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I had a dream

After living in a mobile home for 20 years, I figured it was time to move up in the world so I bought a travel trailer and called it my casita. Since I must do some serious downsizing I’m faced with making difficult decisions. No matter how meaningful any item might be…well if it won’t fit into the ‘casita’ or out in the tool shed I simply cannot keep it. There was no problem getting rid of most things – they are just ‘things’ after all, but the one item I had problems parting with was my sewing machine table.

Here is the story.

When I first moved to Savannah I had to work three part-time jobs just to make ends meet. Eventually landed one good job working at a dry-cleaning store. It doesn’t seem very glamorous working from 7 in the morning to almost 11 pm handling dirty clothes but it sure did pay the bills. I was promoted to manager and a while later was transferred to one of the other stores that my boss owned. It was a 35-mile drive to get to work…and it was like being in a whole other world once I got to know the new place. It was out in the country where people smile, are friendly, helpful, honest, good church-going people. What a contrast to Savannah. It did not take me long to like everyone who walked through the door.

In addition to dry cleaning we also offered alterations. People could drop off their clothes and the alterations lady would have everything finished within a week. That was okay for most people but some had more pressing needs. (No pun intended.) So, what the heck, I carried my sewing machine and supplies to work and set it up in my office to handle the urgent sewing jobs, quick hems, small repairs, slight fitting adjustments, etc.

One mother brought in a pair of nearly-new blue jeans that her daughter had managed to snag on a nail. Rather than the normal patch and repair, I offered the ‘teen special treatment’ using glitzy fabric, sequins, and silver thread. It was a big hit.

The Army Reserves came in and needed the US flag sewn on the sleeves of every uniform shirt in a big hurry. That was very special and required me to drive out to the Reserve building to pick up the shirts and the flag patches. I carried everything back to my office and sewed my little heart out until every shirt sported a patch of our flag. When I presented the invoice to the commander of the unit he was surprised, no, shocked that I charged so little money; it seems that the military had allotted a
budget of $600 (six hundred dollars) for the work but I only charged the going rate of $2 (two dollars) per patch. (I will not talk about government overspending.) I have no idea how or if he would explain the surplus in his budget.

There was the proud father of a Boy Scout – his son was hoping to become an Eagle Scout earning badges as fast as he was able. The father had tried to glue the badges onto a sash but was making a mess so he came to me for help. No problem, I have a sewing machine and know how to use it. Besides, since I lived alone there was no hurry for me to rush home after work. I loved helping these people.

I could relate dozens of stories about these interesting people but…back to the point.

One day an elderly man wandered into the store. He did not come to drop off any dirty laundry. Not to pick up any clean laundry. I had no clue why he was in the store. He was a man of few words. He wandered around the lobby for a while and when there were no other customers he asked, “Do you have a sewing machine table?” Um, er. Random question if I ever heard one but okay, I’ll play along. Yes, I told him I have a sewing machine table in my office. He asked if I needed it. Huh?! Um, this was a bit weird so I figured I’d turn the question around and asked him if he needed the table. Ah, yes, he did. Guess by now y’all know me well enough. Five minutes later, after I relocated my sewing machine and supplies to the floor, the man walked out carrying my old sewing machine table. He seemed very happy to have it. He offered to pay for it but no, I would take no money. As I said, it was just a very weird occurrence.

But not as weird as the following few weeks.

The man, who was about 95 years old and probably weighed maybe 95 pounds, came back to chat…well, not exactly to chat since he was a man of few words. He asked if I had a sewing machine. Oh, no, no, no…Yes, I have a sewing machine but I explained that I needed my sewing machine and it was not available. He asked if he could see the machine. Whew, weirder by the minute. (Yes, Alice, I supposed I could say curiouser and curiouser.) Okay, I led him into the office so he could see my sewing machine. For anyone interested, it’s a heavy-duty Singer school model. He noticed that the machine was sitting on a folding TV tray.

He saw the machine.

Then he left.

Weird. (Cue the Twilight Zone music.)

The next day he came back to chat. He asked me what would be my idea of a ‘perfect’ sewing machine table. Well, weird or not he had stopped by enough times that I felt at ease describing my ideal sewing machine table.

Over the next several weeks he came back many times. He asked questions. Took notes. He even asked me to sit in a chair so he could take measurements. I kind of figured, since he was old, that maybe he might have a screw or two loose. Until one day he walked through the door carrying a sewing machine table! It was unfinished as he was still in the process of building it. Yes, he was building a sewing machine table just for me! He asked me to sit and ‘try it out for size’; he asked me to place my sewing machine into the space in the table top…uh, oh (frowning)…he did not gauge the depth correctly…more measurements…and he walked out taking the table with him.

A few days later he returned. This time he brought the finished table complete with the wooden insert which allowed the sewing machine to sit at the correct height flush with the tabletop. The wood had been sanded and stained a lovely walnut color and yes, it was perfect. It fit like a glove. It was the ideal sewing machine table. And he made it just for me. Think back to that first day when he wandered into the store. I hadn’t charged him any money when I gave him my old sewing machine table. He returned the favor by giving me the custom-made, perfectly ideal sewing machine table for no money.

So here I am downsizing. Cleaning, sorting, donating, and sometimes trashing…everything that will not fit into the casita has to go. There is no room for all this ‘stuff’ so I cannot keep it. Many items have been donated to the thrift stores, some items were given to neighbors, some to my daughter who lives nearby and some to my other daughter who drove seven hours from Alabama to pick up the items that she treasured – an antique school desk, a butcher block rolling cart and a few other things.

But what about the sewing machine table? What am I to do about that? There is zero floor space in the casita, all the furniture is bolted to the floor, and I’m pretty sure I can’t hang it from the ceiling. What to do, sleep on it? No, not sleep on the table, silly! Sleep on the problem about what to do with the table.

And the answer came to me in a dream.

In the RV kitchen, there is a dinette. It consists of a table and two bench seats and yes, it’s all bolted to the floor. The whole thing can be converted from a dinette into a sleeping area. Just lift up the tabletop, remove the two metal legs, stow the legs under one of the bench seats…place the tabletop in the slots and..tada!; it’s a bed. WooHoo! But…hmmm…what if, um, er…could I? Let me see. No, let me measure. Yep. If I lift up the tabletop and stow it away against the wall under the window, then put the metal legs away, the empty space between the two benches is exactly the right size for a sewing machine table. Oh, my gosh. It couldn’t be a better fit if it had been custom made for that space.

Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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Two Dog Shirts for 50 Cents

Edited to add my new dog who was not here when this post was created. His name is Chico Burrito.
Very soon I will have to figure out how to make three dog shirts for fifty cents!

Okay…back to talking about dog shirts…
Have you seen the prices of clothes for dogs?! Yikes, unbelievable. It may be better to sew clothes for the dog yourself. But oh, have you seen the price of fabric these days?! But there is a solution.

Whether you say thrifty or cheap, or if you call it recycling or upcycling…getting two shirts for the dogs for a grand total of 50 cents seems like quite a bargain. Here is how it can be done.

We first take a trip to the local thrift store where we find a snappy blue sweatshirt in size 5.

We’ll start by assuming that you already have a sewing machine and know how to sew. Also, that you have decent scissors, pins, thread and that you know how to copy a pattern from a shirt that your dog already loves – just trace around the old shirt onto some brown paper. Here is Jack in his favorite red shirt. It fits him perfectly. Jack is too sexy for that shirt.

After running the sweatshirt through the washer/dryer we will prepare to cut away some of the seams. Leave the lower ribbing intact; don’t cut that part. And when cutting off the neck ribbing, leave the seam attached to the neck ribbing; we’ll be using that ribbing later.

Lay sweatshirt flat; prepare to cut away seams.


Here is the fabric ready to be used to make the two shirts.

Lay out the pattern pieces keeping the grainline in mind, pin in place then cut out. Save the scraps; they may be needed later.


This is what’s left of the sweatshirt after all the pattern pieces have been cut for two shirts. There is enough fabric to make half a shirt. All we need is another sweatshirt in a coordinating color but that’s a job for another day.

For the neckline, we will re-use the neck ribbing that we cut from the sweatshirt. Cut the fabric slightly longer than the pattern piece.

On the old red shirt, there was a small opening about the size of a buttonhole meant to be used to attach the leash to the harness. Since I found the hole to be too small for fat fingers, I made a slight design change. Instead of making a buttonhole type opening, I opted for this. And check out what a good color match the thread is.

Here is the same piece which has been assembled with the back and front pieces. 

Okay, since you know how to sew, the rest is easy. Just sew all the seams, try it on to make sure it fits, make adjustments as needed, and that’s it!

Jack loves his new shirt. It is very comfortable.

Uh, oh. Here comes trouble. George wants to see the new shirt. George tries offering a toy to Jack hoping that Jack will give up the shirt. No, that’s not gonna happen. Jack turns his back on George.


Problem solved. I gave George the red shirt to wear and Jack is happy in his new blue shirt.


George doesn’t know how to read yet so he has no idea that the title of this page is “Two Dog Shirts for 50 Cents”. I will make the second shirt and George will be very happy, plus he can keep all his toys.

Hey, I found a great site. Upload your own images to Jigsaw Planet just like this:

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Apron made from a skirt

When not busy with the dogs and/or the rabbits, or gardening or reading, I sew. Since I don’t like to follow patterns that means I usually work up a design as I sew. Just before Christmas this year I was sick with a cold and the weather was not good for gardening so I started some sewing projects. Here is an apron I made for my daughter who, at the time, was teaching pre-K students and needed lots of pockets in her apron.

This apron started out as a skirt purchased at the Goodwill so it had a previous life with someone else before my daughter purchased it. Unfortunately, the skirt was too short for her to wear at work. Not wanting to waste such a pretty fabric, I decided to turn it into an apron for her. I added a coordinating fabric for the ties and the key fob.

I had a bit of help with this apron project. My favorite employee at Joann Fabric helped me to select thread and bias binding that would match this crazy fabric. Thanks!!

Thumb of 2017-01-05/greene/c60418


(Originally written Jan 5, 2017)