When it was first suggested to him by his wife that Belle needed a sewing machine mechanic and that he was just the man for the job, Dave says he just broke up laughing at the absurdity of such an idea. Not him! He was into the manly stuff: power tools! electricity! mechanics!
Wait . . . sewing machines are mechanical power tools that use electricity, right?
So Dave took a look at the guts of his wife's sewing machine and became intrigued. Long story short, and Baby Lock technical training behind him now, Dave tackles whatever sewing machine challenges we throw at him from check-ups to broken parts.
What does a sewing machine mechanic do in his off-time? Plays with vintage cars, that's what! Specifically, a 1979 Trans Am that was originally his dad's driver.
As you can see, Dave keeps that baby in tip-top condition, cosmetically and mechanically.
Dave has 3 grown kids: Danielle, David and Jenna. Jenna's in Florida, but Danielle and David live locally and have provided him with a couple of grandsons, Garrett who is 16 and Parker who is just one.
Parker -- 4th generation Trans Am driver!
When he's not wrestling with sewing machines at Ragtime, Dave works at Rocking R Ace Hardware on High Street. He waits on customers and repairs power tools there. Next time you're in Rocking R, check out the guys in the red shirts. One of them may have just recently fixed your sewing machine!
Yep -- Dave's one of those Rocking R guys!
Nancy has a great idea for our blog and for our customers: an upholstery video tutorial series!
Looks pretty hopeless, doesn't it?
This piece of furniture has had a hard life and could easily have ended up at the dump, but Nancy rescued it recently. Shall we revive it? What kinds of materials, tools and skills will be needed? How complicated a project will this be?
We're going to post step-by-step videos of the project over the next few weeks. At the end of the project, the newly refurbished chair will be won by a lucky Ragtime customer.
To be eligible for the drawing, you only need to be a blog follower!
In fact, once we near the end, we'll choose the winner who will then be given the opportunity to choose the fabric that will cover the chair. If you win, you'll get a new piece that will fit right into your home decor.
Click here to sign up and stay tuned for our first video!
Talk about dedication! Even with a broken foot, Shellie's still coming to work. Thanks, Shellie! Keep that foot elevated!
Hard to believe, but it's been over two years since we moved from the old location near Court Square to our present address in Waterman Square Shopping Center. Moving so much inventory and so many store fixtures was a HUGE job! It was all we could do to get everything re-located and set up for business within just a few days.
926 West Market Street
Now that we're here and well settled in, we've been turning our attention to the way the goodies are displayed. Some ideas have been on the back burner with little time to put them into action. Some ideas we've picked up along the way from customer suggestions and business seminars. Recently, we've embarked on some serious re-arranging!
Samples of all the upholstery and drapery fabrics, both in-stock and special order
We've had a lot of success and customer compliments with our home decor samples of upholstery and drapery fabrics. Every special-order fabric as well as every fabric on big rolls in the back of the store is displayed in color families on the home dec sample rack. Customers can easily see what's in stock and narrow their browsing by color. We even allow borrowing . . . up to 5 samples for 3 days . . . to compare fabrics to carpeting, wall paint and other textiles at home. A great idea from one of our staff (thanks, Doris!) has turned into a great convenience for our customers.
We have some gorgeous lace and embroidered fabrics for customers making special garments like prom and wedding dresses. Because they are delicate and expensive, they are kept clean and dust-free in protective bags. Good idea . . . except that customers couldn't see them clearly or handle them. (You know that's a problem! We have to touch and feel fabrics before we buy!)
Not so easy to see or get to!
Well, the light bulb went off a few weeks ago! Why not hang touch-able, feel-able, see-able samples of all those stunning laces and embroideries where customers could actually reach them? Duh!
So we did!
The protective bags have been banished to a back room where they can be safe, and now our customers can actually see and touch the inventory. Much better!
I made some quick and easy zippered pouches as thank-you gifts for my helpers at the Shenandoah Valley Crank-In. They are lined. If you use the following construction method, all the seam allowances will be invisible, inside and out, for a super tidy finish! Here's a step-by-step guide for making them.
Materials you'll need for one pouch:
two 8" x 6" pieces of cotton woven fabric for the outside
two 8" x 6" pieces of cotton woven fabric for the inside lining
medium weight fusible interfacing for the outside fabric only
thread to match
one 12" zipper
two 3" pieces of 1/4" grosgraine ribbon
sewing machine with a zipper foot
iron and ironing surface
rotary cutter and mat (optional but helpful)
Begin by cutting out your fabric pieces. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the two outside fabric pieces only.
If you want to embellish your bag with machine or hand embroidery, an applique, or any kind of decorative stitching, do that first.
I used my Baby Lock Verve with a 4" x 4" hoop to create the embroidered frame and the words inside the frame. Since Verve has a memory function, I was able to save the design and use it repeatedly over several sessions of sewing.
Decide on the placement of your zipper, then slice off the top section of both the outside fabric and the inside lining.
I sliced off 1-3/4".
Pin the zipper face down on the right side of the outside fabric piece, matching the zipper tape with the upper edge of the fabric.
Let both ends hang past the fabric.
Place the piece of lining (of the same size) face down over the zipper, matching the edges. Re-pin securely.
Now the zipper is sandwiched between the outside fabric and the lining.
Install the zipper foot onto your machine. Stitch a 1/4" seam from one end of the zipper tape to the other end, removing the pins as you come to each one.
Using steam heat, press both the lining and the outside fabric away from the zipper.
Using the skinny pieces of outside fabric and lining (the ones you sliced off) repeat the above steps to finish sewing the zipper into the front of the pouch.
Give it another good pressing on both sides of the zipper on the outside and on the lining side.
Optional: If you want to topstitch along the two fabric edges next to the zipper tape, now's the time to do it. It's not necessary, but you might prefer how it looks.
Fold one piece of ribbon in half and place it as pictured with the folded edge towards the center of the zipper. Using a wide zig-zag at zero stitch length, sew a bar tack (several stitches back and forth) within the seam allowance area.
This will become one of the pull tabs for the zipper.
Open the zipper a couple of inches. Fold the other piece of ribbon and bar tack it in the same way at the other end of the zipper for the other pull tab.
The front of the pouch is all done now.
You might want to trim it all around just to even up the edges.
The zipper is secured at both ends so now you can slice off the parts of the zipper that were hanging past the fabric edges.
Open the zipper most of the way across the pouch.
Place the two outside fabric pieces (the one you just finished and the other plain one) right sides together.
Using a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch about 6" across the center bottom through both outside fabric pieces.
Flip the pouch over and use something round (the bottom of a thread spool is perfect) to mark rounded corners with a pen.
The ends of each round corner should be 1/4" from the edge of the fabric because your seam allowances will be 1/4" wide.
Flip the pouch over and place the other piece of lining on top of it with right sides together.
Sew a 1/4" seam around the pouch, starting and stopping at the two ends of the 6" stitching you already sewed. You will have a 6" opening at the bottom of the pouch when you finish this seam.
Trim the corners to 1/4" and clip almost to the stitching around the curves.
Turn the pouch wrong side out through the 6" opening.
You will be looking at the inside lining at this point.
Using a whip stitch or invisible stitch, hand sew the opening closed and press it lightly with the steam iron.
Since you left the zipper partially open you can now turn the whole pouch right side out through the zipper opening.
Give your pouch a good pressing on both sides with steam heat.
I've been a hand-knitter since I was a kid, but a few years ago,
I discovered another fun textile hobby -- circular sock knitting
My first one was a 1922 Home Profit Master Machine manufactured
in Rochester, NY. I found it in pieces in a wooden crate in an
antique barn on a trip to Maine. The original owner's manual was
with it so I was able to assemble it and get it cranking. Eventually,
I managed to produce a pair of socks!
I crank out socks for myself and my family and for gifts as well as
selling them occasionally at craft fairs and a local artisan's
gallery, Stoney Run in McGaheysville, in the fall and winter.
For several years now, I've organized a "crank-in" at Massanetta Springs Camp & Conference Center in May. We just had the 4th annual get-together there, and 52 crankers from 13 states showed up for three days of yarn-y fun with each other. It was a blast!
The conference room where everyone had a "cranking" space to work in.
If you're a knitter and think you might be interested in a sock machine, check out the CSM (circular sock machine) groups on Facebook or Ravelry.
I made some zippered accessory pouches for my helpers at the crank-in using my Baby Lock Verve. They are about 5" x 7" and turned out really well.
Stay tuned for a picture tutorial on how to make these quick and easy pouches -- you can embroider or applique them with your own design or just leave them plain. Each one takes about an hour to make, and can be made with leftover scraps of quilting cottons. They make great gifts as small jewelry or make-up bags!
Once upon a time in Polecat Hollow was a family named Good. This family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Good and their daughters, #1, #2, #3, and #4. They lived and worked happily on their small mountain poultry farm.
As time passed, the question remained. How long would this small family of girls remain intact?
Sure enough, one day, “Prince Charming” #1 came calling and
Daughter #3’s heart was smitten. Before long wedding bells
began to ring. An October wedding was planned, and a wedding dress needed to be made. Would you believe it?
This wedding dress was made from some free white fabric
and completed with lace bought from none other than Ragtime Fabrics! “The Wedding Dress” performed successfully, and the couple was sent happily on their honeymoon.
Lo and behold, “Prince Charming” #2, the twin brother of
#1, came calling next. This time it was Daughter #4 whose heart was smitten. Their wedding date was set 5 months
ater in February.
Since this daughter was a busy school teacher and needed
to make many plans for the wedding while teaching, she
opted to wear “The Wedding Dress." Once again, “The Wedding Dress” performed its duty and another happy couple was sent on their way.
Now, daughter #2 had a pillow which displayed her sentiments. She wasn’t going to be swept off her feet!
But…this time “Prince Charming” came in the form of
a tall, lanky, 6-footer. He, being Mr. Right, became the
next instigator in making wedding bells ring. Daughter
#2 being the no-nonsense, frugal, get-it-done person that she is, she decided “The Wedding Dress” was fine for her.
Sure enough, it performed beautifully, and another couple was sent off into the horizon!
Daughter #2 decided she no longer had use for her pillow and bequeathed
it to sister #1. Daughter #1 had many suitors who came and went, yet she remained single, waiting for Mr. Right. While waiting she joined the SAND club (Single and NOT Desperate). However, in this club was another non-desperate young fellow and HE became the next “Prince Charming."
Daughters #4, #3, and #2 joined in chorus, "You must wear The Wedding Dress!" Daughter #1 was happy to comply knowing the dress was well seasoned for such an event. Sure enough, the dress performed flawlessly, and the oldest daughter and Mr. Right were joined in holy matrimony.
“The Wedding Dress” lives happily ever after, hanging blissfully in a closet in Polecat Hollow. You never know what a free piece of fabric and a little lace bought from Ragtime Fabrics will do!!!
Editor's Note: This story is actually a true fairy tale from Thelma's family!
On June 4, we introduced some of the Ragtime staff. Here are the rest of us!
Lisa lives on a small farm with her husband, two kids, and lots of animals. She raises American Quarter horses when she isn't riding the trail, attending horse shows, or sewing and machine embroidering Western Pleasure show clothes and chaps. She swore she couldn't quilt, but Shellie's proving her wrong. Lisa recently finished her first quilt! Her grandma would be so proud of her!
Dave is our sewing machine mechanic extraordinaire! Dave's background is in industrial maintenance and the trade skills that go along with that work such as welding, electricity and mechanics. Originally from Pennsylvania, Dave's been here in the Shenandoah Valley since 1996. Dave's got 3 adult children and two grandboys, one a teen of 16 and the other just one year old. Dave's full-time job is at Rocking R Ace Hardware, but he comes into Ragtime once a week to work on whatever sewing machines need attention, whether it's just a check-up (adjusting, cleaning, lubricating) or repairs. He's had technical training with both Viking and Baby Lock.
Nancy's our newest addition, but she isn't new to sewing! Nancy got her sewing start in 4-H as a child. Her bachelors degree in home economics led her to a career in teaching and writing curriculum for grades 5-12 followed by a second career as the 4-H agent for Virginia Cooperative Extension. Nancy's interests cover a wide variety including clothing construction and tailoring, fashion design, machine embroidery, quilting, and upholstery. Having just moved here from New Jersey, Nancy is now closer to her two daughters and her two granddaughters.
Thelma and her husband, both Rockingham County natives, have been poultry farmers for 32 years and presently live in the Singers Glen area. With 4 grown daughters, 6 grandchildren and a very green thumb, Thelma keeps extremely busy at home. She has been creatively sewing quilts and clothes for many years. Besides bringing all that sewing knowledge to Ragtime, Thelma has expertise in computers as well so she is especially helpful with our laptops and computerized sewing machines!
Kathy has sewn all kinds of clothing from doll's clothes to wedding dresses. She's tackled slipcovers and draperies as well as quilting. She used to collect vintage Singers, but recently they've been replaced by antique sock knitting machines. Kathy has 2 grown kids and several grandchildren. A retired 4th grade teacher, she drove an ambulance for a few years and is now earning money for stash-enhancement here at Ragtime. Kathy manages Ragtime's website and marketing emails along with waiting on customers and teaching sewing classes.
Planning a BBQ or a party this summer? Here's a great idea for some cheerful placemats -- perfect for a Fourth of July celebration or anytime! Click on the picture for a supply list and instructions.
Even puppies like visiting us.
Max brought Ellie in for a little shopping today.
Max needed a down pillow form.
If you're a regular at Ragtime, you probably already know us -- or most of us. If you're not, we'd like to introduce ourselves!
Belle's the owner and manager of Ragtime Fabrics.
She opened the store in March, 2003.
(She doesn't sew . . . she just runs a sewing store . . . lol!)
She's married with two adult children.
And a nearly one year old grandson, Gavin.
So Belle's a new grandma! Mention it, and she'll show you pictures!
Sylvia's been at Ragtime about six years, and has a big hand in choosing our fabulous variety of garment fabrics. She's had many years of experience sewing uniforms and costumes for performing arts groups and their band, choral and theatrical productions. Sylvia demonstrates Baby Lock machines, trains staff, and teaches sewing lessons to adults and kids.
Her family includes her husband, a local obstetrician/gynecologist, as well as six adult children and several grandchildren.
Shellie's our Quilting Queen! Since the mid-1990's, piecing and quilting have been her passion. Shellie especially loves modern quilt designs using jewel tones and batiks. If you need quilting advice -- fabric selection, thread theory, free motion and long-arm quilting encouragement -- come talk to Shellie or take one of her quilting classes. She always gets 5 star reviews from her quilting students!
Shellie's got a JMU professor husband, an archeologist daughter and a son studying computer science and engineering at Princeton.
Kelly loves the creative process of women's fashions, draping of fabric, and pattern making. She worked with a designer in California as a pattern drafter and studied two years at the Copenhagen Fashion and Design School. She enjoys teaching sewing and is especially good with our kids' camp sessions. Kelly keeps track of order paperwork when she's not waiting on customers, selling Baby Lock machines or teaching classes.
Kelly's a newlywed and about to become a homeowner any day now!
~ Ragtime Staff
To be continued . . .
Yea! Memorial Day weekend! Three days to give thanks to the service men and women for the freedoms I enjoy and often take for granted, three days to relax and unwind. Did I do that? No! One aspect of the weekend could be considered traditional: a friend came to visit. But there was no barbecue, no hot dogs or burgers on the grill.
I bought a house here in January. I'm still in the process of moving things from New Jersey with my horse trailer and the assistance of family and friends on both ends. I had made some progress on getting things put away and getting rid of the boxes. My clutter-tolerance level is pretty high, but it does have a limit, to some extent dictated by my desire to sew. (I've been going through a bit of withdrawal.) Also, I'm anticipating the delivery of a long-arm quilting machine! So, although it wasn't perfect, I had cleaned things up enough that I could get a sewing fix when needed.
See? Very little clutter!
But then things exploded!
So much for de-cluttering!
I haven't had television since I moved. My friend brought an antenna and spent a lot of time putting it on the roof, then mounting the television on the wall. It made me gasp to see all of my sorting and cleaning work evaporate! Even though I knew it was temporary, I had to bite my tongue so I didn't sound unappreciative. On the good side though, I now have about 5 stations I can watch, and I can play my DVDs. All good.
One of my sewing rooms (yes . . . I bought a house with space for two sewing rooms!) is going to accommodate two embroidery machines and the long-arm quilting machine when it's delivered. There's a perfect wall for the embroidery machines . . . with no outlets. This job was a bit easier because there was no sheet rock on the back side of the wall, and there was an outlet dangling from its wire on the inside, an easy source of power (something the building inspector missed . . . oops!). The challenge was to locate which breaker in the three circuit breaker boxes controlled the outlet. That took us most of the day on Saturday, a much easier job with two people, night lights, and cell phones.
Now I have 3 outlets on that wall!
There is a walk-in closet next to the room where we put the outlets, the perfect space for my fabric stash storage. But it was a mess, just piles of plastic tubs and cardboard boxes. Now there are 4 shelves and some organization.
I still need to put some labels on tubs, but the shelves made a huge difference.
The lawn mower needed fixing. (I had hit a hidden, almost rotten branch and bent one of the blades.) There was a lot of energy spent on trying to get the blades off, but we finally found the right power tool and did it. Then, working in tandem, we got the grass cut.
Then something that wasn't on the list at all: an old metal shed not located where I would put a shed and in poor condition. I grabbed a screwdriver just to test one of the screws to see if it would turn. It did! I tested another. Before I knew it, this became the next job. Of course, not all of the screws came out as easily as the first dozen. Finishing took a sledge hammer and a drill, but the job is done and the yard looks so much better!
Now you see a shed . . . . . . now you don't!
It wasn't exactly a relaxing weekend, but it certainly was rewarding. What a difference a couple of days and an extra pair of highly skilled hands made, thanks to my friend!
Our Ragtime Staff