Oil it up!

While I was sewing up my latest project I was aware that my machine was feeling a bit sluggish.  Not being able to remember the last time I oiled it prompted a video!  This was a quick oiling since there was little to no lint build up.  What is interesting is that I oil three distinctively different machines in a row and you can see a little of how they're similar and how they're different.

In all honestly this is really only going to be of mild interest to those of you who either own vintage sewing machines, want one, or just like machine type stuff in general.  Or....   maybe you have a machine that should be oiled and you're too timid to pop the cover.  Well get to it!

It's two parts, just in case you had nothing better to do with the next 20 minutes of you life....  I'm curious to see how many views #2 gets.

this guy's got something you want

I just picked up recently discontinued Burda 7776.  It's not really in my taste but I figure someday it might come in handy.  In retrospect I think I wanted it mostly for the photo, look how he's smirking..  He's got it, he knows it, you want it, can't have it.

I just finished up my cargo pocket pants muslin and they actually fit!!!  I'm preparing a full report today but I'm pretty thrilled with them.  Stay tuned!

Mother always said Vogue was the best you could get...

Ok so it's not like I'm trying to promote Vogue patterns by any means but I feel this is important.  Maybe it's just my Scottish half but a deal is a deal and I think you should know.

Vogue patterns are on sale right now for $3.99!

This is a big deal because Vogue patterns are some of the most expensive sewing patterns you can buy.  There's a shirt (Vogue 1165) designed by Sandra Betzina that retails for $27.50!  Holy Crapes that's expensive!!!

Get this pattern and a whole lot more for a seriously reduced price.  The sale is also going on at Jo-Ann's but I hear inventory is reducing fast.  They say it's a 3 day sale but I have no idea when it ends....

This makes me wonder, if you can buy Vogue for $3.99, would you ever pay full price?  Why don't they charge a reasonable price to begin with and maintain the value of their product?  I also notice the list price for the pattern is $27.50 but then it says "my" regular price is $16.50.  Ok?  If you're listening McCalls (who owns Vogue)...  this is a bizarre pricing scheme.

better late than never....

I know!  I'm supposed to be getting these entries done on the weekend but sometimes I feel like there's nothing to talk about.  Today I got home from work and I decided, fine...   I'm dressed up in a funny outfit, I should do a video.  Ok it's not that funny but I'm not for a change wearing anything I made myself.  The skinny pants I got from Target for $4 and the shirt from Hudson's Treasure Hunt (in Mobile, AL) for $12, shoes from Burlington Coat Factory of all places...

So here it is, the great fabric finds of the week came from Sew Low Discount Fabric in Cambridge.  This place is my kind of fabric store.  You have to dig for your treasure!  Granted I'd love it if the prices were $1/yard cheaper but hey, it's good enough.  They also have coupons you can print off the web site which I found quite useful.

The other link for today is to a Flicker album for Ann Rowley's double welt pocket guide.  This of course is courtesy of Dawn over at her blog Two On, Two Off.  Ann does some very fine sewing and if you're in the loop,  Dawn was just awarded PatternReview.com's featured member of the month which I think is very cool!  If you follow sewing blogs Dawn should be on your watch list.


a bit of a shopping spree..

PR plug:  If you don't already know, www.PatternReview.com is having a sale on patterns for FoPR (friends of patternreview) members through the end of the month.  Plus!  If you order over $25 ($35 for non-members) you get free shipping in the US.

There are not a whole lot of men's patterns currently in print, and of those that are only a select few interest me.  What better time to stock up on stuff I've had my eye on but didn't want to spend the cash than during a sale.

Here's what I got....  Keep an eye out for these to be appearing in future episodes of BrianSews...  The Jalie patterns for women are extremely popular and difficult to find at a discount, now's your opportunity!

start your monday off right...

get a little inspiration if you dare

good parlor pets are hard to stuff....

I can't even say I've finished my parlor pet because I haven't even closed the stuffing holes yet or put on the eyes and nose.  This of course requires hand stitching which like many sewists I avoid as much as I can.  Even so, it's finished enough and I can say i'm really ready to move on now.  This project was extra fiddly and totally foreign to what I'm accustomed to working with.  Yeah sure, I learned a lot...  but was it stuff I needed to know?  I did two videos for this week, a regular BrianSews episode and since I was on a roll, a separate video review of McCall's M5676.

On another completely unrelated note.  I made my first batch of cheese!  How amazing is that?  No no it's not anything fancy, more like cream cheese than anything else.  I've been really into fermented milk lately, sounds gross huh?  Seriously though.  I really dislike milk, the idea of drinking it straight makes me shudder.  So how the heck am I all of a sudden obsessed with it?

The kefir:
It all started in Brazil......   I, like many people, tend to have some digestive issues especially while traveling.  Foreign foods, unstable schedule, weird water, it all adds up to.... discomfort.  Well, when I was in Brazil they seemed to sell kefir all over the place.  Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that's similar in flavor to a thin yogurt and drank like a smoothie.  Unlike yogurt which only has a handful of beneficial bacteria kefir is PACKED with 41 different beneficial strains.  Simply put, it had amazing effects on my well being this last trip abroad and I got hooked.  Click the links for more info.  Anyway, I've been brewing it up in mass quantity since I got home using organic milk and leaving out all the sugar and flavoring of commercial brands.

The cheese:
A friend of mine was telling me he made some cheese and I thought that sounded pretty cool so I bought some vegetarian rennet on ebay and tried my hand at it.  It's about as easy as it gets!  Heat milk to almost boiling, quickly cool to room temperature, add in a little kefir and a few drops of rennet.  This sits on your kitchen counter for 24 hours to firm up.  Strain the curds from the whey using cheese cloth, I cheated and used a woven polyester, by hanging the mixture for another 24 hours.  Mix some salt into remaining curds and stick in fridge.  That's it.  The longer it sits the more favor it develops.....  simply amazing and yummy.

The yogurt:
On top of all this a good friend just gifted me her very special yogurt starter that was brought all the way back from India.  I made my first batch and WOW, that's some good starter.  If you've ever had Nancy's organic yogurt it's like that, but way stronger.  This stuff will curl your eyelashes, it's so sour and thickened up beautifully.  I'm much more into kefir than yogurt now but this starter is worth keeping up.  Besides Nancy's, the American yogurts are designed for the masses.  Super sour and strong would not be a good selling point in this country.

So with all this milk fermenting I've been at the store almost every other day picking up a new carton!  Yikes, that's a lot of milk...

This first video is your weekly BrianSews episode:

This second is the McCall's M5676 review:

Something awesome happened at whole foods

Yeah I know... I shop at Whole Foods. Before you go into it I'll give you a little disclaimer about my shopping habits. We all know that everyone loves to hate on Whole Foods, don't deny it, you chime in with everyone else when the topic comes up.

In Mobile Alabama the choices for organic produce are extremely limited and there was next to nothing in bulk in my area. I suffered for it. When I shop at Whole Foods I do the bulk isle and produce. I don't buy meats, cheeses, pre-packaged, pre-prepared, household junk, supplements or body care. The prices on organic bulk bins and produce are exactly what I expect to pay and I am so thankful to have access to these staples at a regular price. After moving it's within 2 miles of my house and mere blocks from Trader Joe's means I feel like I've found heaven on earth even though it's only 23 degrees outside.

Ok back to business.

I actually remembered to bring my homemade reusable grocery bags with me into the store which is a miracle in and of itself. As I shop I put items directly into my bags which earns me sideways glances from other shoppers. I like the extra attention and fully enjoy not using a public cart or basket. Anyway...
The bagger (at Whole Foods every checker has a bagger you know) was loading my veggies and produce into my bags and commented to me as I finished paying.
He said, "Where did you get these bags?"

oh these old things...? I made them....
bagger, "oh wow, I was checking for the label and couldn't find one, these are great!"

I left the store with a smile in my heart. Considering how many reusable shopping bags a bagger must see it felt good that he liked mine enough to even mention them. Either that or he thought I was cute, or both! I have made two that are almost identical, one has an inner pocket for your wallet/keys and one does not.

I used a standard paper bag for the pattern as I figure they didn't come up with that shape and size by accident. The fabric was from the old Walmart $1 table and I specifically thought "grocery bag" when I purchased it. At this point they've been used enough that they're starting to show some wear which I find endearing. I wish I had had enough fabric to do the handles on the bias because they're showing the most wear along the edges.

The new digs....

Today is the day.

I sat on the bathroom floor this morning taking a duffel bag full of bathroom products and organized it in to four piles: travel, medicine cabinet, under sink, trash. This marked the very last bit of unpacking/organizing left to do before I could consider myself officially and fully moved in.

Today's video is really just another personal entry into the captains log here at BrianSews. Whenever I watch videos online I always wonder what the rooms beyond the camera look like don't you? With this in mind here's a video tour of my new home/studio so when you watch the next BrianSews video you'll feel right at home.


I know there's no place to sit yet but feel free to walk around and see what you think. I looked at around 15 places before I finally selected this one and I think I made an excellent choice. My criteria was hardwood floors, no roommates, good light, good energy, and off street parking. This place was slightly above my price but ALL utilities are included which brings the value up significantly especially in winter. The heat is all steam fed radiators which are really warm and
since I'm over the basement the steam pipes warm my floor. Hot huh!

The first sewing project that I'm planning to start tomorrow is freshly discontinued McCall's M5676. Since I haven't sewn a thing since before Brazil I think it's important to start with something small just to be sure I remember what the heck i'm doing. This funny little pattern jumped out at me and I thought, why not! View A/B is the dog of choice, not so much into the poodle but we'll see....

I should check PatternReview.com for reviews to see if anyone else has sewn this piece. Nope! I'll be the first, I should write a review... how funny will that be....

I'd really like to get back to talking about sewing so I need to get on the ball with some projects or maybe even a how-to!

I also noticed that David Coffin left a comment on the 11/09/09 show where I talk about his trousers book which I thought was very nice. I'd really like to interview him someday......

A quick update..


I can always tell when I'm overdue for a posting because I start getting worried emails and instant messages. It's really heart warming when people from all over the world show concern for my well being and safety.

I know I've been gone for a while but I did warn you this would happen. I know I could have written something earlier but I only have one photo to post so far.... :(

So here's the deal. The reason I was in Boston a month ago was to do a final confirmation on my new job opportunity and to wrangle myself a place to live. I got back to Alabama on the 10th of December and since then have been making preparations for the move. I am happy to report that I am sitting in my new computer nook in my sweet little house drinking green tea and getting ready for work at my new job!

Oh my gosh I bet you have questions..... and lots of em. Just yesterday I was able to find a solution for all my hanging fabric and finally get some of my clothes hung up as well. Have you ever lived in a house with no closets? How about one power outlet per room, cross your fingers that it's grounded! What this means is that I'm still living in shambles here trying to get my belonging into organized stacks instead of random piles of junk. Having to work most of the day brings me into the real world of only having a few hours before and after for me time.

I'll have a video as soon as I can and of course I'll have more photos and information about what this move is all about for me. For now there is a photo of my car with a uhaul trailer in some parking lot in NY state on New Years Eve. The entire car is packed to the roof with fabric, the trailer is stuffed with everything else. I even had to put a few plastic bins on the roof! I averaged 12 mpg for the 1400 mile drive which took me about 24 hours of total driving time.

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