Jean sews through social isolation

The orders to stay home during the pandemic shut down the sewing group at Marrable Hill Chapel as it did at many others. Stacks of fabric, boxes of thread, bags of lace, rick-rack and bias tape sat idle on shelves. A few members of the Thursday afternoon sewing group had taken home projects to finish before the next week’s sewing. The quarantine kept us from going back.

That did not bother Jean Tedford. She pulled fabric from her own stash and kept on stitching.

When I talked with her, she had finished sewing a few pairs of shorts and wanted to sew little dresses to put in the Operation Christmas Child boxes. Considering her health conditions, I went to church, pulled fabric for dresses and grabbed lace and trim to deliver to her to supplement her fabric.

It wasn’t enough. That woman sewed up a storm! Every time I talked with her, she said she needed more rick-rack, fabric and lace. She turned simple sun dresses into party dresses.

Every dress had coordinating borders, ruffled lace and/or rick-rack. “I am running out of these colors of rick-rack,” she said after she finished 20 dresses.

I sorted through my notions and those at the church. It wasn’t enough. I checked at the fabric section in town. No sewing machines, racks of thread yawned with empty spaces. Fabric included Halloween leftovers at full price. The demand for homemade face masks and other medical sewing projects had cleared the shelves.

Back at church I pulled more fabric. The Union County Extension Office and El Dorado Connections received fabric donations for volunteer projects such as the face masks. I collected bundles of fabric and shared them with masks makers who sewed and donated masks. I looked hard and long at some beautiful yardage. “Would it be okay if we used some of this to make dresses to give through Operation Christmas Child boxes?”


By the time I delivered the fabric, Jean had completed 35 dresses. Her eyes glowed with pleasure. “Oh my!” she said and began matching strips of complimentary colors with the bigger pieces. “I need more rick rack. I don’t have these colors.”

Maybe not the colors but she did have a heap of dresses in various sizes covering her couch.

Desperate, I put out a plea for more rick rack on Facebook. Debbie Langford and others pulled a pile of rick rack from their stashes.

Jean sighed happily and sorted colors.

I packed up the 52 dresses to take to church until we packed OCC boxes.

A week later, we chatted, “So how many dresses have you finished now?”

I have seven more done.”

Wow! How many do you do in a day?”

Ohhh, I can make about a dress and a half in a day,” her eyes twinkled.

You must be sewing all day.”

Well I was a bit tired Sunday, so I didn’t do any,” she said regretfully.

It is okay take a Sabbath rest,” I assured her.

She agreed, but her mind focuses on the stacks of fabric laid out, cut and awaiting her. Jean imagines little girls’ happy faces when they receive the pretty dresses. “I wish I could be there and see it,” she sighed.

Marrable Hill Chapel originally had a goal of over 100 dresses for this year’s boxes. I thought the quarantine would kill our goal.

I thought wrong. With no other activities to attend, Jean’s days of avid stitching guarantee we will have enough. Hurrah for Jean and her sewing machine. She is making it happen while staying at home and keeping healthy.

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The hard part of mental illness

My cousin’s first hint of something amiss began with daily long distant phone calls filled with angry rants. The parents on one side of the country looked at each other with astonishment and concern as their son once again dumped his rage on them from his side of the country.

They carefully asked, “have you been taking your medication?”

“I am fine. I don’t need any medicine. I am doing just great.”

They knew better. His postings on Facebook and phone calls validated their concern. He ranted about the police stopping him. He ranted about his pets being removed from his property when he left them untended while he communed with nature for a few days.

“I love my dog,” he protested.

He quarreled with the authorities. He had not crossed the line that made him a danger to others or himself. Not yet, anyway. His parents knew his actions and words threatened his health and his freedom. They could do nothing.

His brother and sister traveled across the nation to bring him home. He was not there. One of his new friends assured them, “He is a great guy. I did not realize this was happening. When I see him, I will try to persuade him to take his medicine.”

The family waited. They prayed. They wished he would renew his daily angry phone calls, “At least then we knew he was alive. He has never been this bad before. He has always said he would take his medicine so he wouldn’t get this bad.”

The hardest part of mental illness have wrapped around my cousin’s family. Mom, dad and siblings might go about their routine life and look normal. They aren’t “normal.” They hurt. They want their loved one safe and in his right mind. They don’t like even the thought of potential encounters with the police who are simply doing their duties of maintaining order. An arrest could be devastating for their son. In the past, doctors said an incarceration could possibly trigger a psychosis so deep that he would never recover – not even with medicine.

It hurt to read my cousin’s Facebook postings. I prayed, and I recalled our own family’s mental health crises. For one of our sons, three hospitalizations in as many months and an arrest for disorderly conduct followed months of insufficient medication. A court order for regular shots of Haldol to calm the mind left him able to hold a job and return to a semblance of normality. It took a couple of years before the doctors again prescribed modern medications. A decade later, with sufficient medication, the doctors made a rare declaration “Your illness is in remission, but keep taking the medicine.”

For another family member, we were stunned when the nurse at the psyche ward said, “We are arranging for a room at a long-term care facility.” She predicted we would visit him about once a month.

We visited and listened befuddled with the word salad he spewed.

Did the doctors really say, “No improvement expected?” My world slumped into discouragement. Modern medication had failed.

Time did not fail. Through the months, his mind calmed and he slowly realized his options. He chose to leave the facility and live closer to family. His choices since then have not always been ideal but he takes his medications and manages.

As I read my cousin’s post, I prayed for my cousin. I prayed for an intervention, a return home and that their son would regain his mental health. I pray that he accept the medicine and realize anew the depth of his family’s love.

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The no sleep night

During quarantine, Mother’s Day looked rather glum until I read my daughter’s Facebook posting. I well remember this test of motherhood on a sleepless night with my youngest child.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom. Probably the most accurate depiction of the type of mother she is happened when I was a Freshman in college. It was finals week of my spring semester 2000. I was worn out and ready to come home. I had researched for my Comp 2 paper, but I could NOT get words on the page.

I called my mom at 1:30 a.m., crying hysterically. “Mom, this five page paper is due at 9 a.m. I’m never going to get it done. If I don’t turn it in, I’m going to get a ‘C’ in the class.?” She calmly advised, “Start typing. Get the intro. Just start on it. You can type fast. Call me back in 30 minutes, and tell me about your progress.” So I typed through bleary eyes but with a renewed sense of purpose. I didn’t want to disappoint my mother, who is a writer.

At 2 a.m. I called and reported, “I have almost a whole page!” She said, “Great. Keep going. See if you can get to the beginning of page three. Call me in 30 minutes.” I didn’t get all the way to page three, but I called her anyway at 2:30 a.m. The carrot of achievement was JUST out of reach, but I knew I could do it. She was cheering me on 4 hours away, phone in her hand, probably fully awake by now. That went on all night. I would call with a progress report all morning until I had a finished paper. I had a friend help me edit quickly at 8 a.m., and I turned it in by 9 a.m. I didn’t get an “A,” but I got a “B+”… pretty good considering my VERY late start on that essay!

At the time, I went on with my day, and sort of forgot that my mom stayed up all night with me. I told the ridiculous story of how I had stayed up all night to write that paper and still managed to get an “A” in the class. When I look back at that event 20 years ago, I know my mom is the real protagonist: the one who swooped in to save the girl who was stuck, doomed even. My mom was fine with my remembrance of that story. She didn’t correct me. She didn’t need a “thank you” or a huge “shout out.” She was just glad I called her. Her delight is to serve behind the scenes.

This is my mom. She is humble. We are polar opposites, but I STILL want to be her when I grow up. She gave me a strong voice by allowing me to speak freely. She gave me confidence by never/rarely warning me of the “what ifs.” Her attitude was, “of course you can do anything you set your mind to. Keep at it.” She never makes me feel guilty for my failures; she just shrugs and changes the subject after my verbose confessions or sneaky misdeeds. She taught me forgiveness as I watched her learn how to extend forgiveness toward people who had committed heinous acts. She never views anyone as a “throw away person.” If I ask for help, she gives freely, but she rarely insists I do things her way. She waits patiently and is always available.

Mom, I could go on. I won’t. I know you prefer succinctness over rambling thoughts any day. I love you. Happy mother’s day.

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Carrot cake

Carrot Cake recipe from Cook’s Illustrated magazine Jan-Feb. 1998 edition

2 pounds of carrots grated fine (makes about 7 coups … a food processor saves a LOT of time grating and scraping knuckles.)

1 cup plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

5 eggs

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

20 ounce can crushed pineapple drained (or if you only have chunks or rings, drain and put them through the food processor.)

¾ cup toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts

¾ cup raisins steamed with a bit of water in microwave (this plumps them up a bit, drain the water.)

Mix separately and set aside:

2 2/3 cups of sifted all purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

Sift and stir all together and set aside.

Toss grated carrots with 1 cup of the granulated sugar in a colander, set it over a large bowl. Drain until one cup of liquid has collected. Takes about 20-30 minutes. I do this first and then proceed.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over a medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Cook until golden brown. Takes 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool 10 minutes.

Whisk in the remaining granulated sugar and brown sugar.

Add eggs one at a time, whisking thoroughly before adding: vanilla, flower mixture and stir until combined.

Mix in the carrots, the drained crushed pineapple, nuts and raisins.

Pour into 2-3 inch pans that are greased and floured. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. (I like to let the cake settle in the pans, maybe even overnight.. Invert cakes and remove from pans.)

Cool and frost with tangy cream cheese frosting

1 pound softened cream cheese

1 stick butter softened

2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon sour cream

Mix cream cheese and butter completely. Add confectioner’s sugar and sour cream. Beat until smooth and then another 2-3 minutes. Frost cake.

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More face masks

Prompted by the COVID-19 threat, my sister sent a face mask pattern. She said that face masks reduced the spread of a virus outbreak in Asia. She stitched a few masks for herself and friends. I looked at the email. I printed out the pattern. I left it on the sewing table.

My son asked if I would make a few face masks for himself and some friends. I gathered fabric, elastic and a simpler pattern to make the masks requested. I even made face masks for my husband and myself.

Then I stopped. Few people wore masks. It felt suffocating. Debates sprang up over the efficacy of masks. Masks helped. They didn’t help. They made things worse. I did not feel compelled to sew anymore until I received an email, “The nursing home requested face masks for residents and staff,” I sewed. I passed along the request to others with sewing machines and skills. We made a couple of deliveries.

A newly initiated Facebook page “Sew You Care” popped up on my computer in March. The page coordinates fabric, elastic, and volunteer sewists with requests for masks.

“I finally completed 100 masks in one day.” I read with astonishment.

“I am so tired, I am taking a break for a day and sewing a quilt.”

Pictures showed ironing boards lined with neatly stitch masks with elastic loops or hanging ties.

Fabric offered in New York was shipped to a seamstress in New Orleans. The finished masks returned to New York to protect elderly members of the Seneca Tribe.

Eight weeks into the project the administrator of Sew You Care announced the official tally. “We have completed 100,000 masks.”

In Lancaster, Pennsylvania near my son’s home, he said, “I saw a road side stand selling face masks on the way to an appointment today.” His daughter told him of two others.

Someone asked, “When will we have enough? When will the crisis be over?”

I wondered the same for Union County. Cheryl Splawn at El Dorado Connections fielded additional requests for clinics and nursing homes. I made up another batch of face masks. My husband delivered them.

Not everyone can afford to sew and give away hundreds of dollars worth of fabric. Lauren McGarrh at the Union County Home Extension Office announced fabric had been donated specifically for volunteers to use in making face masks.

Not everyone could afford to work for free. With lay-offs, folks with the skill and machines, stitched and sold colorful face masks.

A friend asked for a couple face masks. No problem. I knew the drill. I finished the masks in an hour. I felt good about my speed until I watched a video of man sitting at an industrial machine whipping out a mask in less than five minutes.

Individuals depleted their personal stashes of fabric working away on machines day after day. They Celebrated their secret power, “I can sew face masks.”

A tired seamstress posted, “When will the need end?”

“When the clothing industry realizes the need,” I wrote.

Within days I read reports of a national chain store selling its stock of face masks at one store in 15 minutes. Ads began popping up of other clothing stores offering face masks for minimal cost.

So while the COVID-19 may last for another year or two, I anticipate an increasing availability of inexpensive cloth face masks. Those sewing at home can see a glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel of stitching. It’s not here yet. It’s coming. For now, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your labors and keep on stitching.

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Hershberger Hippies

I never intended to form the “Hershberger Hippies Cub.” However, with three Hershberger family members involved in falls resulting in a broken hips, the club is here for good.

In January, I slipped in mud, did a sideways split, fell and did not get up. My folks always said, “You’re tough. It doesn’t hurt that much.” The EMT said “Take the pain killer – at least before the x-ray. You will need it.” I took the medicine.

In the ER I visited with my husband and friends and ignored the television. The surgeon came, “I’ll do surgery in the morning.”

The staff put my leg in traction. Such a relief.

A day after surgery, my feet hesitated to step forward. My daughter came and cheered me on. We talked about rehab. By the third day, the nurses thought I could manage home and out patient physical therapy. It only took six weeks for my injured leg to respond when the physical therapist (PT) said, “leg lifts while laying on your back.” Six weeks I grimaced, gritted my teeth and tried to lift it. The PT lifted the leg. My husband lifted the leg. I made a long strip of cloth and lifted the leg. Finally, the leg slowly, shakily moved on its own. It took more energy that I would ever have imagined and exhausted me.

About that time, my 74 year-old brother-in-law David called from his hospital bed in Wisconsin, “I had an emergency total hip replacement.”

“Why?” my husband asked.

David said he pushed back his office desk chair to stand. Somehow he tangled with an open drawer, the chair and the floor. He knew that something would break, and it would not be the floor in his home office on the second floor.

The emergency medical technicians had a high rising cart that hoisted him out and down the stairs with little jarring of his broken body. Of course, he fell during the COVID-19 shut-down so his only contact with family and friends came through the phone.

I knew he had to hurt. He said nothing about the pain. He assured us his regular exercise and bike riding routine would speed his healing and have him back on his feet quickly. He spent a week or so in rehab, learned how to use the equipment, move around safely and went home to heal.

That was in March. A couple weeks into April we received a phone call from 52 year-old son Timothy. He was miserable, laying on the stretcher in the emergency room waiting for a reading of his hip x-ray. He had missed all five steps attached to the patio before hitting the concrete slab.

Remembering the long wait in the ER room after my x-rays, I said, “it might take a while for them to be read and decide what to do.” Since he also, was in the hospital during the COVID-19 shut-down, his daughter dropped him off at the ER door and left.

A couple days after surgery that put his bones back together, he took his first shuffling steps with a walker. A week later he went alone to rehab to learn to cope with his situation and begin exercises to renew the use of the injured leg and hip. “It hurts. I have a lot of pain,” he said many times.

“I know. Take your medication. Do your exercises. It will get better.” As the founding member of the Hershberger Hippies Club, I speak from experience. I like clubs, but I am closing membership in this one. I think we need a Hershberger Coordination Club to teach graceful, safe movements to avoid falls.

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Covid-19 and the Internet

During this time of widespread closures and slower pace of life, we are allowed, even forced, to watch how differently individuals and governments respond to the time’s uncertainties.

The email request for face masks sent me scurrying to the sewing room. Cheryl Splawn of El Dorado Connections said that local clinics and nursing homes had asked for volunteers to make face masks. I had already sewn a few requested by family members. I could sew a few more. I joined the Facebook page “Sew You Care” with hundreds of others focusing on one thing: face masks. The Facebook page coordinates people sewing with requests for masks, discussions about supplies and the number completed by individuals. Can you believe one woman has completed 1,000 masks?! I cannot begin to try to match that number.

Quickly the supply of quarter-inch elastic disappeared from stores as completely as did toilet paper. Since each mask only requires a small piece of fabric, most seamstresses began sewing with their fabric stash. Quarter inch elastic, however, is quite another issue. My cousin in Pennsylvania called and asked if I had any. Friends called and asked. I shared what I could. Then Debbie Langford called to say she had cut t-shirt material into stretchy strings for masks and made ties using bias tape. That same solution flooded Facebook sewing sites.

Through this time of social isolation, of mandates to stay at home in order to reduce the possibility of expanding the problem, Facebook and other social media have kept us informed and connected. Locally, “COVID-19 Support for Union County” along with “Plastic Sign Suppliers” keep us informed of businesses still open with curb service. Plastic Sign suppliers presents community blasts of businesses needing a boost in southern Arkansas region.

COVID-19 Support for Union County Facebook page carries local updates on the virus and more. If you have a yen for a restaurant meal, the page has menus and hours for curbside service. Need services for the elderly? Check their list of contact information. Even though I do not consider that I qualify, my children and the retirement check says I should study their list of senior hours for grocery shopping.

I assume businesses are closed. Not necessarily. Check the Facebook pages or ads in the El Dorado News-Times. Plenty of shops still provide services.

Other Facebook pages even answer my question, “How did this all work during the 1918 flu epidemic with no Internet, no television news updates, radio still in its infancy and phones not yet a household necessity.” Yet, they managed.

Here in the 21st century, social media allows me to talk online with my family as a group, thanks to Zoom. I watched choir members sing individually as a group from their homes. Marco Polo recorded video updates with my St. Louis and Little Rock families.

Messages, texts, and phone calls have kept me up to date with family. Technology is not without its drawbacks, though. The conversion to online education has challenged many mothers and fathers. Through Facebook I have caught a hint of the frustration with the increased demand on the technology.

I enjoy the updates from my families. I roll my eyes when misinformation floods the Internet with the day’s spin on the causes, cures, crises and conspiracies of the Covid-19 pandemic. As much as social media helps, the full picture will only be told through the eyes of history. Only time will tell if school closings, graduations canceled, businesses failing and staying home was the solution. I comply, and while I wait for the “all clear,” I pick up fabric and return to my sewing.

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Tooth Fairy

After reading the following on Facebook by Gordon Bell, I asked his permission to share it with my readers. He graciously agreed.

My daughter lost a tooth last week. She gets all jacked up about losing teeth because she knows the Tooth Fairy will come and leave her bucks. She grabbed a Zip-Loc baggy and put it inside her pillow case.

Then she begins doubting the tooth transaction.

“Daddy, I am a little confused about this tooth.”

“Whatcha mean, LauraGrace?”

“I have had this tooth for a few years, and now the Tooth Fairy is going to come and leave me $10 or $15 for it. That is not much money for giving up your tooth. I will never see it again, and it has been part of me for a long time.”

I am thinking that she has this Tooth Fairy thing figured out. Fellow students convinced her last year that Santa was not real – that it was her Dad. She boo-hooed for about an hour over that.

I offered “Baby, you never know what the Tooth Fairy is going to bring. But, $10 is a LOT for a tooth. I used to get 25 cents on a good day for a tooth”

She then snuggles into bed. I panicked a bit because I did not know if I had any cash in my wallet.

Sweet Mary, mother of our Lord, I have $11. Two fives and a dollar bill. Saved!

I put the two fives in the baggie, and very carefully lifted her head to place it back. She remained asleep. I hid her tooth in the tooth jar up on a top shelf and behind a bunch of stuff I will never use and don’t really know what all the stuff is.

The next morning I heard her stir, but nothing more. I went to the bedroom and she was all “humped up” on the bed.

When LauraGrace is sad or angry, she “humps up.” Her shoulders jut straight up and her head squats down between the two shoulder humps. It is unmistakable. You cannot see much of her head.

I sit down beside her. “What’s wrong? Bad dream?”

She points toward the end of the bed. I get up and go to the end. On the floor I see a crumpled-up Zip-Loc baggy.

“Laura – there’s money in there!”

She is really sulled up. She looks away with a jerk.

“OK. What is wrong? Tooth Fairy came and saw you.”

After several moments, she replied “It’s only $5. I gave up part of my body for $5, and I will never see it again.”

Before I thought I said, “No, Laura, there is $10 in there.”

“How do you know? You haven’t opened it. I didn’t open it because all I saw was $5. I am not giving up that tooth for $5.”

I threw the bag to her. She pulled out the money and saw it was $10.

“Well, I knew you had $11 in your wallet last night. So I knew I’d get at least $10. I was so upset when I thought it was $5.”

She had researched everything.

“Dad, you just proved all this is fake. You just proved there is no tooth fairy. There is no Santa Claus. It’s always been you. Why did you try to fake me out all these years?”

I was speechless.

“I’m good with the $10 for the tooth. So where are you hiding my teeth?”

With no constructive, positive way out of this, I surrendered her teeth to her and called it a day.

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If you promise to paint …

“During spring break we will paint your room,” Sharon and Jacob promised their daughter Caroline. Brother Eli asked to have his room done as well. The little sisters’ bedroom was painted last fall.

They shopped for paint and found a dark gray “mistint” paint return that Eli wanted in a five gallon can that cost $35 instead of the usual $200. Caroline had picked out a lighter shade of gray. They bought white paint to mix with it.

Spring break began early as schools closed for social isolation. “I knew we would be home at least two weeks. I went to the store and got a bunch of stuff for painting,” Sharon said. At the store, she met a friend who mentioned how easy it was to scrape ceiling texture. Originally my daughter was just going to paint over the popcorn texture on the ceiling because “scraping it off, would be a lot of work.

“Oh, it is easy to scrape a ceiling,” her friend said. “Just use my steamer, scrape and it falls right off.”

Sharon borrowed the steamer and tested it on a corner of the ceiling. It did not just fall off. “You can’t test it without scraping the ceiling some, so I had to do all the rest of the ceiling,” Sharon said. She finished the ceiling, cleaned the mess and proudly posted a picture on Facebook.

A friend noticed and warned “some popcorn texture has asbestos in it.” That scared Sharon. She took a sample to be tested. If it had asbestos, the carpet would need to be cleaned.

It had two percent asbestos which is high enough to be concerned.

“We are getting new carpet,” Sharon told Jacob. Good-bye to the worn carpet that came with the house eight years ago.

“If we get new carpet, we are done,” he said.

“We ordered carpet on Thursday. They said it would be at least a week and a half to two weeks before they could lay the carpet. In the meantime, I painted Caroline’s ceiling, repainted Eli’s ceiling and the walls. We mixed white paint into the gray for Caroline’s room.”

On Monday, the carpet company called, “are you ready for carpet today?” They had had a cancellation.

No. But Tuesday would do. Sharon realized, “If we are putting new carpet in our bedroom we need to paint ceiling in there first. Plus, since I want a different wall color, we need to paint the walls before the carpet arrived.”

Eli helped her move furniture. She painted the bedroom ceiling. Jacob bought the new wall paint. After work on Monday, Jacob said, “If we are getting carpet on the stairs, we should go ahead and paint the stairwell ceiling and walls.”

They mixed more white paint with the five gallon bucket of grey and painted the walls in the hall and stairway.

“I may as well do the bathrooms ceilings,” Sharon decided. The old paint crumbled as she painted.

At 9:30 p.m. Monday night, Jacob said, “I guess we better scrape these ceilings before we get the new carpet.”

They worked past midnight scraping and thoroughly cleaning the bathrooms.

“It all had to be done before the carpet came to avoid long-term exposure to asbestos,” she said.

Painting the ceilings exposed broken fixtures. They installed new light fixtures.

Tuesday the carpet men installed new carpet in four upstairs bedrooms, hall and stairwell.

Once all the furniture was replaced, Sharon walked into her room, looked at the old comforter and said, “We need a new comforter that matches the walls.”

That’s what happens if you promise your daughter you will paint her room.

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Sew many ideas

Sewing items from yard sales overwhelm my sewing room. Occasionally I acknowledge I must get rid of something. That’s how I recently met two lovely ladies.

First I met a local seamstress who alters and sews clothing. For her, I opened the door to my sewing room excess when she wanted two large spools of cording that I no longer needed. She came, she saw, and she cleared off nearly a shelf of fabric while we talked stitchery.

I could make dresses for the little girls,” she said holding up fancy fabric.

Please do take all of it. I don’t know how to work with that type of fabric.”

I pointed out yards of muslin I purchased years ago thinking I needed it for quilting. I never used it. “Some people use it to make dresses before they make a dress. Do you need it?”

She lifted it off the shelf, “Yes, let’s make this the total,” she said as she heaped it on her pile.

I might be getting rid of that thread holder and thread later,” I said. “First, I need to sort what I do want and need.”

A week later, I sorted and sent her a message. Yes, she wanted to buy it. I said I would bring it to her shop. I wanted to see her machines and stash. She put the thread holder beside another thread holder I sold her earlier and proudly pointed out her industrial machines, sergers and store of all the sewing notions, fabric and project ideas that any shop needs to have on hand. She had back-ups for her back-ups. Which makes sense when she is sewing late at night while the repair man is sleeping.

And this saves my back when I have to pin up the hems of slacks,” she said pointing to a heavy wooden platform. “The men set it up when they come.”

I left her shop, inspired to get into my sewing room – as soon as we checked out a “Picker’s Sale” on the other side of town. We arrived too late for the best choices. Still my stitching eye zeroed in on a few items, including a package of old fashioned cloth diapers in the original package. It brought to mind all the baby showers with cute burb cloths made using pre-folded cloth diapers with a colorful strip of fabric added for fun. I could do that. I tossed them in my pile.

At home, I picked them up, looked at the dozen projects on my shelves and decided to list them on eBay. “Vintage, still in package BirdsEye diapers.” A lady in Virginia bought them and wrote, “A great find for my vintage collection!”

I responded, “I found them at a picker’s estate sale. I never heard of collecting cloth diapers. How many varieties do you have?

“I have many vintage baby items. I found a lot at antique shops, flea markets, and yard sales. I really never knew so many different varieties and styles of cloth diapers existed until I got to looking on Ebay. The ones I purchased from you are the only ones of that style I have ever come across. I have at least twelve different varieties so far. It just makes me smile and feel calm. I used cloth diapers on my children when they were babies. … collecting just takes me back to a more peaceful, less hectic state of mind.”

So I didn’t make the projects planned. I did make a couple women happy and caught a glimpse of a few of their favorite things.

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