Making a Shirt

Sometimes, when you can’t find things to buy that are just the way you want them, it is better to make it yourself. I find that to be true with most shirts and dresses. I haven’t been sewing much over the last few years, but I have plenty of patterns, material, thread, zippers and buttons. They are all part of my storage, along with a sewing machine that can be used with electricity or with a treadle. I have everything I need to make most garments without going to the store. All I need is the motivation, and time. I have two store bought shirts that I like to wear that are comfortable, fit well, and are long enough for my taste. I am tall. After a while, you get tired of wearing the same thing over and over, right? So, it was finally time to make a few shirts, my way.

I started this shirt a couple of months ago, but set it aside, a couple of times. When I got back to sewing, it only took a few hours to complete the shirt, all except the button holes. One reason I put off finishing the shirt was that I had not made button holes on this new machine. It doesn’t have the button hole attachment that pretty much makes them for you, so I hadn’t sat down long enough to practice and learn how to make them. It’s easy to put some things off that require a little more time and effort, isn’t it?

Sewing is something I watched at my mother’s knee as a young girl. I would sit beside her and watch as she made my clothes. What a blessing this has been my whole life. Not only did I benefit from the clothes she made, and the time I got to spend with her, I learned that it’s easy to make things for yourself. Little did she know that she was teaching me a very important aspect of being self-reliant. Then, when I was about 12, she took me to a Singer sewing store during the summer for sewing lessons. When we were sewing in our Home Economics class in high school, the teacher threatened to give me a speeding ticket for sewing too fast. Most of the girls were just learning to sew, but by then, I had already been sewing for three or four years and had made a number of outfits.

After sewing for so many years, and having a machine with a buttonhole attachment, I figured this machine would be like the old Montgomery Ward I originally had, that my mother gave me, that she made my clothes on. You had to manually create the buttonholes and it was a little difficult. Boy, was I wrong about this Necchi. These were the simplest buttonholes I have made in 40 years. And to think I kept procrastinating because I thought it would be difficult. You have heard of paint by number, right? Well, this is buttonhole by number. You start at number 1 on the knob and when you get to number 4, your buttonhole is finished. It takes less than 30 seconds. Amazing.

We invested in this machine a number of years ago because it can be used with electricity or with a treadle. So far, I have only used it in the electric mode. It is a very sturdy, commercial grade machine. It mends jeans with a breeze, much easier than my Kenmore. I have been very pleased with the ease at which it tackles the tasks I have given it. Originally, I wasn’t even going to mention it in this post until I made a buttonhole. Even if you have never made a buttonhole in your life, you can with this machine. It’s that easy.

So, now I have a new shirt and the motivation to make a few more. I have everything I need in my ‘sewing room’, which also doubles and triples for a few other things. Sewing, mending, knitting and quilting supplies are part of our everyday storage. Over time, I have collected quite a few buttons. Some were on sale, some are old and have been passed on to me from relatives, like my mom. Any time I want

to sew a new project that has buttons, Frank and I get out the canister (yes, I have some sewing supplies like buttons and zippers in a canister set that I don’t use in the kitchen), and we pour out the buttons and find the ones we like the best.

You see, Frank and I do everything together. For example. Even though he is our radio communications man, he still talks to me about it all the time. Through those conversations, I learn a lot. Even though I don’t use the HF radio to listen to stations around the country and in different parts of the world, when he does, I am usually sitting about 15 feet away, listening.

The more you can demonstrate to your family, the essence of being self-reliant, regardless of the task, the more they will internalize the endless possibilities of independence. Children are never too young to learn, even if they are just sitting by your side watching. Just knowing that someone else, someone important, can do things on their own, brings on a self-confidence that cannot be taught by words or writings. Share with your family and friends those things that you know how to do that will foster their self-reliance and self-confidence. You never know, it may just change their life.

Until next time – Fern

Milk Straining Cloths

We have started using cloth to strain our milk instead of coffee filters. This is for two reasons. One, eventually, we will run out of coffee filters if the time comes that we cannot buy anymore. Two, there is a time in our goats lactation cycle where the milk will hardly go through the coffee filters. I don’t know if it has something to do with a change in the milk solids at certain points in the cycle or what. But it gets to where it will only go through the filter a drip at a time. The purpose of filtering is to remove any particulates that may be in the milk from the milking process. So, we are making a small change in our routine.

Part of this idea is from a recent post by Patrice Lewis over at Rural Revolution. She explained her milking routine and when she came to filtering the milk, she explained that she uses old sheeting material. With that information, we made the choice to use some scrap fabric I had in the sewing room. 

We compared the size needed to fit on the funnel we use and determined we needed to cut 8 by 8 inch squares. Well, I made up one of those, but it was too small. I didn’t take into account that I would be taking up some of the width on both sides of the fabric as I hemmed it. What I needed were 10 by 10 inch squares.

I did a simple hem all the way around. I folded under about 1/4″ the first time, then turned it under again to prevent raveling. 

This sewing machine was one of the things we invested in when we pondered things we would like to have if we no longer had access to electricity. The great thing about this machine is it can work on electricity or the treadle. And it is a commercial grade machine to boot. It can

sew through denim jeans or thin cotton fabric with ease. It is a dream to use. One thing we did discover though. If we had to depend on the treadle, we will need to be in better shape to continuously pump it up and down for long. If that is the case, maybe there will be someone with younger legs that can have that chore.

Fabric is also something we have extra of for a rainy day. There is nothing like buying things on sale at a fraction of the regular cost. You never know when it will come in handy, like for milk straining cloths.

So, now when we milk, we add the straining cloth to the boiling water when we pour it over the jar, funnel and clothes pins. Then it is ready for the milk. 

We feel good about this small change in our routine. It is something that will last a long time and can replace a disposable item that we were depending on. That is good. I just love learning new things!

Until next time – Fern