Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Supermarket Flowers

From the beginning of time, Grandmothers have been about being a child's soft place to fall.  The job is all about having a hand on their back as they figure out how to stand in this world. 

Because of the way life works, most Grandmas never know if they made a difference...

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Sew Expo Memories!!

This week is the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Washington.

Ahhh...those were some of my BEST Good Old Days.

I wanted to blog about Sew Expo, and I spent several very happy hours looking at photos from my Sew Expo days...

When I was doing the marketing for Sew Expo, I called it the BIGGEST SEWING PARTY in America. And it still is -- so HAVE A GREAT TIME, PEOPLE..!!

I will always remember that time in my life as the VERY BEST TIME. It was a life altering job for me. I made wonderful friends. And, Holy Cow, I LEARNED SO MUCH....

Mary Mulari introduced me to Joanne Ross, the Founder of the show. I can tell you exactly where I was standing in my kitchen (remember those 13 ft. telephone cords?) when Joanne called to invite me to be a speaker at The Sewing and Stitchery Expo...

The first year I went to Puyallup, I did my little seminar, "How To Dress With Style When you Feel Like Cher But Look Like Roseanne."   There were at least 1000 women in the room (this is how I tell the story)...and I was scared to death...

Joanne saw something in me -- and included me in some brainstorming sessions, which eventually led to the BEST JOB ANY GIRL EVER HAD...and everything good that has happened to me in my sewing industry professional life came from the people I met and the things I learned at Sew Expo.


Last year was Joanne's last year with the Sew Expo. So -- before this moment passes -- I just wanted to say this. Joanne, YOU CREATED A FIRST-CLASS, PHENOMENAL, WONDERFUL SEWING SHOW. Your show has touched tens of thousands of lives...and I will always be grateful and proud for any little part I played in it...

I've decided these pictures don't need words...

Monday, February 26, 2018

My Schmetz Valentine

I LOVE MY LIFE..!! I had such a wonderful Valentine's Day this year -- I just HAVE TO SHARE IT..!!
So, this room is decorated with Rat Pack paraphernalia -- that's got to be a great start, eh?
Ross is a BIG FAN of Frank Sinatra -- he would LOVE THIS PLACE!!
I'm in Chicago -- for a special Schmetz event -- and we're having a special dinner at Capri Restaurant
The next day was THE REALLY BIG DAY!! I started off in Rhonda Pierce's office -- admiring the last year's worth of Inspired To Sew magazine!!
I for me!! It is HARD TO BELIEVE -- but we've been doing the Inspired To Sew magazine for FOUR YEARS NOW..!! And it is such a great job for me. I get to meet the most interesting people you can imagine -- the cream of the crop in the sewing world.

In many cases, my friendship came before the magazine interview...Mary Mulari, Nancy Zieman, Eileen Roche, Gail Yellen, Joanne Ross...and, in many other cases, they became friends AFTER the interview. Mark Lipinski, Mary Fons, Angela Wolf, Jenny Doan, Weeks Ringle...well -- you can see it -- right...

I'm just sayin' -- I LOVE MY JOB..!!
And, on this day, there was Valentine Candy!!
A couple of executives from the Schmetz corporate office were in town to learn about what's going on in the home sewing industry.  AND THEY GOT AN EAR FULL!!
Of course -- WHO SET THIS FABULOUS DAY UP??  That's right -- Rhonda Pierce, Editor of Inspired To Sew Magazine!!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

North Carolina SHEETS

So -- given my obsession with bed linens...and my absolute inability to pass up a  $3 Supima cotton sheet -- how many sheets can one girl use?  Several years ago, I did a count.  (that job took a whole day).   I had 14 complete sets of sheets for a Queen size bed -- along with a massive collection of unmatched sheets, many twin, double and even King size sheets, along with a tub full of beautiful (but often single or mismatched) pillowcases.

Any normal person would think to themselves, "I need to stop buying sheets..."

Dammit...more evidence that I AM NOT NORMAL...


A couple of years ago, my cousin Jackie was having one of those lifetime experiences -- her son Ehren is GETTING MARRIED.  The wedding was gonna be in North Carolina -- so the family decided to rent a house on the beach.

Jackie's sister Linda and her husband Karl are driving from Iowa.  When she mentioned the fact that they had to provide their own bed linens, I offered to loan them some beautiful line-dried Iowa sheets for their beach house and this very special occasion.  HEY -- I COULD PROVIDE SHEETS FOR EVERY BED in the house!  It was fun to make up some "sheet packages" for the beds...
I fold the flat sheet, the fitted sheet, and one pillowcase.  Then put them INSIDE the second pillowcases.  It's an easy way to store your sheet sets...
I made up THREE sets of beautiful, 100% cotton, line-dried Queen size sheets...
And two sets for the Twin beds.
Good cotton sheets are HEAVY.  There was no way Linda could even carry the tub of sheets out to her car.  Imagine what the airline would charge for this suitcase!!
When Linda came to pick up the sheets, I gave a brief "how to fold a fitted sheet" demonstration. I have long been a fan of the Martha Stewart method -- putting your hands into the corners, then fold the sheet together. (I think she learned it from me...)

 However -- there could be an easier's the YouTube video to prove it...

Friday, February 23, 2018


Yes, Lois, I know....many of you would never walk into a thrift store to look for used sheets. You just want to go into a store and buy SOME NICE SHEETS. I get that. So I'm gonna go a little deeper...
And you're right -- it is NOT as easy as reading the information on the package...


Of course, you are looking for 100% cotton. But ALL COTTON IS NOT THE SAME.

It's just like saying 100% beef. You have Filet Mignon at the high end of the spectrum, and hamburger at the low end. Both are "100% beef"....but they couldn't be more different.

In the good old days, percale sheets were made from extra-long-staple cotton. That means the cotton fiber is 1 1/5" long. Those vintage percale cotton sheets are still beautiful today -- after 50 or 60 years. THINK ABOUT THAT!! So -- what makes them so strong and durable? They were always, always made from extra-long-staple cotton.

Right now, there are two different types of long-staple cotton: Egyptian Cotton, and Pima Cotton.

However --when you see the term "Egyptian Cotton" on a package, it really means nothing. It could just be referring to the country of origin.

Pima cotton is also an extra-long staple cotton. However, it represents less than 1% of the cotton grown in the world.


Supima® is the trademark used to promote American-grown, extra-long staple cotton. To bear the Supima® trademark, products must be sourced through a licensed supply chain.


In the old days, thread count meant something. You counted the warp and the weft threads in a square inch of fabric -- added that number and the sum was your "thread count". Muslin was a coarse fabric with a thread count of 128 = Economy sheets. The definition of "percale' was a thread count of 180 or MORE = Luxury sheets.

But, sadly, at this point -- "thread count" has turned into a complete bogus marketing scam.& They often claim a thread count of 1000 or more... REALLY??? How powerful is the microscope you'd need to count that many threads in a single square inch?

Because it's not extra-long staple cotton they're weaving, people!! It's spider web dust or dryer lint they gathered up and spun together...and those sheets are light weight and wimpy. When you sleep on them, they begin to pill...and they are TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE SHEETS.

So -- what thread count should you be looking for when you're shopping for new sheets? Before I answer that question -- I have to talk about one more thing...


In the old days, all cotton was created on a loom, using a simple satin weave. Fine cotton percale sheets were made from long-staple cotton strands that were woven over/under, over/under. The warp was the same as the weft.

THEN, with an eye to saving money by using inferior, cheaper, (think hamburger) cotton, they developed the "sateen" weave. Instead of an even warp and weft (a satin weave) -- the warp goes over one, and under four (or five or six). It is a way they can amp up the thread count...but, trust me -- this is NOT A QUALITY SHEET..

Although nobody uses the word "satin" in their marketing -- the ABSENCE of the word "sateen" is the best you can hope for. And a good quality satin-weave percale of extra-long staple cotton will have a thread count of 300 or maybe 400.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thrifting For Sheets

First of all -- Thanks, Marilyn, for your email about me hearing from IKEA. You could be right -- but it is most likely gonna be a Cease and Desist letter...

Now -- on to one of my favorite year-round pastimes...LAUNDRY.
To be more specific -- the laundering of SHEETS. There are many levels of joy in this for me...

First of all, finding beautiful cotton (or, hold your breath -- LINEN) sheets at an estate sale or thrift store, with a $2-$3 price tag is, on many days, reason enough, y'know?


Primarily because I know what I'm looking for -- I did write the book, people!!

So -- how can you know if that thrift store sheet is a beautiful quality sheet?

1. They MUST be 100% cotton (look for the required content label)
2. Good sheets are HEAVY...
3. Good sheets have beautiful finishing details.

What details am I talking about? Heavy gauge elastic on the fitted sheet, deep hems on the top sheet. Really expensive sheets will be hemmed on all four sides (as opposed to selvedge edges on the two long sides)

When I bring my thrift-store-treasure home, I immediately put them in my washing machine to soak overnight...
Actually, I have a whole sheet-washing-routine that goes kinda like this:
  1. An overnight soak in plain warm water...
  2. A second overnight soak with hot water and Oxy-Clean.
  3. A complete wash cycle with my usual detergent and hot water.
  4. A final, fourth full cycle, but with no soap -- just plain warm/cold water.
Are we having fun yet?? Really -- it's about to get exciting...!!

I never, N.E.V.E.R....never put my beautiful cotton sheets in the dryer.  The whole point is to hang them outside, on the line, so I get that wonderful, therapeutic, blissful aroma...ahh......

For whatever reason -- THIS is a moment I take great pleasure in.
This particular sheet (linen) had a dingy tone because it had been folded, in a Hope Chest, for probably 50 years. After all the laundering -- I hung it this way so the cotton would get FULL SUNSHINE...Mother Nature's Whitener!! It is a stunning sheet that went right into the rotation...
Of course, it's a lot more trouble to hang my sheets outside in the middle of winter...ugh...
But, since I have A LOT OF BEAUTIFUL SHEETS -- I let them pile up until we get a nice day. Then, if we get a sunny day, I'll wash three or four sets. Even on a cold day, with full sun, I can get them "mostly" dry (its okay if I have to bring them into the house and finish them off on the clothelines in the basement -- they still smell GREAT).
But, at least once or twice a year, I have to shovel a path under the clotheslines (because the snow is so thick, the sheets will drag on the snow.)
That's okay...its a small price to pay for those line-dried bed sheets.
But, always, by this time -- February...the winter has been long and cold and the snow is ugly and gray and hard...and I long for the change of season....