, church, 4-H, getting the old house ready to go on the market and  packing, packing, packing.  Whew!

By the end of March, we thought we had enough done at the old house to start moving in.  The final trim was installed in the office and was painted.

Octagonal window over the stairs.  Forgive the selfie:  it's hard to take a picture of a window after dark.

We finally got to pull the carpet off the stairs.  We waited with that task until most of the painting and moving was done so that we wouldn't tear up the stairs even more.

Pulling staples can be a fun family activity!
Stairs after painting the stair backs.
I think we pulled about a million tiny staples from multiple carpets from those stairs.  We found at least two different carpets that have been installed over those steps in the past and both aluminum and copper staples.  After we were done, I painted the trim and the backs of the steps.  We are leaving the steps uncovered for now.

Though we had hoped to have the new counters installed before we moved, it didn't quite work out.  I had measured the north side counter (longest side with the sink) incorrectly and it was 5 1/2" too short and had to be re-ordered.  The counters and new sink were installed while I was back at the old house with the kids and I got to home to pretty new counters.

West and North walls.  Please excuse the dishes.

So pretty!

So nice having my own gas stove again!  Again, please excuse the mess in the dining room.
 The counters are Formica laminate in a slate blue.  We also had the cabinet that was to the right of the stove switched out to these narrower 12" cabinets on both sides of the stove to pull the stove away from the drywall covered chimney in the corner.  I am still debating on painting the cabinets to match the others.  I think the wood is pretty and the fact that they totally mismatch the original cabinets doesn't really bother me. 

Unfortunately, it turned out that the first set of counters were delivered without a backsplash and the no-drip edge that we had ordered.  The replacement countertop for the sink side came in and was correct, but the edges didn't match up and that leaves the potential for ruining the counters as water can seep into the seam.  We have the new counter top for the west wall sitting in the living room now and it will be installed soon.

During one of DH's visits in March, there was a pretty bad storm with some strong winds that took off part of our roof.  While it was not in our plans to replace the roof until the addition was complete so we could do it all at once, this storm prompted us to go ahead to have the roof replaced (no pics - some of the many that I have lost in the last few months.)

DH and his dad and BIL also removed a tree and shortened the clothesline in preparation for the addition:

As DH put it, that was one big root canal!

We moved the end of May and I didn't take pictures of moving day as I was just too busy.  It went relatively smoothly despite DS spraining an ankle.  We are now as settled as we can be while still waiting on the addition to get started.  We have a few more things to finish on the original house, but they will wait until school starts in three weeks so I can spend as much time with the girls as I can.  I hope to get more and better pictures then.

(I wrote this post, lost it, wrote it again, lost it again, lost most of my most recent pictures, but wanted to write this update before I forget everything.)

Friday, March 02, 2018

Old House - March

Thanks to the weather, we haven’t been able to do a lot to the old house.  DH has been up a couple of times, mostly to visit his parents.  He and I did get away the first weekend of February sans kids for a weekend which was wonderful.

For that weekend, we rented a U-Haul trailer and loaded it with stuff from closets and under the basement steps that we aren’t using at our current home.  We figure the more small things we can move now, the less we will have to do for the big move this summer.  We moved our bookshelves and books also.  Most of these books are old favorites we’ve all read over and over as well as sewing books, computer programming and networking books and lots of books left over from various Bible studies.

I did a little more painting as well.  This is DH’s office where the trim was all painted white.  I used the same Wild Bosenberry paint that I used for the downstairs trim.

There is still some trim to be installed.

And we still need the door coming into the office.

I decided that I want to repaint the trim in the upstairs hallway and the wall side of the staircase all the way down to the main floor.  The trim has been painted before and is very chipped and dirty.  I also want to repaint the upstairs bathroom trim using a marine type paint to  help prevent damage from moisture.  This will be particularly important with the window in the shower.. 

We would prefer to not have to replace that window due to rot.  

I still have to paint the Scout’s room and that should be the last of the painting.  I was going to wait with all of it until the last of the trim was installed, but Dear Husband would like to set up at least part of his office so he can work while he is there for weekends.

The only other thing that we have done is to clear out the smoke house and move the good wood to another shed.  The smoke house is coming down to make way for the addition.  We also have to take down a small tree and move the clothes line.  DH has been on the phone with contractors to discuss estimates and time lines and we are now on the list for the foundation work to begin in late March or early April.  I am hoping to be completely done and settled by the first day of school. Earlier would be awesome but I am trying to be realistic.  Things happen.  We just have to roll with it.

I am still trying to find the best way to blog with the iPad.  Google’s only suggestion to use Chrome and request the desktop version of the page, but the screen still bounces to the top of the page with every other letter and I can’t edit the size of any picture other than the first one.  The BlogPad Plus app works the best for just typing text, but doesn’t like adding pictures from anything other than the camera roll and I prefer to store them in Google Pnotos. I tried a browser called Puffin which looks promising, but didn’t allow me to select text and weirdly overlays new text over old text, like the old dot matrix printers that would just print the same line over and over.  It’s frustrating.  I just hope it is not a sign that blogging in general is dying. 

We don’t have a lot planned for March — just cleaning and packing and maybe taking down the smoke house.  April should be when things get really exciting for the old house as we start the construction for the addition. 

Monday, January 22, 2018


This is a test.  This is only a test and you can skip this post if you want.

I have been blogging on and off since 2006.  I started it to record my sewing projects and share information about my kids with extended family.  For several reasons,  I deleted most of those posts a few years ago and stopped blogging for a while.  I missed blogging though and resurrected the blog for the same reason I started the blog in the beginning:  to record and share my sewing projects.  This time, I limited posting about my kids for their privacy.  When we bought the old house last year and started renovations, I posted about our progress and only post about our kids when they give permission for me to do so.

I have been with Blogger this whole time.  It works for me, or did when I wrote most of my posts on the desktop and l stored my pictures on PictureTrail.  When PictureTrail got expensive,  I moved my pictures around and now upload most of them to Google Photos. I do most of my writing on an iPad because it is much more portable than even my lap.  Blogger just doesn’t work well in the mobile browsers.  Once you have written more than a couple of paragraphs, it flips back and forth to the top of the page.  That’s fine if you write short Instagram type posts with a picture and a caption, but my posts tend to be much longer than that with multiple pictures.

Google doesn’t make an app for Blogger anymore which annoys me as it really does seem that Google tends to love to develop new apps, but won ’t support the older ones.  I have not found a good app for writing Blogger posts.

I am writing this in mobile Word.  Writing plain text is fine, but Word will not insert pictures from Google Photos, so I will have to cut and paste the text from Word into the Blogger site and add pictures.  Google Docs works the same way.  Again, this annoys me.  I should be able to insert a picture from anywhere.

I am pondering moving the blog to another platform, such as WordPress.  If you blog and use a  mobile app for IOS  that you love for either Blogger or any other blogging platform, will you comment here with what you use and your opinion of it?  I would really love to get some new ideas.

Sorry for all the odd pictures — it was part of my test.

Thank you!

Thank you!

Monday, January 08, 2018

Lekala 4278 Box Pleat Dress and a little about the Old House

Sprite was asked to sing during Christmas Eve services at our church and asked for a new dress for the occasion.  She prefers simpler dresses that are sleeveless and not fussy with lace or ruffles.  She prefers fuller skirts rather than straight skirts and doesn't like heavy fabrics.

We picked the fabric first from my stash.  She originally wanted blue, but we found a dark red silk dupioni that has been sitting my stash for so long that I don't remember when exactly I bought it.  She is very fair, so jewel tones look good on her and pastels tend to make her look washed out.  This darker red was lovely and I even had a zipper in stash that matched.  I bought silk thread to match.

She looked through all my current patterns, but didn't find anything she loved.  I pulled up the Lekala site and we sifted through sleeveless dress patterns.  We found several that matched her criteria and she and I eliminated all the ones she didn't like and a few that I didn't until she decided on pattern 4278

This is my first time actually making a Lekala pattern and it was a good experience.  I entered her measurements instead of using the standard ones and the test pattern looked good, so we bought it.  Downloading and taping went smoothly.  I've taped a lot of  Pattern Master Boutique patterns and this one was similar with all the pattern lines and page guides lining up pretty well.  I added my own seam allowances.  I generally prefer a 3/8" seam allowance as that is the distance from the edge of my serger foot to the right needle, but in this case, I added 5/8" for a little extra for adjusting.

I actually made a muslin of the bodice.  I don't usually do that, but I only had so much of the silk dupioni and I knew there wouldn't be any do-over.  The muslin fit well at the bust and shoulders, but it gaped badly under the arms and was just too low, exposing her bra.  I raised the bottom of the armscye by 3/4" which fixed both problems.   Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of my pattern adjustment.

Before being pressed and facings attached. 

The pattern was drafted well.  The seams and notches all matched.  I didn't use the facing pieces since I had redrawn the armscye, so I drew new ones from the adjusted pattern pieces.  I had some problems understanding the instructions, but I have sewn several of these dresses before and thought I knew what I was doing.  I made a critical mistake, however, in sewing the zipper in the back before I sewed anything else. All went well until I needed to turn the dress right side out and couldn't because the zipper made a circle and every time I tried to turn it right side out,  I pulled the whole top through and ended up wrong side out again.  There wasn't time to redo the zipper at that point, so I opted to rip out the stitching for the arm facings,  fold in and press the same allowances and top stitch.  It worked, but my top stitching is crooked and it doesn't look good close up. 

The skirt has six box pleats and these all went smoothly.  The skirt attached to the bodice with no easing needed.  Sprite didn't want any color blocking, so I cut the waistband from the same fabric as the bodice and skirt.  I omitted the bottom skirt band and just lengthened the skirt 4 inches instead. I used a rolled hem stitch on my serger instead of blind hemming by hand as I was running out of time.  Sprite was fine with that choice but wants the skirt a couple inches shorter so I will still hand hem it before the next time she wears it -- probably at her confirmation in March. 

So here are the pictures of her modeling it:


Back.  The dark spots on the skirt are from her dripping wet hair.


It's a cute dress and I think the pattern is good so I may use it again. All the seams lined up; all the notches matched and the box pleats were well marked.  The instructions were okay but I was glad that I had other references for the zipper and box pleats.

 I loved the silk dupioni -- it sewed well, was not as slippery as I expected.  I had some problems fusing the interfacing to it, but my interfacing is on the old side so that may be more the problem.  The color is gorgeous on Sprite.  And from a distance, the dress looks great.

I also really like the new Lekala website.  The cool thing about Lekala, if you are not familiar with them, is that you can enter your measurements and order a custom pattern or you can select a standard size.  Since the last time I tried it, they have added the capability to select certain features, such as "No Sleeves" so we could view all the sleeveless dresses.  I entered Sprite's measurements and got a pattern that came pretty close to fitting.  When I try the patterns for myself, I am sure that I will still need to make some adjustments, but I will be starting with a pattern much closer to the finish line than with most patterns.

I did a pretty good job this time with the neck facing and the invisible zipper, though I still tend to put the zipper top at the wrong place.  I made it work by cutting off the top of the zipper and putting new stops at the correct location.  Fortunately, I have those in my stash from doing zipper repairs for my business.

Room for Improvement

Honestly, the instructions (and I read them twice) made no sense to me but I wish I had double checked the order of construction before I started so I would not have sewn the zipper in first.  I have done that on other projects and it works great on unlined/un-faced items, but it didn't work this time.  I should have held off sewing the zipper until the facings were sewn so I could easily turn it right side out.

I feel that the front darts are too long and I should have shortened them some, maybe as much as an inch.  I do need to take the time to practice sewing darts -- the "dimples"  at the end of each dart point to the fact that I am not doing something right.  From the back, I can also see now where I needed to shorten the bodice a bit so it would lay smoothly.  The muslin looked fine, but it didn't have the skirt.  In the finished dress, the skirt rides up a bit and causes the wrinkle in the back.

I also need to pay more attention when I am not using my usual seam allowance.  I tended to drift from the 5/8" to my usual 3/8".  I caught myself, but really need to stop sewing when tired.


I like this dress.  More importantly, despite the mistakes, Sprite loves this dress.  She looked and sounded so good as she stood at the front of church and sang "Mary, Did You Know?"  on Christmas Eve.  I cried through the whole song -- I always cry a little during it, but that was my baby girl up there and sounding so good.  She surprised a lot of people with her voice -- she is usually very shy and quiet. 

Happy New Year from the Old House!

This is going to be a big year for our family and probably another year of more blogging about the old house than sewing projects.  Sprite has a role in the middle school musical (Shrek Jr, and she plays the Dragon), confirmation and 4-H.   The Senior has music competitions, recitals, concerts and of course, graduation and all that comes with the end of high school.  Dear Husband and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in June followed by the big move. We are crossing our fingers and saying a prayer that all goes well.

We didn't spend Christmas at the old house due to Sprite's singing, but she and I went up the day after Christmas to clean floors.  It was a little chilly...

December 26, 1:46 pm.
and a little snowy, which I wasn't expecting as we hadn't gotten very much snow at all at home:

We had to go back out to get snow boots and a snow shovel to clear the porch and ramp.  It got colder the next day:
December 27 at 7 am

Even without heat to the upstairs, it was comfortable for sleeping at night.  I am so glad that DH had more insulation added to the attic.  It really helped.

We spent two days cleaning the floors on the main level.  I used an orbital cleaner and floor cleaning spray to get the dirt off.  The floors looked really dry and dull afterward.  We know, from talking to R- that his parents had sanded and refinished the floors at some point, so I felt comfortable using one of the sealed floor restorer type polishes,  It came with its own mop and I used that instead of the orbital polisher. 

It made a huge difference.
Before cleaning

After cleaning, before polish

Wet polish
Dried polish.
You can see in the corner where I hadn't yet applied the polish because the Diva's bed was over it.  I used a brand that came in both a high gloss and low gloss version and I chose the low gloss.  I don't care for super shiny floors and though the gloss would accentuate the flaws in the floor.

Sprite was thrilled.  She prefers to be barefoot and walking on the dusty floors was annoying.  Now they don't just look clean, they feel clean.

DH brought the other two kids up and we hosted our first family dinner on the Saturday before New Year's Eve.  Even with the Diva's bed in the dining room, we still comfortably sat 10 people at the table.  We had a good meal and a good family get-together and I hope that promises good times to come.

I hope everyone reading has a happy and healthy 2018! 

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Special Singer 401

Years ago, when DH and I bought our first home, we were new graduates with new jobs and not a lot of money for furniture. His dad offered to let us have some of the furniture from the farmhouse where DH had grown up, but which was vacant at the time. Among other things, we brought home this Singer sewing machine cabinet to use as a desk:

Singer cabinet #353 with my Singer 401a

It had been DH's mother's cabinet and he recalled her sewing at it.  But it didn't have a machine in it at the time we brought it home and no one knew where that machine could be. The cabinet did have a few sewing items in it, like a foot pedal, accessory box, a few patterns, and a few cams. I didn't know what they were at the time, but I kept them in one of the drawers. Later, I stripped the cabinet and refinished it with a tung oil finish.

About 10 years later, after the birth of our second child, I took up sewing to make cloth diapers and to give me something to do while being a stay-at-home mom to a two year old son and a medically fragile baby girl. It was fun and gave me a creative outlet. It didn't take long for me to progress from diaper-making to making baby clothes from Kwik Sew patterns. I set my modern machine on top of the cabinet, but it was really too high to work well and it was just too uncomfortable to sew long for that way. At some point, I asked the people on if it were possible to modify the cabinet for my modern machine and JennyG from SewClassic suggested that I look into a vintage machine. I ended up buying the Singer 401 in the picture and it is still one of my go-to machines and still resides in that cabinet.

Fast forward to a couple of weekends ago. My father in law is now selling the farm and my husband has been helping him clean out the house. DH was using FaceTime to call me while he was in the attic and show me what the house looked like now (we had spent our first summer there after our wedding) and I joking said "well, if you find your mom's old sewing machine, bring it home."  He agreed. A moment later, he and I were both surprised when he said "And there it is!"

Found at last!

His mom's original Singer 401 was tucked away in a cubby hole in the attic.  It had been sitting there at least 30 years or more. His mom passed away 34 years ago and it probably hadn't been used since before her death. It was covered in dust and grime, bird and mouse droppings and sported a mud dauber's nest underneath. It still had a filled bobbin and a broken needle. The bobbin winder tire had melted into goo and the power cord was very stiff.

Still had Cam #4 inside.

DH opened up the top and found the machine was actually pretty clean inside.  He brought it home and I spent a couple of hours cleaning, oiling and lubricating. After inspecting the inside wiring, I borrowed the power cord and a foot pedal from my other 401 and plugged her in.

She runs!
It was a beautiful sound. This machine had been well cared for before being left in that cubby hole and with a little new oil and grease, she ran beautifully after over thirty years of just sitting.

She still makes pretty stitches too:
Straight stitch and zig zag

Decorative, including satin stitch

I bought a few new parts from Sew-Classic including a new power cord, new needle plate, and bobbin cover. There is still a little rust on the thread guides and some bug stains on the back of the machine, but she is now all cleaned up and ready to be reunited with her cabinet sometime in the future.


Hard to believe this is the same machine!

From the research I've done, she would have been made about 1957 or 1958 and was Singer's top of the line machine at the time.  There was very little lint inside. While she has nicks and scratches due regular use, the fact that she moved at all is a testimony to the good care she received during her working life.

DH found another machine in the attic a bit later:  a Necchi BF Nova:

This one, per my research, dates back to the early 1950s, probably around 1954.  She is much cleaner as she's been stored in her case since the last time she sewed. I haven't played with this machine yet as the wiring has some bare spots so it is unsafe to even plug her in. This machine is much more stiff and hard to turn and will need a thorough cleaning and lubricating before she sews again.  I will probably put her away until after we have moved to the old house and our addition is built.  Then, hopefully, I will have more time and space to play with her.

Now I just need to figure out where to put them both.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Old House -- Done for now

October and November were a whirl of activity for our family: the last marching band performances, concerts, talent shows and holidays.  Work has continued on the old house as well, just a little more slowly but significant progress was still made.

Since my last post:

  • The dining room ceiling has been completely installed.
  • All the trim in the dining room, kitchen, stair case window and upstairs bathroom has been installed.
  • The third coat of paint applied to Dear Husband's (aka DH) office.
  • All the trim in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom has been painted.
  • The shelves removed from Sprite's closet.
  • Living room has been painted.
  • Sprite's room has been completely repainted, including trim and ceiling
  • Bought two rugs and a couch so we can now all sit down in one room without dragging in a kitchen or office chair
  • Started a war against the mice infesting the basement.
  • Cleaning has commenced.
I spent two weekends painting trim. The trim in upstairs bath and the kitchen was all painted white, but the trim of the rest of the house has been painted "Wild Boysenberry" by Behr in the Marquis line. We chose this to come as close as possible to the original stain.  Many, many years ago (at least 50), someone painted over most of the stained woodwork with a muddy brown painted that they then tried to make look wood by lightly brushing a darker color over it to make a "grain". It's kind of cool, but the paint was peeling, dirty and chipped. We did a lead paint test which was negative and decided to paint over it instead of stripping and re-staining. 

The entrance hall woodwork was never painted, however, and I want to retain that if possible. I am going to give it a good cleaning and maybe retouch the scratches. The Wild Boysenberry comes as close as we could get to matching the original stain.

The fun part was painting the crown molding. To prevent painting the brand new ceiling tile (in the pic at left), I did something I don't normally do: I taped everything and everywhere. Above and below the molding, around all the trim and even the floor (not shown here).

I used a lot of tape.

Tape ball almost the size of the fan from painting the dining and living rooms.

But it worked. I got minimal paint on the tiles and that small amount of paint isn't noticeable.

I panicked a bit when I started painting. The Wild Boysenberry is a deep deep purple. It is a much lighter purple when wet, however, and I was very concerned that it would look weird when I painted a whole room's worth of trim with it. Fortunately, it dried as a much deeper color and came out looking amazing.

In this picture, the inside of the doorway is the original stain, the left side is the new paint and the top is the old paint.  The paint here wasn't dry yet, but the color was still pretty close.

After all that, we hung curtains, cleaned, washed the bedding again and bought a couple rugs for the floors.  We got to spend Thanksgiving at the house just relaxing, visiting and playing a spirited game of Uno with the kids.

Here are the latest pics of the work done so far:

Entrance Hall:

Living Room (prior to curtains being installed -- they hadn't been delivered when I took the picture):

Book case doors have been installed since this picture was taken.
South window in progress.  I painted the trim but not the windows for now.  The windows will get repainted in the spring/summer when they get repaired and re-glazed.

Dining Room/Diva's Temp Bedroom:

The west (right) window didn't get painted at all.  It will make way for the pocket door that will lead into the Diva's permanent bedroom when the addition is built.  The dark trim in the back corner is covering the new drain for the upstairs bathroom.


Door to basement.  Difficult to see, but the trim now matches the door trim in the rest of the house.

Door to the storage room/downstairs bathroom

Storage Room:

I didn't paint this room or anything else as it is being removed with the addition.  I just cleaned it up.  Now you can both walk through it and find things.  Amazing!

Upstairs bathroom:

In addition to the trim being installed and painted, I also installed the towel hooks (left, past the door) and the toilet paper holder.    I installed a shower curtain later over the window to help protect it from the shower.

Senior's Bedroom:

He has new curtains and room on the floor to walk!  His room will get painted later this winter -- I am just sick of painting for now.

Office/Temporary Bedroom:

 We have curtains now too!  Yea for privacy!

We still need to have the trim in this room installed where the new drywall was put up and this door will become the door to this room.

Sprite's Bedroom:

We did a lot to this room as it had a texture ceiling that needed to be painted, all the trim had to be painted and the walls needed three coats.  We can't remove the mirror as it was glued to the wall, so I painted its trim to match the rest of the room.

Since this picture was taken, Sprite and her dad put up the guitar hangers
so she can hang her guitars on the wall.

The doors look so much better and you'd have to look twice to see that the bedroom door (left) doesn't match the rest of the doors in the house.  It is a six panel door and the original doors are four panel.

The closet: fresh, clean and ready to organize.
I mentioned the war on mice and you may have noticed the upside down tub on each bed.  Those tubs contain the sheets and blankets in an effort to prevent mice from nesting in the sheets.  We have a fairly large colony in the basement somewhere and the furnace picks up the stench from their nest and circulates throughout the house.  We have had an exterminator out to the house and are doing all we can.  Hopefully, once we move in and are in the house all the time, we will be able to better control them.  Cats are not an option, though, due to allergies and asthma.

Our remaining task list still seems daunting:
  • Clean and polish the floors
  • Paint the Senior's room including trim and ceiling
  • Paint remaining trim in office and maybe upstairs hall
  • Paint basement stairway
  • Paint front door.
  • Clean woodwork in entrance hall and staircase
  • Clean, repair, glaze and paint 20 windows
  • Install outlets in basement
  • Power wash and stain porch and ramp
  • Order and have installed new cabinets for either side of stove, new counter tops and new stainless steel sink in kitchen
That covers about everything for the main house until we start the new addition which will be a whole new adventure. 

We are taking a break for now until January.  We have a lot of activities planned for the month with Christmas and the end of first semester.  The house is now enjoyable and it was really nice just to relax and visit with friends and family over Thanksgiving.