Monday, August 29, 2011

Sewing Pillows: Where is this going?

I did not sew much at all this weekend, therefore, I did not blog much this weekend.  I guess when the title of one's blog is Seven Hundred and Fifteen Pillows, one must create a pillow to actually write a story.  Which somewhat concerns me about the future of my blog. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off blogging about the following:

1.  Seven Hundred and Fifteen Ways to Annoy Someone
2.  Seven Hundred and Fifteen Ways to Eat an Oreo
3.  Seven Hundred and Fifteen Places I Would like to See
4.  Seven Hundred and Fifteen Places Where I Have Fallen Down
5.  Seven Hundred and Fifteen of My Most Embarrassing Moments

However, during our anniversary dinner, my husband was downright giddy at the possibility of me someday selling pillows on Etsy.  We even developed a marketing/business plan over bbq.  It was fun!  According to Kevin, there is a future in homemade pillows!  Someone has faith in me!!!  Which leads me back to learning how to sew.

Sunday night, I got out my new fabric and my pillow pattern and started to cut and pin away.  Instead of sewing pillows that would make my kiddies happy, I decided made something to make myself happy.  For years, I tried to knit and to be honest, I failed miserably.  If I tried to make a pattern, I could never remember where I was in the pattern.  I was always losing stitches, and my "scarves" just looked like pieces of shapeless cloth.  I never wore one of my scarves and would not dream of giving one to anyone else.  Never.  Ever. Never.  But, last night, I made a pillow that I am proudly displaying in our art room/office.  Instead of doing a top stitch to create a border, I hand sewed the opening shut.  Sewing by hand has never been something that I enjoy, but I made a neat line and it looks pretty good.  I even tried my best to line up the pattern on the material.  And, for my first try at matching a pattern, I did okay.

Pinning the pattern

While I do not look like I am enjoying myself, I am!

The boring brown chair, is not so boring anymore!

Up close and personal with pillow #3

Now, if I can make a pillow for myself, I figured I can make one to give.  My daughter Mimi, loves to make things and create pictures.  She has a very free form style but it is so fascinated by the details and process of how things work.  So, this afternoon, while her little sister was snoozing, Mimi and I had some alone time.  First, we snuggled up in bed and read the first chapter of Alice in Wonderland.  After we were finished, I thought it would be a good idea to take a little rest, meaning I needed to shut my eyes for a few minutes.  Mimi did not agree, she wanted to sew so she kept playing with my facial features.  Mimi's job is to hand me the pins and ask lots of questions, which she does quite well.  Mimi also got a little ticked off when her sister decided to wake up from her nap.  She actually thought we could just somehow stop Violet from getting up so we could continue to sew.  Anyone who has spent anytime with a two year old knows that 1. She will not sit in her room while her mom and sister sews. 2.  There is no way anyone can sew with a curious two year old in the room, it is just not going to happen.  Sewing waited until the girls went to bed and I finished pillow number four.  I think I am going to give the pillow to my mom.  I think it will be nice to actually give her something that I made.  Plus, I don't think she will put it on a chair or couch just because it is from me, I think she will actually like it!

Mom's pillow - hope she likes it!
Moving right along, I have some fabric left over from all my pillow but not enough to make more pillows.  I am going to briefly try my hand at sewing something else this week.  I might try the recipe card holder, but am up for suggestions from my readers.  Remember, it has to be simple.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sewing and Offspring!

It seems that once you have children, a simple task often turns monumental.  Yesterday, was not exactly one of our better days.  First, Violet has had a bit of a cold and around 3 a.m. she wanted a little company.  Instead of calling for us to come down and get her, or slowly walking upstairs while holding the railing; Violet runs up the middle of the stairs, without holding the railing, and screaming like a deranged toddler in turn scaring the living daylights out of her parents.  After three nights of doing this, tonight we will be putting a gate in front of our bedroom door.  What the heck does this have to do with sewing, you ask?  It has everything to do with sewing because I was exhausted and cranky yesterday.  Guess who else was exhausted and cranky yesterday? My children.  Therefore, we did not have a whole lot of fun.  By the time the children were all tucked in, all I wanted to do was sit on the couch, listen to the thunderstorm, and watch Modern Family reruns.  No sewing, not even a little.

New fabric, thread and ribbon
However, this morning, I woke up feeling surprisingly refreshed.  I got out of bed and got my ever shrinking big butt to the gym and ran for 30 minutes.  Ahhhh...that felt really good.  Honestly, it was a great way to start my morning.  The girls were in great moods and we got along famously.  We got along until I decided that I wanted them to eat dinner so the whole family could take a trip to Joann Fabric's.  That is when the cooperation ended.  I threatened to go alone but my husband insisted we all go together.  Once we got there, I got about ten minutes of pseudo alone time, meaning I could hear my children looking for me all over the store.  I bought two yards of fabric with the hopes of making combinations of pillow(s) and recipe card holders.  The recipe card holders are pretty little drawstring bags that hold...let's see if you can guess...recipe cards!  I was thinking this might be a good hostess gift, especially when bringing a dish or dessert to share.  Since holiday party season is not to far away, I thought I would test this one out.  

Still working off this morning's runner high, I decided after the girls went to bed that perhaps I should make another Pooh Bear pillow.  Being the self depreciation person that I am, I of course had zero faith that I could sew a pillow without my mom within earshot.  Yeah, I need to work on this self confidence thing because...I DID IT!!!!  While my stitches could still be straighter, the second is better than the first.  I guess it goes to show you, practice does make perfect.

Pinning the pattern

Still pinning

Latest and greatest Pooh Bear pillow on your left!

So soft!
Now, it is about 10:30 and I still have a runner high and pillow high and figured I might as well blog.  You're probably not going to hear much from me this weekend as I have little plans to sew, except maybe Sunday.  This weekend is our wedding anniversary and we plans to celebrate that don't involve a sewing machine and notions!     

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I am hoping that you can all tell from the title of today's entry that I successfully made a pillow.  Oh shucks!  I guess my title and first sentence gave away the conclusion.  However, if you don't read on, you won't know how I finished and you might miss out on a smile.

All day today, Mimi kept asking me, "Mommy, when are you going to work on your sew?"  I kept telling her, this afternoon when Grammy comes over.  So, we waited and waited and waited for our Sewing Guru, Grammy, to arrive.  Within minutes of arriving, Grammy is upstairs and put to work.  It turns out, yesterday's issue with the bunching thread was because when I threaded the machine, I did not have a tight enough tension as I was afraid of hurting the machine, if that is possible.  I guess the tension I was feeling in my body did not transfer to the thread, go figure.  Anyway, after a tutorial my mom got me all set up to actually start sewing the pillow.  I did not take any pictures of the work in progress because to be honest, I was so incredibly excited that I was sewing in a fairly straight line that I did not, could not stop.  My mom and Mimi sat upstairs with me.  Mimi quite often leaning over my shoulder, giddy with excitement, putting the pins away when I was finished with them.  I felt like I was participating in an Olympic event.  The pressure was on, could I do this, was I actually going to finish a pillow?  Yeah, yeah, you all know the answer because I already told you.
Mimi stuffing the pillow
I stitched the entire pillow and left an opening at the top so that Mimi could fill the pillow with stuffing.  Yes, I know, I can't take all the credit for this pillow, today it was team effort.  After the pillow was filled, my mom suggested pinning the pillow and adding a top stitch to create more of a border, she said it would be good practice.  And, I did it. My first line of stitches at the top of the pillow were not straight but the other three sides were pretty good.  Of course, Mom made me fix my mistake because you can't give someone a pillow with an uneven stitch.  Still, not perfect, but not bad.  Mimi was so excited she wanted the pillow right away.  But, I am a mean mom and won't let her have it until Violet's pillow is complete.  It just would not be fair and poor Vi would feel very left out.  Plus, I need a model.

Front of the pillow

Back of the pillow
As you can see from the pictures, the pillow is not perfect.  But, it was my first try.  It is the first time I have sewed on a machine since I was 13 years old.  I feel like I am experiencing a "pillow high" tonight.  I feel like there is a future for my machine and me.  Here is the thing friends, being laid off kind of put me in the dumps.  Sometimes life in general puts me in the dumps because in my mind, people are often successful based on job titles, salary, success in school, size of one's house, ect.  But, today I was successful because I pushed myself to try something new.  And I had to try and I have to keep going because I am accountable to not only to myself, but to my daughters, husband, Mom, and all my followers who have a little faith in me.  Yes, it is just sewing, but just trying sometimes makes someone a success.  And guess what?  I am not feeling sulky tonight and I don't feel like I have a lead weight in my belly.  And, I am 100% certain my in-laws will all be getting a pillow for Christmas this year!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Getting Started!

I was raised by a crafty woman.  My mother made me so many dresses, blouses, pajamas, and even little toys while I was growing up.  Most recently, she started making purses.  My mother owns two sewing machines.  One is at her primary residence, one is "up north."  However, even though she tried to teach me, I was never able to learn.  Oh, and my granny was a home economics teacher.  About two years ago, she was working on a quilt when I stopped by for a visit.  She asked me to help her lay out the quilt and then said, "Jenny, you are horrible at math so I am going to ask this question to Kevin."  Uh, thanks.  So, one would think that I would consult my mother before buying my first sewing machine, but I did not.  I was kind of hoping that I could surprise her with a complete pillow, but after reading the directions on how to thread the machine, I knew that dream was gone.

I bought a Singer Esteem Sewing Machine on sale at Target for about $116.00.  It was on sale just days after Kevin started pushing me to sew.  Maybe this was meant to be!  Initially, I was planning on buying a cheaper model but this one looked like it might be a bit easier to use.  

The next day, I decided to drive myself and two little girls to the sewing department at Walmart.  I hate Walmart for many reasons but since I set myself up to fail, Haberman's Fabrics did not seem like a good use of my money.  The shopping trip did not start out well.  Violet was apparently angry that my diaper bag did not contain a stocked pantry and refrigerator.  When I told her I did not have anything but raisins, she threw herself down onto the floor and had a temper tantrum.  Wow!  I tried to put her in the cart and rigor mortis set in.  Lovely.  Violet screamed throughout the store.  I was one of those crazy people at Walmart!  Finally, we made it to the sewing department and she her angry feelings toward me began to quell.  Instead, she was angry at her sister because they needed to AGREE on a fabric.  Finally, Pooh Bear was acceptable to both.  We picked out scissors, but of course not the right scissors.  The girls thought I should get purple, however, those were made for small hands.  Lord knows I don't have small hands.  They also thought I should get zebra print scissors however, we are on a budget and I don't spring for fashion.  We also got some thread, pins, and a pattern.       

The pattern I purchased is a "Sewing for Dummies" pattern but I am not convinced it was dumbed down enough.  I read it over and over again.  But, I pinned and I cut the fabric thereby getting one step closer to the ultimate goal of using the machine.

Tonight, Kevin took the girls out for a couple hours so I could have some uninterrupted quiet time while I learned how to thread the machine.  I am not going to sugar coat this, it took me a long time.  But, whenever I got a step correct, I gave myself a big Hip-Hip-Hooray!!!  So, the time came to finally lower that pressure foot and start stitching.  However, the pressure was on and I could not remember how I got the stupid thing up in the first place.  I actually started to sweat and ran downstairs to Google "how to lower your pressure foot."  The first thing to come up was a blog from some Australian woman who is a sewer extraordinaire.  Seriously, she sews some serious fashions.  All the other websites told me to consult my manual, as if I hadn't thought of that before.  I ran back upstairs and relaxed and repeated, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."  Sure enough, I remembered the stupid lever was on the back.  I lowered the pressure foot, put my foot on the pedal and started to sew my pillow.  But, the thread bunched up.  I started all over again, same thing, thread bunched.  This happened about five times.  I need my mom!!!  Fortunately, she is coming over tomorrow and I can ask for help.  

Once I figure out this small problem, I should be on my way to making a real pillow.  It may not be great, but I am trying, learning, and having a bit of fun.  That is all anyone can really ask for.  And, when the going gets tough, just call it a night and eat some ice cream.  


Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Anti-Crafter Crafts?

The other night, while reading the manual for my brand new sewing machine, my husband asked me, "How do you feel?"  I don't think he was exactly expecting this response, "I feel like a waste of human flesh."  It was a good thing he wasn't drinking anything because I think he would have spit it out all over our bed.  He tried to tell me this was not true and I have had many accomplishments in my life.  But, for the past month, I have been a bit sulky and my husband is not the sulky type.  He is the make lemons into the lemonade type of person and this is where our story begins!

On July 15, 2011, I received an e-mail from my boss that the law firm that I was working for was closing.  This was a huge blow for me for a couple reasons.  1.  It was an e-mail that I was not at all expecting.  2.  As a mom of two girls, I had finally found a job that was super flexible.  I worked at night, on Saturdays, and from home.  It is highly unlikely that I am going to find a professional gig like that again.  So, I applied for unemployment and was denied due to not earning enough per quarter.  Bummer.  Then, I applied for an adjunct position at the local community college.  I am not much of a workaholic, my identity is not tied to my job but I do kind of miss having a role outside my home.  This is where my husband's featherbrained idea comes into play.  

About a week ago, I met my husband in Boston for a mini vacation without our kids.  This is when he announced what he thinks I should do in my spare time.  He thinks I should make pillows and sell them online and at craft shows.  Here is how I respond, "Are you out of your freaking mind!  Have you forgotten that I cannot cut in a straight line, I cannot measure, I cannot sew, and I cannot craft."  He keeps telling me over and over and over again that yes, I can do this because he thought about for a long time.  Hmmmm....I think he has seriously lost his mind.  

After a compromise and reality check, I am going to set out on an adventure in sewing.  I am going to sew pillows as he suggested, maybe place mats, maybe a tote bag, maybe something else depending on how far my new found talent takes me.  At any rate, the title for this blog, Seven Hundred and Fifteen Pillows comes from the date that I got my e-mailed layoff notice.  Can I make seven hundred and fifteen pillows?  Can I make seven hundred and fifteen sewn crafts?  Or will it take me seven hundred and fifteen hours to make one stinking pillow?  Well, I don't have any answers regarding where this project is going to take me, but I do know, it will be a personal adventure for me.  If nothing else, this project will teach me to measure, cut, learn fractions, and follow directions - all the things my teachers had told me could use a little work.    

Stay tuned, my first project will be sewing two Pooh Bear pillows for two very excited little girls.