Monthly Archives: June 2013

Life with Trigeminal Neuralgia

After five years my daughter still asks me “what is the name of your awful thing”?  She is referring to Trigeminal Neuralgia and it is awful, but it has changed my life in so many ways.  My Neuralgia began in an atypical way, when a firework came back down from space and hit my eye. Many years, surgeries, 12 MRI’s and kooky neurologists later,,,,,I am alive.  Different but alive.  This disease pulled everything I knew out from under my feet.  My job, friends, way of life–they all ended.  But I feel like that nature show that describes what happens after a forest fire.  The earth is charred, knotted and black and somehow a miracle happens and shoots of tender green struggle past the decay to find sunlight and fresh air.  Slowly but surely life begins; it looks and acts differently but it is life and it is cherished.

I struggled for years hoping the surgeries and treatments would work and I have finally realized that I can still hope for this pain to subside but I must live FULLY in the meantime.  I credit cognitive behavioral therapy, a great pain med doctor and the love and support of my family whose faces I see every time I want to quit.

I will not write often about the pain (part of CBT) but if anyone needs to chat about dealing with this, I will be happy to help.


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Happy Feet

In the hours spent looking at sewing tutorials I have read many comments about specialty feet and how afraid everyone is of using them.  I love my walking foot (for stretch fabrics) and ruffler foot (as mentioned in my “Patterns that work” post) so I wanted to share this post so that others everyone else can take advantage of these ‘happy feet!’  The photos will be showing the walking foot: here is the deal, yes they are $30-40 but if you plan on making more than 5 knit apparel pieces in your life, the foot will pay for itself in saved material and frustration (what is that worth?).

Here we go:20130618-102625.jpg

I am using a ball point needle as suggested by the many sources I researched BUT I still get puckering across grain despite adjusting tension!  What I will show you below is the installation of the WALKING FOOT.  Used by quilters to move multiple layers with ease BUT is also a gem when using a material with stretch. Why?  Because this large and (soon to be “un”) intimidating foot instantly creates a set of feed dogs on top of the material thus pulling it up and working in synch with the needle to stop those nasty puckers!

The star of today’s post:

20130618-102744.jpgThe walking foot.  I am using my fancy chopstick pointer to show you one of the two important things to know about this foot, the bracket that will wrap around your sewing machine shank and screwed on. (Do not worry, I will explain below.)  The second thing to note is the long, white piece to the right of my pointer running parallel to the foot.  This is the part that MUST be placed above the needle screw in order for this foot to work.  See, the needle screw moves up and down each and every time a stitch is sewn. This bar above  the screw is essential…it allows the foot to work in concert with the lower feed dogs and of course, the needle.

20130618-102710.jpgThis is my (horizontal shank) machine.  My regular foot has been removed.  Take your foot off and look at your machine, locate the screw and find the screwdriver key that came with your machine or a screwdriver as we need to unscrew this grey piece called the “foot holder”.

20130618-102728.jpgThis is my machine without the foot holder.  KEEP THE SCREW HANDY as we will be reusing it for the walking foot.  The first time you do this, you may ask for an extra pair of hands just to ease the comfort level but it is certainly not necessary.  Grab your foot, screwdriver and screw…..

20130618-102759.jpgOk, remember the two things that are important to installing this foot?  I am pointing (top third of photo) to the long white shank.  Hold this shank with your right hand and the bracket (first picture) with your left hand.  If it seems tight lower your needle slightly so that the needle screw is also lower and there is space for this shank.  I think this is the part that seems really awkward at first, but do not worry.  With the shank above the needle screw move the foot around to make sure the bracket is around the foot holder, see just behind my needle?  Let go of the foot with your left hand (still holding on with the right) and grab the screw.  You may need to make minor movements with the foot so that you can see the hole for the screw–it will be in between the two brackets of the walking foot, let’s look-

20130618-102815.jpgI am now screwing the foot on my machine and if you look at the top third of the right edge of the photo, you are able to see that shank above the needle screw.

I still use a ballpoint needle for knits and watch my tension but you are going to see an immediate difference.  Grab a scrap of knit, if you are a bit freaked out, put the speed on slow and just try it.  In my experience this foot transforms knits into a regular woven cotton.  Here is my test sample from above and you will notice a nice, EVEN stitch below my first try… this is the walking foot stitch!

red knit

YEAH, that’s what I am talking about!!  Happy?


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Patterns that make sense- Part Two

When I found this beautiful Versace cotton and silk blend, the pattern really took me by surprise and I thought it would be properly showcased in the dress form of Laurel by Colette.  I decided on (under) lining with a silk georgette.  Because the pattern design, I decided against sleeves.  One of the options I really liked is the small ruffle neckline but I simply could not manage to baste and gather the length necessary (it kept shredding).  So….I went on a scavenger hunt for a ruffler foot.  It is a weird, clunky foot that looks intimidating but really is not.  Just like the walking foot, the bar has to go under the horizontal needle screw.  I will do a post on this later, for now I have a pic of it on my Flikr account “notesonaneedle”.   I slipstitched the arm & neckline binding as well as the hem.  It took a bit more time but it really was worth it.ImageImage

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Patterns that make sense- Part One

In March I was searching for a tutorial on binding and found Colette Patterns.  I ended up spending several hours on the archives and had to pull myself away about 2 a.m.  I was tempted to print them all out for fear of not being able to find them again, or maybe they would take them offline??!  Silly I know but I am a really visual learner and it seemed that every pattern I tried up until point needed to be translated in the reverse.  I ordered the Laurel and did print out the PDF on all the wonderful variations.  Their sizing was perfect so my first Laurel shirts were fun and easy to make, I love the ruffle sleeve option.


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Summer Floral

I used a beautiful new knit that had caught my eye online but was delighted when it came in the mail.  There is nothing better than having a package delivered, knowing what is inside and just waiting.  The longest I have gone is four hours.  I place the package in a prominent spot and go about doing my chores and by the time I open it, I can not contain my excitement!  I should get back to business…this is a Sewaholic 1201 and is fitted true to size.  It can be done in a very short time due to the bands on the sleeves and hem in lieu of binding/facing.  I wore it to a summer market and had a spring in my step!floral

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The heartbeat of my dog

My Sophia had a vet appt today and everything started going wrong when the new tech came in and said “we will take her now”, I thought and then I said “take her where??”  We had always been in the room with the vet when she examined our Sophia but maybe they changed policies, maybe they were crowded and did not have the room.  My daughter and I shrugged it off until fifteen minutes later when the vet personally brought our dog in and said we might have a problem.  Ok, it turns out her heart rate was 220 or something crazy and normally it is 180.  Chest x-rays were discussed, goldens have a propensity for heart problems..all sort of things started to swirl and then the doc said to have us comfort her for ten minutes and she would check the rate again.  We lugged all seventy pounds distributed evenly on our laps, started sweating and eating hair.  The next check found a much lower heart rate and the musings of the entire staff.  They had never seen separation anxiety take the form of an extra 40 heartbeats per minute….now that is


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The journey begins

I started sewing a year ago.  It was a tank top pattern (inspired by this awesome girl on you tube that talked about how to take your measurements and develop a pattern) and white knit.  I Had no idea that there was a grain and my 50/50 chance of getting it right did not go my way.  It gave me a puzzle to solve and I realized that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  I read for three weeks.  I studied the Mood product page to read and re-read the fabric types.  I went to the box stores to feel every bolt I could get my hands on and started buying some samples.  I did not know at the time that my second project was utilizing some of the hardest to sew material you can get….a tissue weight stretch knit.  I spent almost three days trying to understand layout and cutting.  I sprayed a couple of pieces with stabilizer and must have gone overboard because they were hard as a rock.  I am going to attach a picture of this, first shirt since it makes me smile.  I really have come so far and I love that I have so much more to learn….

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