We are in the grips of a winter storm today. When I drove home from work at 1 p.m. there were white-out conditions. This would mark the continuation of the waiting-for-spring anxiety, except that Steve and I have both retreated to projects.
At work, we’re getting new carpet and furniture, and that has led to a massive cleaning out of the space. Yesterday I brought home two duvet covers that are supposed to be twin size but seemed more like queen to me. They’ve always been a problem– way too much fabric and a hassle for people who have to remake the beds. I cut 24″ off the width to get them to fit the duvets.
I got out my sewing machine for this project. I had totally forgotten how much I used to like to sew! I was supposed to make curtains for the guest bedroom, but fabric is so expensive, and I couldn’t find any that I liked. I ended up getting cheap but stylish curtains at Target.
I learned a while ago that the global garment industry has made sewing clothes obsolete. Because of this, fabric shops are as depressing as bookstores these days. What few remain clearly make their money on quilters and crafters, Halloween, dance and other costume makers, and the occasional pillow recoverer or reupholsterer.
When I was a teen especially, I loved sewing clothes. I loved everything about it– the fabric, the patterns, the marking wheel, the deluxe scissors (my left-handed model), even the ironing and pinning. I had my sewing machine set up in the basement and would set up several of my dad’s albums upstairs, turn the stereo knob to the remote speakers, and retire downstairs. After a few hours, I’d go upstairs and flip the stack of albums over. I associate this time with going deep into my dad’s collection. Beyond Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and Ray Charles and all the way to Sonny and Cher and Roger Williams. I was really into Sonny and Cher for a few months, there. I have no defense.
However, I was never good at sewing. My fabric choices were odd, but also I’m not very detail-oriented, so often settled for “good enough.” Of course, clothes in the early ’80s were a little odd. My two favorite things were a shirt made out of silk jacket lining (with a wool bow-tie that matched the coordinating pencil skirt with kick pleat) and a shirt I made out of mattress ticking. That shirt was cool, but the ticking was an odd width and I didn’t quite have enough, so one placket was jiggy. The clothes I made didn’t fit well, had puckering and other issues, but I wore them anyway.
I was kind of dreading the duvet project, but in the end, it made me so happy to work on it. I clicked on the first in a long list of “Tiny Desk Concert” podcasts I had on iTunes and settled in. I think part of what I liked about sewing was the sense of having a whole day, or days, or even just an evening, to work on something. I never felt rushed. That came back to me yesterday. After the duvets I started on another project, the potato bags I mentioned in the last post.
Last year I paid $25 for two lovely blue felt potato bags. They worked very well, especially for my small red potatoes. But I could see from the Kenosha Potato Growers site that people use all sorts of things for grow bags, and there had to be a cheaper solution for expanding my potato operation.
One night in January I went down a Youtube wormhole and spent about two hours watching videos by “Larry from Brainerd.” Larry makes great grow bags out of landscape fabric and just closes the end with zip ties. Since 100 feet of landscape fabric costs about $30, I could see the definite possibilities! (Larry makes all kinds of things, including some very elaborate DIY watering systems.)
I had picked up the landscape fabric, zip ties, and some heavy duty black thread this weekend. And yesterday and today I made 10 bags in a couple hours! They are not fussy to make at all. I even stapled the edges (I made them double thickness because I got a mid-quality 4 ft landscape fabric and that made them sturdier and also the height I want.
I cut the fabric a little over 60″ wide, sewed one seam and then a zig-zag seam to reinforce.
I used a zip tie to secure one gathered end (the stapled/raw edge), and flipped them inside out. They are almost exactly the same size as the “professional” grow bags and even stand up on their own!
Here is Larry’s instruction video on the grow bags if you want to see how he does it.