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Oct 30, 2014

Happiness Is a Sharp Pencil



I use pencils a lot when I sew.

I rarely notch with scissors anymore, preferring to mark notches with a pencil -- something I picked up from my menswear sewing class at FIT.

Sometimes I'll use a washable pencil made specifically for sewers, but a lot of the time I just use one of the many dozens of colored pencils I've accumulated over my lifetime.  I don't seem to be able to throw away colored pencils if they're more than an inch long.  Actually, that goes for most any pencil.  I love pencils.  They can't leak and ruin your shirt pocket or canvas briefcase.  And they last a long, long time.

But for decades, I've owned only cheap plastic portable sharpeners like the one below.  Perhaps you use one like this.





Half the time the tip breaks off before the pencil ever gets sharp, or one side sharpens and the other will still be covered with wood.

But no longer!

I was over at my Mom's yesterday and today (she had to have cataract surgery) and I got to take home the pencil sharpener I grew up with; my mother doesn't use it anymore.



I think my dad brought this sharpener home from work (my parents were teachers).  It wasn't new when we got it and I'm assuming he didn't just unscrew it from his classroom, or anybody else's, so I'm not sure how he came by it.   Since 1967 it was screwed onto a shelf in my brother's closet and, today, more than 45 years later, I unscrewed it. 

I brought it home and immediately installed it atop an old painted bookshelf in the bedroom.  I'm sure you've seen these sharpeners before, probably in school if you're about my age (or maybe any age).  As you can see, I'm not into polishing stuff.

Here's the inside.  Those grinding cylinders are called burrs, which I learned from Holly Gates' excellent blog, Tooling Up.  Those burrs essentially mill the pencil to incredible sharpness when you turn the crank.







The shavings land in the easily removable front section.



BEFORE:



AFTER:



I am so happy to have possession of my childhood pencil sharpener, readers.  Next trip, I'll have to grab my old Tonka trucks and board games (anyone want to play "Masterpiece"?)

Have a great day, everybody!

Oct 29, 2014

Calling All Redheads!



Friends, I have become a little obsessed of late with red hair.

Oct 28, 2014

"We interrupt this Python" or Sidetracked by Organic Cotton Flannel



You know that old chestnut about women being afraid of snakes?  Well, I can't vouch for its accuracy or lack thereof, but I can say that, much to my surprise, every woman who has caught sight of my python jacket-in-progress has totally oohed and aahed over it -- my octogenarian mother included.

Oct 24, 2014

The Vinyl Frontier



I admit it: sometimes the blog title comes first and then I write the post to match it.  I think you'll agree, "The Vinyl Frontier" beats first runner-up, "The Vinyl Solution." 

Oct 22, 2014

Digging Out the Faux Python



When I first started sewing five years ago, I used to shop at two bargain-basement fabric stores on 35th St.  One is gone for good and the other seems to have changed hands: I haven't been by in a long time.

Oct 21, 2014

Reversible Garments -- YEA or NAY?



Friends, what are your thoughts about reversible garments?  Do you own any?  Have you ever made any -- and if so, was it worth the trouble?

Oct 18, 2014

This 'n That + Cape Fear



Much to cover so let's get started!

Oct 14, 2014

Prepping Simplicity 1820, a 30's Jacket Pattern



I still have outerwear on the brain as you can see.

Oct 10, 2014

Good-bye, Elna Lotus + How Did I Not Know About Botani Trimmings?



Friends, I sold another sewing machine this afternoon: my Elna Lotus.

Oct 9, 2014

In Search Of....High Quality Rib Knit Waistbanding



Above is a photo of an Italian Valstarino men's jacket (manufactured by the Milanese company Valstar).

Oct 6, 2014

Peter Models the Op-Art Anorak!



Readers, it's here, ahead of schedule and ready for its close-up!  (That's Versace up top, btw, not me.)

To see me model my newly completed black and white op-art anorak, just click here.

Oct 4, 2014

Oct 2, 2014

Anorak Muslin + Another Sewing Machine Sold!



Yesterday I made a muslin of my anorak.

Sep 30, 2014

Two sewing machines gone, two more heading out.



This morning as I sipped my coffee and glanced at the sewing table in the corner of my kitchen, I had an epiphany: 
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