Good can come from bad

I trashed my serger a few months back. My Roomba managed to entangle the foot pedal with the chair rollers.  I sat on the chair, moved the wrong way and turned around to look at the big CRASH. It was my Vikin S21 serger. Badly damaged as in unrepairable and was the prompt for the purchase of the Brother 1034D. On a hunch I saved the thread stand. It was a good hunch.  I was able to move the thread stand to my Brother Dream Machine !!

The only spot that was ticklish was the  white plastic adapter on the bottom of the pole

Once I removed that, the poles were interchangeable. I slipped the new stand in place and am happy to say I have a 4-places thread stand.


New Toy Alert: 12″ Curve Runner

Yes, I bought the 12″. I love the smaller 8″ (right below)

… but I was constantly measuring well  beyond 8″  often upto 24″.  When the 12″ came out, I delayed asking myself what was the big improvement I was receiving? I mean, some tools are not improved by being bigger, smaller or a different color. But some are.  Since I’m often measuring between 16 and 24″ I decided I needed to own this one. It was a good choice for me. It really does make measuring curves easier and faster.

Alexa Look

Still playing.  I’ve found that having Alexa right next to the TV may not be a good idea.  Sometimes she can’t understand me because of the TV.  I turn the TV off and all is well. But I don’t like fussy things and I certaingly don’t want to execute a procedure which starts with “Turn off TV”  Think the best solution, is find a better resting place a few feet away from the TV.

Also wish the Look App had a few editing tools.  Still happy that she blurs the background but  but I would like be able to crop my pics. Suppose I could try new poses or even tilt the camera.  Sometimes don’t you just want things to work without your doing something about it?

Be warned, while hunting for the Looks pics so I could save in my preferred location, I managed to open up Prime Photos and got another Welcome letter from them. Not necessarily a bad thing. I did find out that Looks photos are not stored in Prime Photos. I don’t like having accounts that I don’t or don’t intend to use which is what Prim Photos is to me. But apparently, I’ve got it now.

Some interesting links I’ve collected along the way


BTW, the Look builds on Amazon’s Alexa hardware and application. Some of those links talk about hardware other than the Look but they do seem to tell me what Look specifically  won’t do that other Alexa products will.


She’s A Keeper: Amazon Alexa Look

Let me tell you about my few hours work with Alexa Look yesterday.

Thankfully, Amazon sent me a welcoming email with the links needed. I say thankfully because my email get so much junk thrown into the trash  it would have taken hours to find the invite to buy. The email has a nice link to a video showing how to physically set up the Look.  It was complete and nicely done but unnecessary. The Look is quite easy to set up:  1)Screw the stand in the bottom 2) plug-in the power 3) set in desired place 4) Alexa talks to you.

This is a small device. My shelf

is 18″ wide 8″ deep. Alexa sits on the top shelf with a 19″ monitor/TV an antique doll and the doll’s doll.  Alexa Look, is inconspicuous.

I’d love to say that installation was a snap but I ran into a few snags.  My Look will reside downstairs in my sewing  room. Most of our computer resources are located upstairs including the big PC, routers and repeaters.

I downloaded the App the night before by going out to Google Play and searching for Amazon Look. I “pushed” the app to my cell phone which takes only a few minutes and opens immediately. Didn’t really want to fuss with it then, I always assume a new program, a new device will need some, ummm, attention.

Next morning I trot downstairs and plug the power into Alexa. While she’s doing her self-check, I sign into my cell (I keep a password on the cell to avoid butt dialing and taking photos of the bottom of my purse).   The app was still on the screen (I’m not a heavy cell user) so when Alexa said she was ready, I tapped the button and began the install. Took me 3 tries.   I needed to turn on the cell Bluetooth ( never use with my cell). Also needed my Amazon password which I never type in because I have my devices save it. Not saved on the cell because I prefer to do my shopping on something larger, like an IPAD.  Didn’t help that I typed in the password twice backwards and had to run upstairs where passwords are kept to verify my password. Then I needed the router’s password  (2nd trip upstairs) which to me was odd because that is one of the first things I attended to when, many moons ago,  I activated this cell phone and the WIFI password is saved in the cell. Fortunately, right in the app it tells you how to restart Alexa when she times out (tired of waiting on me to get it right, I suppose).  At least twice she (Alexa) insisted that the WIFI must be turned on. Which was annoying because my cell has an icon which pulses showing that WIFI is active. I’m looking at the pulsing icon in disbelief as Alexa tells me WIFI is not active and she goes to sleep.  I mentioned I have repeaters? I’m assuming part of the issue was the known dead spots in my house which, even with the repeaters, does slow the network down from time to time.  Anyway, I repeat the same set up/ registration process 3 times. Just follow the same directions the same way getting things right and she logs in and is ready to go. I mean preview-screen-is-up-and-I’m-looking-at-myself ready-to-go.  No more BS. Boom take the first pic.

I did see a noticeable delay between my movements and what is displayed on my cell screen.  I’m not sure exactly why that is because otherwise the pass-though from Alexa to blue tooth to  cell to WIFI to internet is seamless. No hiccups. I mention this because I’ve had several Android tablets and phones and now an IPAD on which I’ve used blue tooth and subsidiary devices. Some of these devices do not allow connection to WIFI/internet  concurrently when connection to them. Some of the devices have a pass through which is cranky at best and always slower than molasses. Again, I’m sure my physical network has a role in the performance. What I want to point out though is that I’ve had previous experience with blue tooth and WIFI and my Alexa experience is superior to all my previous,  but there is a noticeable delay between my physical body moving around and displaying them on the cell screen.

Directions say to place the Look about shoulder height and stand 5′ away.  I’m standing about 7′ away.  My first pic took only the upper half of my body. I’m short (5’2″) and wonder if that had something to do with the upper half only pic. I sat Alexa on the shelf below the TV and took the next pics. I think these turned out really well:

I, the picture subject, am sharp and clear. I am particularly pleased that the back ground is blurred. As I took more pics, I realized I have plenty of time to check my cell screen for position, say the magic words and set my cell down before the pic is snapped i.e. it’s really not necessary to have the cell in my hand as in the above pics. In fact once I say the magic words I have a sec or two before the lights come on. When Alexa lights up, it’s time to assume desired position. There’s no big hurry, but no big delay either. Oh and taking pics is almost as easy as saying “now”. The magic words are “Alexa, Take a pic”. During testing I took 4 pics in quick succession. I did not wait to see them load. Just “Alexa, Take A pic”, change position and repeat.  I estimate about 3-5 seconds between pics. They were all there in the app and all as sharp as the pics above.

Let me digress and tell you how I have been taking pics.  Camera is stored in a safe place as is my tripod. A tripod was absolutely necessary to position the camera at a level and distance needed to take a full body pic, my preference for fitting evaluations. Both stored in a safe place because “downstairs” is a fully finished basement with cement floors. I’ve killed a number of appliance’s over the years, including 2 other cameras, by dropping them on the basement floor. Carpeting, does not help. It just softens the crash to a thud. Result is the same: broken appliance. So to take pics, I retrieve camera and tripod. Screw camera onto tripod and set them in place.  I’ve actually marked the floor to be sure I place them and myself in the same position for every picture to ensure that every picture will be full body. Anyway, retrieval and assembly, then the camera timer must be turned on for every pic. Run to position; straighten self and smile an agonizing 7-8 seconds until the camera flashes. Camera takes about 20 secs to process and be ready for the next pic. Next pic:  run to camera, set the timer, run to position, smile.    I normally take 4 pics for fitting evaluation: back, side right, front and side left. And I take them in that order. Then I run upstairs to upload pics and evaluate the fit. I go upstairs because my camera has a 2″ screen. It’s hard to view the pics and  I can’t enlarge on the camera. Upstairs is the Big PC which also has my photo editing app.

My cell has a 5″ screen with the capability to stretch (enlarge) the pic right on the screen allowing me to look at details.  Lots of times during fitting, I want to see wrinkles in a particular area. Being able to stretch the pic is helpful. Being able to see the pics immediately is also helpful. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve moved just as the camera snaps the pic; nor how many empty pics I’ve taken because it snapped before I got into position. In fitting  I do see most of the front and side issues in the mirror. Cannot see them all and cannot see what is going on the back view of me.  Pics are my salvation. Alexa cuts out a lot of time spent taking pics, running upstairs, editing, evaluating and then running downstairs. Often I may increase a seam 1/8″ or do something else that seems minor but it will have enough effect that I need to check. Which means, ‘nother set up, pic, run up stairs. With Alexa, I’m seeing in mere seconds if my change has had the desired effect and if I need to do something more or move onto  something else. I’m one who fixes one thing at a time. I’ve learned in fitting that everything affects everything else. I’ve gone around in circles making and removing alterations. Over time I learned to start at the highest point (shoulders for tops, waist for bottoms) and work out one wrinkle at a time. Frustratingly slow, especially with pics in the mix, but faster than my trying to fix everything at once. Very often, I need fix only one thing and dozens of wrinkles just go away.  Alex makes this process so much faster.

Eventually though I do want the pics upstairs on the Big PC. That’s where I write my blog posts; that’s where I store all my files including my pics. (I’m still slightly suspicious of the cloud.  I’ve had too many internet services pack up and disappear over night with no prior warning.) The app has a number of features. Pics are displayed in a section of the app  under an icon which looks like a person’s head. Tap that and pics are displayed in a thumbnail grid. Locate and double tap the desired pic.  It enlarges to fill the whole screen and displays another set of icons including Share. Tap on the share icon, scroll to choose Gmail (my default email on the cell) and tap send.  These are pretty much standard gestures on any cell. Upstairs I access my email and download the pic.  That process varies depending upon the email package you use. I like to edit my pics at least a little. For one thing, I cut out as much of the back ground as possible that  Alexa has kindly blurred.

So this  …………………………………….. becomes

or  if I want to share details

this ………………………………………. turns into

Now, Alexa may have more tools i.e. it may be possible to do some editing right on my cell. I haven’t read all the instructions or even played with all the icons.  Even if I don’t learn anything else about Alexa Look, she has a place in my heart and in my sewing. Truly she improves my fitting process. Totally eliminates some of the steps (that of setting up the camera and setting the timer) and allows me to look at the pics right away without running up stairs, uploading files and editing in a separate program. I think this is one of the best purchases I’ve made in a while. She’s a keeper!

New toy alert: THE AMAZON LOOK

Look what arrived in the UPS truck today:

Ok the rather non-descript book is  not much of a clue. My AMAZON LOOK arrived in this box with :

ah not much more. The box is in the back, The Look directly in front of the box and center of the pic. There are two cards, really with little more information; power supply; the stand on the bottom had to be screwed on and in the right front is a wall mount.   The Look is a cool little gadget. Not much bigger than my regular camera.

I almost hate to bring this up, but do you remember privacy  discussions and concern for a camera that was always on in your closet?  Well you can turn it off. See below.


I assume. I assume that pushing that button turns both the microphone and the camera off.  Don’t know yet because I don’t have full instructions. I’m waiting for the welcome email which provides the link to the software.  Hope it wasn’t the same email as the one which announced I was invited to buy ’cause that’s in the email trash.  I’ll never wade through all the trashed emails to find that again.

Rolling Edges

Knits are infamous for rolling edges. Generally I handle them my serging the edges before prewashing and serging the garment as soon as the knit- fabric is cut.  But thereI’ve acquired a  new knit that rolls as fast as it is cut. This is a problem. It’s not that easy to unroll and serge.  I find that I’m changing the size of my finished garment i.e. I’m sewing the garment significantly smaller than cut.  Should  I add more ease to compensate? How do I know how much to add?  Is this something I have to make a test for each garment?  See how I can really obsess?

I decided instead to try out a few solutions to the rolling edge.  I purchased Terial Magic

I purchased mine from Amazon but I’ve seen it in several places. It came with a spray, so I tried spraying. Oy vey!

Look at the selvage on the left of that pic above.  It took 8 different spaying plus ironing without steam and it is still not flat.  Next, I poured TM into a small bowl, painted and ege and allowed to dry over night:

TM is a winner!!!!  Needs only a light press without steam. Heck I think I could skip the pressing.


Another recommended product is Blue Glue

I’m told it must be the blue, washable, school glue so that’s what I bought for the first trial.  I squirted it along the cut edge

Admittedly this may be a user error, but I couldn’t get an even application with out the help of a small spatula

Once again dried over night

I hang things that-need-to-dry-a-while over the shower curtain in the guest bath.

Don’t have a good photo to show you, but the glued edge curls as it dries.  I gave it a shot of steam and pressed lightly to unroll the edge.  I did have one place that was tightly curled and would not unfurl.  Made me glad I started by cutting project size pieces 2-inches larger than the expected finished project piece.  I can just place my pattern above the edge far enough to exclude the furled edge.

Both products performed. TM was better at producing a flat edge .  Blue Glue has some additional attributes.  It’s a lot less expensive — by far. Easily available and also functions as a washable resist. Yes, use it as a resist which will wash away and be gone.  I’ll use the TM as long as I have it.  Not sure I would buy a second bottle because, I’m cheap.



A Different Ripper

It happens. A sewing Booboo. It happens so often with machine sewn  buttonholes that I wrap the buttonhole area with water-soluble thread. That way when the button-hole is bad, I can easily shave it off.  The last time I messed up a button-hole was on this lovely test of the Tabula Rasa Blouse

Click pic to read about the blouse.

Can’t blame the machine. No, I didn’t have the blouse front perpendicular to machine’s throat place. The buttonhole was obviously set on a diagonal. To make matters worse, I didn’t add WSS before stitching buttonholes. Could it be worse? Yes, I couldn’t find the shaver I keep in the Stash Room for this very purpose.  I did however have one of these next to the embroidery machine

These are called Eyebrow Shapers. Available in most drug stores and invaluable for sawing through Birds Nests on the embroidery machine. I grabbed the handy one to see if it would work.

I found I needed to hold it perpendicular to the sewn thread. That meant the last sewn threads are zig zags and I sawed up and down across them.  The first stitches of this buttonhole are straight stitches that already run perpendicular to the edge. I rotated the shaper 90 deg now sawing horizontally across those threads. I finished by using my thumbnail to scrap away the remaining and already cut threads.

To my delight, I was done in about 3 minutes. No harm done to the blouse fabric but I was careful and checked often.

Off-Season Clothing Storage

Another ‘not post-gussy’ project, just happened to get done shortly after I decided to quit gussying the sewing and stash rooms for this year.  Every year my closet gets overburdened just before I completely change from hot to cold or vice versa weather clothing. It’s only a few weeks a year that I know I’ll need both clothing to warm me and the least clothing possible so I can keep cool. I’m relieved, usually, when it’s time to put away the previous season’s attire. I also try to purge a little at this time–and always surprised next year when I need to purge even more.  This year, to my surprise, the number of clothes I’m keeping and was wearing has grown. I did release worn and non-fitting items as well as those that were not worn even once.

But my usual storage is not sufficient. Primarily because it is still occupied by deep winter sweaters and pants. I looked around and realized that my gussying had ‘freed’ a little space in the ironing closet (the closet you see in all my pics). I purchased 2 new Sterite containers. Cleaned the top shelf in the aforementioned closet and after filling, tucked the new containers into the far corner.


I plan to give this closet a good cleaning, probably when I move the winter coats upstairs. For now, I’m tickled and pleased with myself for having taken 20 minutes to do a really good job which will make it easier when I get to the point of earnestly. cleaning the closet.

Wish I had thought to take a preview.  That corner was a mess.

Not exactly post-Gussy-project(s)

I burned up another  iron.  I’ve had several well-meaning individuals encourage me to buy a professional iron.  They insist that although more expensive a professional iron would rid me of this need to replace irons.  Thing is, just because an item is branded ‘professional’ and even ‘commercial’ does not mean it’s going to last longer, or do a better job.  Instead of buying a professional iron, I spent the time searching out the specs for my favorite and comparing with the other irons available.  I hunted the internet avoiding only those sites which specified a business license of some sort was required. OK, I did not check all 356,769 links Google returned; and maybe I should have used other search terms. I discovered to get a truly better iron, something that would hold up to my near-daily, 3-4 hour use, would cost between $1,200-$1,500 and up. For my budget this translates to credit card use which entails some interest.  I made the choice to continue buying irons marketed for the home user.  I know full well and accept that my irons will last at best 12 months.  My last one the Kalorik, lasted 14 months.

So I bought another. When it arrived, I was still in the mode of cleaning. In fact, I’m enjoying these 15-20 minute bursts of intensive cleaning. I took a little longer to cleaning and straighten the entire Ironing Station which includes, iron, stand and bulletin board:

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Those pictures don’t show the Ironing Station at it’s worst. I’d actually cleaned a little before I thought to take pics.  A good thorough cleaning which included pulling out the stand, cleaning all the shelves and the floor and discarding unused ‘tools’; later:

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I left only the things I use on the bulletin board and in the basket.

Looking into the basket — which got a liner!


Why did I not line that basket before? 10 years of fuzz was difficult to clean.

From the side:


… and yes that is a repurposed wine rack.  I thought the bottle rack would be great for holding rolls of stabilizer and pressing tools. I prefer to have my stabilizers stored next to the cutting table where I assemble my embroidery hoops for the machine. Turns out there aren’t many ‘rolled’ pressing aides. The basket, er ice bucket has turned out to be excellent for holding many things.  I keep scissors for use and spot cleaning laundry aides. That’s spray starch and water hanging on the side. On the back side, hangs a sweater buzz and more spot remover. We get lots of spots.

I had to move the electric strip to the shelves after those photos. Pity,because I’d like to have most of that space for cleaning out the shelves under the embroidery machine:


Which is a future project, I’m sure.

PS my new iron looks just like my old one. May be the same model too. I liked how it works and loved the price.