Friday, October 30, 2015

How to Mend Blanket, Pillow, Sleeping Bag and More BLIND AND WHIP Stitch

I  would have thought that I would have posted about this long ago as I use the "Blind Stitch" for so many things. Maybe, since I have shown a few of my girls how to do it, I assumed I had posted about it before.

This is probably one of the best things to know for mending and hand sewing. If you look at the top photo, I should have closed the hole a little but you can see that you don't see the seam or the stitch thread on the pillow. 

Every pillow and many quilts I have sewn, I do this blind stitch once you stuff the pillow form inside the shell or cover fabric. You could sew in a zipper but on a tight cover like this one, you wouldn't want the bulk or the zipper showing so it really isn't the best option for covering a simple inexpensive pillow. 

With the sleeping bag, since the rip was on the inside, I didn't worry about doing a blind stitch and also didn't worry about the color of thread since I wanted you to be able to see what I was doing. Hopefully, in the video you can understand what I was trying to convey but if not, I will try to write it out for those that can't watch videos. 

First, pick your thread color and needle. For the thread, you can use embroidery floss which may be cheaper and give you a better match for your project. Just use one or two strands of the six floss strands to sew with. 

If the fabric is tight weave you want a smaller needle. If it is looser like the pillow at the top, you can use a little larger needle. You don't want to have to "re-thread" your needle so get enough thread on there to go twice the distance of your hole so you don't run out of thread as making a knot and trying to start again can show through. 

When starting with the whip stitch, start on the inside of the fabric where the knot won't show when you are finished. Then, pull the thread through to the outside. Don't pull it too close to the frayed or ripped edge or the thread will pull out and you will just make the rip bigger. Give yourself just about 1/8th inch on the side of the rip. 

Put the needle down into the other side of the rip and back up the opposite side. You can pin both sides together making it easier to go through both fabric edges at the same time. This is a good idea if the rip is uneven on the edge as you don't want to get ahead of yourself on one side of the rip and end up with more fabric on one edge than the other kind of like buttoning your shirt in the wrong button hole so you have a bunch hanging down on one side.

Continue in this way until you have finished sewing the hole and you will have thread and mending showing but it if is on the underside of a blanket or inside of a sleeping bag, it really won't matter. Tie a knot at the finished edge and then use the needle to pull the ends of the thread through to the inside of the project as you don't want to cut the thread right at the knot or it can come undone very easily. Never cut the knot at the knot. 

For the "Blind Stitch" like at the top on the pillow, start the same way with the same amount of thread and starting with the knot on the inside of the project but on this, you need to fold the rugged edge over into the inside about 1/8th inch and put the needle facing the opposite end of the rip right through where you folded the fabric. Just pick up about five or 8 strands of the fabric and then pull. I show this in one of the pictures. Go to the opposite rip edge, fold it under about the same amount and put the needle in on the fold and pick up some strands and pull. It starts to look like you are lacing your shoe. Don't pick up only a few strands as the thread can rip through them causing a hole. 

Don't go down to far before picking up more on the opposite side or you can have a gap. It is harder to pin this one ahead of time as you need to be able to get into the seam and fold to pick up your next stitch. I would say to practice on something you don't care about or some scrap fabric before working on something you really like so you can get the feel of how this works. 

I pulled open the seam on the red pillow so you could see how the threads look like shoe laces. Once you have repaired the hole, make a knot as close to the finish project as possible. Don't cut the thread more than 1/2 inch to the knot. Once the knot is made, carefully use the tip of the needle to "push" the knot through the fabric so it is on the inside of the project. You don't want to create a hole but just gently pop it through and no one will know you hand sewed it. 

Please feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Washing a Down or Feather Sleeping Bag, Comforter, Pillow or Feather Bed

I found some down sleeping bags at a second hand store for $4 each. In the past, I have paid up to $20 for used down sleeping bags. I snagged the entire lot of them when they came out except one or two that looked like they had seen better days. 
I gave a few to a woman who needed a few more out of my cart as I am always willing to "share the wealth" when it comes to good deals. I also got a few for my sisters family. I kept four or five for my kids. 

These are the newer wide base bags not the tighter claustrophobic mummy old school bags. We have many of those but they are so hard to move in that some of the girls don't like them for that reason. When I saw these fuller "mummy" bags, I was so excited. There were spots on all where they had been mended or "patched" with iron on patches but the ones I kept for myself were the ones in better shape. 

I have about 6 bags that I have purchased over the years that are more of the traditional "mummy" bags and I learned the hard way how to wash them. 

I was told that you needed to wash them in a tub. I went camping using my dad's expensive mummy bag and when I got back, it smelled very much like a fire so I threw the bag in the tub and tried to hand wash it. 

It was soooooo heavy and nightmarish to try and ring and dry that I figured I did more harm to the bag that just throwing it in the washing machine and much less back ache and work. 

Other times, I went to the laundry mat and threw them all in washers and the washers there were worse than mine and ran out of warm water. So, I figured I would just try washing them at home. I have done this now for 20 years and have had great results. 

As you can see by the picture at the top, the bag came out fluffy and clean. This is how it goes every time. I fill the washer tub with warm water on a medium water load setting as I only wash one at a time. Once the tub is full, I put some type of "oxy" cleaner in and some liquid detergent. DO NOT use powder!!! It will get stuck in the folds or leave a white chalky residue in places. I learned from experience on that one many years ago. 

Also, make sure you check out the bag for any rips or holes as you will end up with a washer full of feathers! Unzip the entire bag all the way. If you don't, the inside won't get washed. Even when I do this, there are sometimes dry spots as the bag gets twisted and not all parts get washed well. 

This bag I washed today had some iron on patches. This can be rough if you use hot water or a "hot" dryer as they can sometimes come loose. Other times, they just come loose with age or water. I suggest NOT using iron on patches for any type of blanket or sleeping bag as they can also irritate the skin when sleeping. Mend any holes prior to washing. 

When putting the bag into the water in the washer, make sure you put it in evenly around the agitator. If you don't, it will ball up and be uneven and will cause your washer to dance when in the spin cycle. This is another reason you unzip the entire bag so that you can put it in the washer evenly. 

I use the longest wash setting so it gets as clean as possible.When you take it out of the washer, inspect it again. One of the iron on patches came off while in the washer so I had to stitch it up before putting it in the dryer. If you don't, your dryer lint trap will fill with feathers causing it not to be able to "breathe" and it takes much longer to dry. You may also have to clean out the bottom of the washer collecting all the feathers. With looser weave fabric on some feather blankets, pillows or feather beds, you will have more feathers but the weave and thread count on these sleeping bags is quite good so I only had about five feathers in the washer after I removed it but there was that tiny hole as well. 

I stitched up the hole, (check out tomorrows post for how I did that) and then stuck it in the dryer. It will smell like a hen house full of wet chickens for a few hours until the item dries. It doesn't matter what feather item I have washed over the years, they all smell the same when wet. I have washed my share as every bed has feather pillows, blankets and mine has a feather bed and several down blankets. I am a feather freak. I LOVE sleeping on a could of feathers. Even my homemade sleeping bags for myself and all the girls are all down! They are the ones we take for inside sleepovers. 

When drying them, don't use the hottest setting as the outside of the bag can get very hot as it gets twisted up. I use medium heat as it tends to dry it fine without the really hot that makes the zipper burn you when you take it out. I also use a handful of dryer sheets as you can see in the picture below. This tends to make it smell better and ward off bugs when camping as dryer sheets have that effect anyway.

Make sure you clean the dryer vent before putting the item in the dryer as they take a long time to dry. A comforter usually takes 2 hours or more depending on if you pull it out every 20 minutes and unwind it as it can get twisted leaving wet spots. A sleeping bag is about three hours in the dryer. 

The good thing is that you don't have to wash them much. I have seen where people make sheets for the inside of their sleeping bags by sewing up a sheet into a bag and then inserting it into the sleeping bag so that you can just pull the sheet bag out of the sleeping bag and wash it each time saving you from having to wash the sleeping bag. It is a great idea but I just usually wash the sleeping bags every year or so. We only use them camping once or twice a year in the trailer so they don't get all that dirty. 

I was VERY happy with how the bag came out but I am always happy with anything feather that comes out of the dryer warm and fluffy. Two of my favorite things! Once again, before starting the dryer for the second run, make sure you clean out the filter or air vent screen. 

I forgot and with this item, it wasn't an issue as you can see after 2 hours, there was only one or two feathers and some lint. However, I have washed pillows or blankets that have shed LOTS of feathers and like I said earlier, it is due to the quality of the fabric used on the item or if you missed stitching a hole you can have LOTS of feathers in the dryer vent or clean-out.

I think the girls will be happy with the new sleeping bags! We'll just have to wait until next Easter to find out! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The DIY (Do It Yourself) Guide To Pruning

The past few weekends, I have been working in my front yard. I have been cutting off branches from my poor nectarine tree. It got some black hornet insect with black wings and it destroyed my favorite tree. 

My neighbors have all been in mourning over the loss of my tree. I got not fruit on it for the past two years even after I poured poison onto the roots hoping to kill the insects larva that truly killed off the tree. 

I cut almost the entire tree off but couldn't bring myself to cut off the one living branch. 

Princess four was helping me that day and jokes that I made a "Horten Hatches and Egg" tree. She keeps telling me that I need to make a "Horton" to stick in the tree. It would be funny but I don't have the time. 
I then cut back one of the flowering plum trees significantly since my little long boarding friend skates past, especially now that I fixed my sidewalk.  

In this post, you can see her ducking to get under the branches of the tree. I took care of one hazard but made another by fixing the sidewalk allowing her to "zip" along where the low hanging branches could cause a problem. 

So, the one side of the tree looks rather bare but I had to do the same with the other flowering plum at one point so I know I can "train" it to fill in the holes in a year or two. 

This past weekend, I finished pruning the front plums and the actual plum tree. I mentioned in this post, that I fell this summer and landed on my left knee and right arm. Since that time, my right shoulder has gotten worse and worse. Sometimes, I can't lift it past my elbow height. 

Saturday, being in the trees on the ladder holding power tools for hours, by Sunday, I could hardly move my arm. I was leading the music in our church meeting and could only slightly move it. 
Later, I was trying to drink something with my right hand and had to use my left hand to lift the right arm up to drink and didn't quite make it and dripped down my front. This disturbed Princess Five who gave me a weird look and I explained that I couldn't move my arm.  

I am hoping that it is just me overusing it lately and that it will heal if I slow down some and start using some oils on it. Princess Five rubbed some on a few times when it acts up and I am grateful she is willing to do that.

I look at my yard and I still have three fruit trees to prune, windows that never got washed last year that need it much worse now. 

Garden beds all around that need cutting back and cleaning, poison the weeds, wash the garage door and apply another coat of teak oil for good measure, edging the grass all around the front and back so it will look good all winter and I never did get to cleaning the vinyl around my picture window that is still redish from the calcium and red clay that blows from the hills. 

There is always plenty to do and I try to get the main outdoor stuff done when it is warm out and when I have the garbage cans as I fill them every week and can't do more until garbage day. I am also trying to "make" Christmas presents due to finances and I'll be posting about some of those soon. 
The girls all know what they are getting so it isn't a surprise but I want to post videos as they seem to get more views than just a blog post so I am trying to be better at making instruction videos as I think my girls would watch those over reading my blog posts but it is a transition for me. 
Since I have so many posts on how to prune, I will link you to one here but I needed to post the video about how to prune so I figured today would be a good day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Not Our Month For Phones

There are days in my life where I sometimes wish I were independently wealthy. In all reality, I can't complain. I am truly blessed to have what I do have. 
However, my experiences buying used phones leaves much to be desired and I flash back to a day in my mind when the Orthodontists wife came into the cell phone store with a wad of cash, about $2000. 

She purchased the newest phone available with the largest memory, several very blingy cases, car chargers, screen covers, etc. She paid with her wad of cash nearly $1000. 

Her husband came in, gave her a kiss and asked her how it was going. Frankly, we would have loved her old phone without the bling but we were there to hook up an old flip phone I probably purchased at a second hand store for Princess Two who had just returned from a mission and was having health problems and ended up with surgery. We were just happy to have her get a cell phone. 

I have not had the best of luck purchasing smart phones used. I purchased a used droid for Princess Four a few months back only to find VERY intimate pornography on the phone even after I asked the woman I was purchasing it from if she had removed everything off the phone. Click here for a post about that. 

I purchased one for Princess four before that phone and the people swore it worked and I spent two days on with customer service trying to get the stupid thing working. I ended up giving her the phone I purchased for me as we were visiting her at college and I didn't get much visiting in going to the cell store and on the phone and on line with no luck. 
When I called the people back to get my money back, they said they had already spent the money but would sell me another phone for another $50. I figured I would lose the original $50 if I didn't take the new deal. Well, the phone hasn't been all that great as the camera is HORRIBLE and blurry on the front. Not sure what happened there but I have to take pictures with the back camera if I want anything clear. 
So, $50 and a few months later, Princess Fours phone stops working and gets stuck on the opening droid "eye" until the battery drains. We were on with customer service for hours. We gave her Princess Two's old flip phone but she had no contacts as the phone was too old to hook up online and retrieve numbers. 

I find her an old Samsung online and now we had to get it to her and today she was able to hook it up. Keep your fingers crossed that it will work. 

I read up online that droids have a problem getting stuck on the start up screen so some suggest that you take out the battery. I follow some youtube videos on that only to snap the connection from the battery to the terminal. Guess that wasn't the best idea but the phone wasn't working and we had done all the resets possible with the phone providers. 
Then, I purchase Princess Five an iphone 4s today for Christmas as someone said they had a 16 gig for $75. I thought that would be her main Christmas present but wanted to make sure it works so we hook it up only to find out that the wifi doesn't work. Doesn't even show up. 

Two hours on with customer services with no positive results they suggest we upgrade our itunes. I don't want it slowing my computer so she installs it on her laptop and then upgrades the phone which they assured her would fix the problem. NOPE!!!! 

THREE a.m. I am once again inputting her information into the stupid thing and once again, wifi doesn't show up. 

I google search it as I did with the driod only to find out that EVERY 4s has problems with a bad antennae and I could heat the phone up to about melting point with a hair dryer and then stick it in the freezer for a few minutes in hopes that it will start working. OR, I can pull the entire thing apart pulling out part after part to install a new antenna in the phone near the headphone jack. 

I don't want to do either thing and for $75, I would rather have her put in another $75 and get a 5 that doesn't seem to have that problem.

My droid has been freezing lately as well and perhaps we just have a "phone ghost" sending us Halloween pranks. I hope the woman that sold me the iphone will take it back as I had it less than 4 hours and it never worked. She gave it to me with about five minutes of battery on it and no cords. Should have been a sign.... 

On a happy note, Princess Two's iphone 5 has been working great!     

Monday, October 26, 2015

Game Room Wall Decor Dream

I had a weird dream last night. As you know, some of my dreams are very real and come true. This dream however was interesting in that it was about decorating. 

I don't know that I have had a dream where I am decorating a room before. In the dream, I was using antique game boards on the wall, framing them and hanging them in a mix. I framed the top of the box in some cases. 

I made the frames myself to fit and the wall was actually really cute. I have been collecting antique games for a year or so as I have all the girls moving out and I want to make the "school house" room, into a fun "sleep over" room for grandchildren. 

Here is a link to that room when I first decorated it. Since Princess Four will be taking her "collection" at some point, I thought it would be fun to have antique games on the shelf with some old school toys that I used to have. I probably have about 15 games and some fun old school toys. I found the "Six-million dollar man" and the "Lone Ranger" figures with some old school barbie dolls to put on the shelves at some point. 

All the girls enjoy playing games so over the past two years, I have been finding some fun "home Decor" game items. 

I have a friend that has an engraving machine and he made the "Love" sign out of scrabble letters for his wife and I bought it from her yard sale last year. I found the Jacks that are mega sized at the same store where I found the large wooden dice and the large card blocks. I don't normally purchase regularly priced home decor items but I had a credit for a few of the items and purchase the others as I thought they were so cute. 

I found the "chess" pieces at different times and I found the "sorry" red pawn / piece at the top at a store for a dollar or two. It is a game of some kind as it speaks when you push the top but I am going to paint it bronze to go on the shelf with the other game items. 

I don't know that any of the "old" games that I have purchased would be cute hanging on the wall or the boxes for that matter but it was just a weird thing to dream of home decorating. I am sure it could be figurative, as in "The games are all on the wall where everyone can see clearly what is going on." 

I have gotten some court papers lately and the games continue so perhaps it is all figurative but even then, it was still fun to see all those old game boards looking so cute on the wall in my dream. I definitely don't have enough really old ones to make it like it was in my dream but maybe some day I will have a "game room" where that could be an option.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Cleaning a Vita-Mix - VitaMix - Vita Mix 5000 Series Blender

I have blogged over the past few weeks on how to clean old school Vitamixers that are first generation 3600 series. 

I then decided I would blog about how to clean the newer versions. The ones that come out now have a cleaning setting but mine isn't that new. So, with that, I decided to go ahead and post about cleaning those that doesn't have a cleaning setting. 
I used "totally awesome cleaner" on just about everything. They have an orange cleaner is a great degreaser. I use it when cleaning any kitchen appliance. 
I made some tomatillo sauce and wanted to clean the vitamix quickly so I added water and a few drops of dish detergent and put the variable option. 
I pulsed the speed for about a minute and it came out very clean. I sprayed the entire outside of the unit with the orange cleaner and then let it soak while I cleaned the pitcher. 
The square base in some ways is better than the old design as it doesn't have the little windows under the pitcher section like the old ones which makes it much easier to clean. 

I liked the stainless steel on the base better than the white as white shows more dirt. I think they would be smart to continue with the square design but go back to a stainless base. Just my thinking but any way you look at it, I think the Vitamix is one amazing machine. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cleaning and Old Vitamix - Vita-Mix - Vita Mix 3600

I was lucky to find another VitaMix at a second hand store this past week. I thought it was so odd that in two or three weeks, I found two old school Vitamix blenders and in years or searching, I have never found any.

I posted a few weeks back about how to clean a 3600 series mixer. Here is a link to my other post about cleaning a newer version of the 3600 series. 

This newer one I bought is even older. I couldn't believe when I saw the "Patn pending" on the side of the lid that I had a really old school mixer.

It differs from the newer 3600 series by having a metal nut on the inside holding the spigot in the front. It is so thin that it is really difficult to get out so I had to modify how I cleaned the blender section. 
The lid and gasket for the lid is the same. Make sure you soak it before you try and get it out as you can damage it. 

The inside edges seem to be deeper and collect gunk. The edges were very gross and dirty so it would need to be cleaned right after being used but for the power, it is worth it. 

I soaked the edges with cleaner and then used a knife to clean it. After scraping and soaking it, I used a paper towel to get it really clean. 
I couldn't get the nut off without lots of difficulty so I decided to clean around it as there was no room for anything to get in. 
With this one, I just took off the top of the nozzle and sprayed cleaner inside that and I also removed the clear plastic inside that holds the spring. 
The outside is the same as the other by spraying it and soaking it and using a knife inside a paper towel to get into the corners.  

It amazes me that the motors of these just keep going and they are so strong. These mixers are a good 30+ years old. Yet work just like they were new. 
I scrubbed the rubber with a scrubber and also cleaned the nozzle the same way. It has some years of worn goop on it. 

It is a wonderful blessing to have been able to find these older gems at a price I can afford. I decided to post about cleaning a newer mixer as the one I have is a much newer edition.