Friday, September 30, 2016

Rockford, Illinois

Sometimes, a thing becomes special just because of it's infrequency. Thanksgiving is like that. Because you only stuff that turkey ONCE A YEAR -- it is a very big deal. Depending on your life and circumstances, sex can be like that. Or a beach vacation...or, eating popovers...well, you get my point.

In my life, there are many "once a year" occasions I look forward to.

Spending a day with my college roommate, Becky, is one of those annual events. She lives in the Chicago area -- so we're three hours apart. We agree on a day (usually late in the summer) -- and I pick a town. There are a lot of interesting little towns in the State of Illinois.

We've been doing this for years now...and it is always, always one of the BEST DAYS of my year.
Several years ago, Becky turned up with a new convertible!!
One year, we met in Dixon, Illinois...we laughed we talked, we ate lunch, we caught up with each other's lives..
Last year, we went to the Barb Wire Museum in DeKalb, Illinois.
This year -- there was the added benefit that she was DELIVERING my new Singer Featherweight (and TABLE)...
Becky and I met  at the Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum.  -- the most unusual house museum I've ever visited...
Robert Tinker was a gifted artist, and when he married the richest widow in town (possibly one of the richest women in the country at the time) -- his place in Illinois history was set in motion.
So, what made this house museum so unusual? And where did all the money come from? How was Abraham Lincoln involved?

And -- of course -- there was that scandal...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pocket Pillowcase Steps

There are many different ways to sew a pillowcase.

THIS PARTICULAR method is about making the most of a beautiful vintage flat sheet.

So, it's all about taking advantage of the already beautiful finished hem.

Or, you can do what LP did. Use the vintage sheet, make the pillowcases, and then add a decorative stitch.

With this method -- you rip the sheet into long pieces, then basically fold the piece and sew the two sides to create the pillowcase.

The finished pillowcase has a decorative hem on ONE side of the pillowcase...and a pocket on the back side of the pillowcase.

Here are the basic dimensions to yield a pillowcase 22" wide by 30" long: (customize to fit your own pillows)

24" wide by 66" long. (one end will be the decorative hem -- the other end will be the 6" pocket).

1.Sew a folded 1/2" hem at the plain end, then fold a 6" pocket to the inside.
2.Fold the fabric in half (wrong sides together), sew both sides.
3.Turn the pillowcase (so the right side is on the INSIDE) -- sew down both sides for a second time, enclosing the raw edges.
FINI. Turn again! PERFECT...right??

I did such a crappy job of explaining this to my TMBC -- most of them ripped it as many times as they sewed it. SORRY...

One of the problems is that a vintage white sheet doesn't have a discernible right or wrong side.

So -- at our next breakfast -- I used a printed stripe fabric to create some scaled down step-outs to actually SHOW THE STEPS...(and how to get that damn pocket folded correctly!)

Does this help??

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Featherweight Pillowcase Sew-a-long

The TMBC recently got together at LP's house to do a Featherweight project. I had a vintage line-dried cotton sheet for each member, and they ripped them to create at least three new pillowcases...

First of all -- a word about OLD cotton sheets. The fabric these sheets are made from is far superior to anything being sold in stores today. Made from genuine long staple cotton, in a true percale weave of 180 threads per square inch -- the fabric is crisp and smooth and a DREAM to sleep on.

Flat white cotton sheets lost favor with most housewives in the 60's as they embraced the much more festive printed poly/cotton sheet sets, which always included the new fangled "fitted" sheet.

Consequently, those beautiful white flat sheets, often made from the highest quality Pima cotton, languished in trunks and closets for the last 60 years.

Which is why I find them ALL THE TIME at estate sales or excellent condition...and I rarely pay more than $1.
This is my idea of a "pattern"...
I had to assure everybody that RIPPING the sheets was the only way to go. It's impossible to cut a 108"straight line with a scissors -- and the grain of these sheets is PERFECTLY STRAIGHT....
LP had her home set up for our latest Featherweight adventure...

Of course, we ha to start off with breakfast!!
There was an ironing station...a cutting station...
In trying to explain how to do the french seams -- there was some ripping out...(by some, I mean everybody did it.)...
But once you got it right -- those french seams and the back pocket make for an INCREDIBLE ELEGANT PILLOWCASE...
That pocket just screams luxury linens, don't you think?
I had a newly Franken-sewed dress...(with one large asymmetrical pocket)
My pattern was not clear, and because there is not a discernible "right" or "wrong" side to vintage cotton, some of my friends had a little trouble getting the french seam right. That was my fault, and I decided to make up some scaled-down samples...(more tomorrow)...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Double Trouble

No matter how you look at it, twins is a phenomenon. Something special. Quite spectacular and unusual.  
If not for the Clairol intervention, these two are identical. (to me, anyway)...
Their mother, Linda -- otherwise known as "LP" -- long ago developed the habit of making two of EVERYTHING...
So, when we started making the blocks for the Splendid Sampler, LP did TWO versions of every block...
Her girls finally figured it out -- that she is making TWO quilts -- one for each of them.
So now it's no secret.
Recently, TMBC had the rare pleasure of a guest appearance from the twins.
So, of course, I had to whip out my favorite table game -- BANANAGRAMS.
Using TWO sets of scrabble letters, we had a rousing session of TWINS BANANAGRAMS.
I think Kim and Whitney invented this game. At any rate -- I learned it from their mother, and she learned it from them. So, of course, they kicked our butt.   No surprise of them runs a library and the other one runs a courthouse...

It was AN HONOR to be beaten by these masters...and I wanted to make sure they knew how wonderful I think this game is. I now pack my old Scrabble letters in a little zipper bag no matter where I go. Lilly and I play it in restaurants, at the dentist office or the is a quick, easy, fun way to entertain children and pass the time.

Monday, September 26, 2016

My Reading Recommendation

Of course, technology has taken my enjoyment of books to a whole new level -- and I love, love, love listening to books when I'm driving my car. And, since I live in the middle of a corn field -- THERE IS A LOT OF DRIVING...and I learn something new with every mile.

Also, I always have a book going when I'm sewing and/or doing laundry (these two activities always seem to be happening at the same time.)

Last week, I listened to both of these books. And I wanted to recommend them to my friend Gail Yellen. So THIS IS ME DOING

 Linda Lavin was the narrator, and I cannot imagine a better voice to be the Boston Girl.  The story of a Jewish immigrant family living in Boston.   Told as if she was being interviewed by her granddaughter.  It covers most of the 20th Century.  This was so well done!! I loved it...(you will, too, Gail!)
I must have been on a New England kick because the second book I listened to last week was about Salem, Massachusetts.
This story is  told by the ten year old daughter of Martha Carrier, one of the first women to be hung. The author, Kathleen Kent, is a seven-generation granddaughter of Martha Carrier, so this is based on her family journals and history. It is a true story, based on facts, and it is horrifying.  Although beautifully is almost painful to read.
I can't imagine a life without books.  Both of these books made me cry...and maybe that's a good measure for a book, eh? 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Library and Grandma Camp

I got an email from my library the other day telling me I had 15 things checked out. Wow. In the old days, I used to limit myself to 3 at a time. That was a good was easy for me to keep track of 3 things...what happened to that simple rule??

OH -- that's right -- GRANDCHILDREN. Of the 15 things, there are 6 CD books for me, two regular books (also for me), four picture books for Warren, a CD book for Lilly and two DVD movies that we all might enjoy when they spend the night.

(Some summer movie favorites: Fly Away Home; the Karate Kid; the Goonies; Pan; We Bought a Zoo; Dolphin Tale; Zathura; Because of Winn-Dixie)

In the interest of fairness -- I use all the branches of the Scott County Library system. I AM THEIR BIGGEST FAN. I have always loved to read, and I have developed some excellent reading habits which I want to pass on to my grandchildren. I consider it a gift I am giving them -- a love and comfort with books and libraries and the people who work there. When we stop into the little Princeton Library branch -- dear Dawn says, "Hello, Lilly!"...or "How are you today, Warren?"

This year, my library card became a powerful partner for Grandma Camp!!
Of course, we went to the library every week, and did the normal things people do at libraries...
And we also checked out a lot of CD books, Lilly enjoys anything with a DOG in it!!
But -- this summer -- my library launched a new program. Teaming with some local venues, I could "check-out" a laminated pass (on a lanyard) that was good for FREE admission to the Putnam Museum, the Figge Art Museum, the Botanical Center and Niabi Zoo. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

Our first outing was to the Figge Art Museum.
Warren does EVERYTHING Lilly does.
There was a special Wizard of Oz exhibit this summer.
This is Lilly, using our special Library Pass to go to the Botanical Center...
One of our BEST days of the summer was our trip to Niabi Zoo.
The pass was good for two adults and four children. (that's a $45 value)

It was a GREAT day!!
Sitting in the butterfly chairs, Lilly said, "I'm flying."  Warren said, "you are not flying, Lilly." And she replied, "it's called using your imagination, buddy..."
It was sooo hot that day...but we did not miss a thing.  Lilly loves animals so much, we had to meet every single resident.
And Warren was just happy to be with Lilly ...

Friday, September 23, 2016

My Second Featherweight and Ritaluck

To review, my sisters Ronda, Deena and Deborah ALL have purchased Singer Featherweights. As a matter of fact, Deena bought two of them in the same week...and Deb, too.

Deb's second Featherweight came WITH THE FOLDING TABLE...So I guess I thought I was missing something...

But, me buying my second Featherweight -- AND THE TABLE -- was a complicated process. THAT INVOLVED A GOOD BIT OF RITALUCK..

I saw this listing on ebay:"Singer Featherweight with table. $325. Pick up in Wauconda, Illinois. Will not ship. "

One of my problems is that I cannot bid on ebay...(let's pretend it's a religious choice I've made.)
So -- my cousin Jackie (who lives in North Carolina) actually BID ON THE MACHINE for me. And I GOT IT!!
The next thing I had to work out was how to pick it up. Humm. The town of Wauconda is about 3 hours from where I live. Certainly not impossible....although it would be a long day of driving for me.  But, as Ritaluck would have it, my good friend Becky lives in Mundelein. Which is only 10 minutes from there!!

And,  even MORE RITALUCK (that's how it works) -- Becky and I ALWAYS GET TOGETHER in August. I usually pick a small town in Illinois -- so we both drive 1 1/2 hours to the rendezvous point.

So, the day after Jackie was the winning bidder -- Becky met the guy in a Dunkin Donuts parking lot, with $325 cash.  (this must be what its like to do a drug deal, eh?)

The next week -- Becky and I met up at a small town on the map -- halfway between our two homes.
Three months ago, I didn't even KNOW there was a folding table!!  And doesn't Becky look terrific!!
AND here's my second Featherweight. Born in December 1950...and she is a gem. Perfect in every way.(notice my new purse, Gail Yellen...)
I bought this machine with very little information -- I didn't have the serial number, and there was only one bad photo of the machine, sitting on top of the table. I couldn't tell if there were any accessories, or even a bobbin case. But, of course, because of Ritaluck -- I WAS NEVER WORRIED. The machine was perfect -- and everything was there. All the accessories were in the original cardboard box...including the bobbin case.

The next day, I was anxious to take her apart, and do an oil and lube...and she purrs like a kitten.  That little Featherweight clickety clack I've come to know and love...

And I already knew what her name was.  Jackoby.  (my two friends who brought her to me...Jackie and Becky.)

Jackoby and I are about to go visit John's family in Pennsylvania.  THERE WILL BE SOME SEWING, people!!   I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Orphan Train

When I remember to sign up -- I love attending the Scott Community College Luncheons. They always have a speaker, usually on a topic of local interest. The most recent lunch was titled "The Orphan Trains". 

I'd read this book -- and was fascinated by how the Orphan Trains came to pass...
The EXCELLENT speaker was Amanda Miller the Curator of the Geneseo Historical Society.
The room was packed. They often get 300 people...
Amanda had a lot of historical information -- and many of the orphans ended up in our area.
The Orphan Trains ran from 1854 to 1929. There were so many homeless children in New York City and Boston -- it was a crisis. With no birth control, women had ten or fifteen children, and women often died in childbirth. Newborn babies were left in parks or doorways because their mothers could not provide for the children they already had. Even with the establishment of "foundling" hospitals and orphanages -- thousands of small children were living on the streets. It was not unusual at the time to see ten year old child prostitutes. Their living conditions were appalling -- and the Children's Aid Society in New York decided it would be a good idea to round them up and send them out to the Midwest -- for fresh air and a possible new start.

It worked like this -- posters would be put up in the towns where the trains were scheduled to stop. People would come to the station on the appointed day, and the children would be herded off the train, and lined up for inspection. The biggest boys were taken first -- and they became free farm labor. The adorable blonde babies were taken second. And the red headed little girls were always the last to go.

As it turns out, the Midwest hated the Irish just as much as the city folk did. The newest immigrants to America at the time -- the Irish children were discriminated against, and were chosen last, or not chosen at all -- then sent back to the city.

IF the Midwestern family sent their Irish orphans to school, the other children were merciless in their degrading treatment, and nobody thought much of it at the time. Coming on the Orphan Train was something a child was very ashamed of -- and when they grew up -- they never spoke of it. So their families never knew about their bleak beginnings.

The Children's Aid Society had very little ability to check on the children after the families took them home. Some of the children certainly did find a better life, and they grew up in loving homes, cherished by their new families. But others were abused and became little more than slaves. One farmer was allowed to take three boys before anybody figured out he beat them and worked them to death.

As each child got on the train, he/she was given a new outfit to wear, and a pair of shoes. In many cases, this was the first time the child wore shoes...
This woman is holding the dress her Grandmother wore in 1923, when she came to Clinton, Iowa on the Orphan Train...
My selfie -- me and Amanda. She was SO INTERESTING -- and is writing a book about Orphan Trains.
Everybody wanted a picture of that little dress...
The numbers aren't really known -- but it is estimated that at least 250,000 children were put on Orphan Trains. To new homes in Pennsylvania, upstate New York, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, etc.

It was shocking to think about the seemingly insurmountable problems of society at the time. Thousands of homeless children living in the streets...because of no effective birth control, parents dying young because of epidemics and no medical treatment.

The children had no hope for a better way out. I think -- THANK GOD for the Orphan Trains -- but then, I think -- shame on those foster families for discriminating against the Irish children...

But I like to focus on the positive side of things...and isn't it wonderful that we have solved most of those problems. Via effective birth control, improved living conditions, a better understanding of how disease was spread. Thanks to science, common sense and simply a desire to make things better -- we live in a very different world today.

Right? Then, I wonder if today's immigrants are still struggling with the same hatred, fear and prejudice....

So, Amanda Miller -- job well done. You made me think...