I have done a lot of sewing for a lot of people...mostly things like hems, zippers, and pillows or cushions. Occasionally, though, I'm asked to make something that's really unusual. I'm actually thankful for that. I like the opportunity to solve the puzzle.
I met a guy while I was sewing patches for the local Harley Davidson dealership. He is a trapper and had 24 fox pelts. He wanted them made into a blanket. I wish I had a picture of the pelts when I got them . . . all strung together on a piece of coat-hanger with ears, noses, feet and tails attached! Unfortunately, I don't have that picture, but here they are all piled up on a bed.
I'll confess I'm not a hunter, and I don't deal with dead things very well at all so when I was handed the hanger, I had to take a minute to remind myself to breathe . . . among other things.
My cat, Jack, helped me while I was splitting and trimming the pelts. I had to get them into a shape that I could put together somewhat flatly. The animals were all different sizes to start, so the resulting rectangles weren't all the same size.
All cutting is done from the skin side of the pelt, not the fur side. There were thinner and thicker areas of skin, and there were holes where trap damage had been done. I had to cut around these things while trying to keep as much usable pelt as possible. When done, I laid everything out on a bed to fit the pieces together, keeping all of the fur going in the same direction.
I pushed the fur out of the way and reinforced the seams with tape to keep the stitches from tearing out of the leather. Fox hide is quite soft so I was able to sew it with my conventional machine. Even the seam intersections weren't a problem.
I had to cover the seams with something. I chose black fleece. I couldn't attach the fleece to the pelts through the middle of the blanket, so to keep the fleece from rolling to the fur side around the edges, I hand-sewed the tails around the edges along the sides and along the top where the fur had its origin. The fur concealed the fleece on the fourth side because of the direction of the fur growth. (The hair hung off of the edge.)
Here's the finished blanket. And yes . . . it's VERY warm!
Just another tidbit: I did not “let” the fur as a furrier would have. This would have meant cutting the pelts into very narrow strips and sewing the strips closely together onto a fine netting. The spacing is close together so the netting isn't visible. Had I done that, it would have made the finished blanket lay flatter. It also gives fur pieces a softer drape and would have made it about twice as big . . . but it would have taken a lot longer to do.
This project was a challenge, but what a thrill to see the finished product! I also made a pillow out of the scraps. Just had to!
My husband and I went to the fourth annual Roanoke Railroader, a contra dance weekend in Salem, Virginia. There were fourteen two-hour dance sessions between Thursday night and Sunday afternoon, with a potluck, roller skating (and contra dancing on roller skates!), hiking, mountain biking, and laser tag mixed in between.
There were three or four bands, and a DJ spinning pop music. Where our local dance may have thirty people dancing in one line, the Railroader in Salem had two hundred people dancing in four or five. There was often a "chaos line", where the "lady" and "gent" are really "lead" and "follow". Who's dancing which role changes often and shenanigans ensue, leading to a great t-shirt slogan: "Dance with who's comin' at ya!"
It's a good motto because everyone makes mistakes while dancing. They take the wrong step, get off the rhythm--my husband spun someone from the wrong line!--and you just have to keep going. All of this amid a whirl of skirts filling the room with color, cheers from the dancers for good music, the stomp of two hundred feet, and sooooo much laughter.
When my feet needed a rest, I sat down and enjoyed the music, while learning a couple of new board games with new friends and old. The majority of people came from within a couple of hours north or south--between Philadelphia and Wilmington, NC--but there were some from Oregon, and one couple from Australia.
We have to wait until next year for the fifth Railroader, but my husband and I are already looking forward to it, and to the Winter Dream in Dayton this January!
My parents invited me to come along and see my father's mandolin teacher play at a contra dance back in 2005. At first I said "No." I loved dancing, but wouldn't know anyone there and would feel like a wall flower.
Little did I know how that night would change my life!
First, a bit of an overview.
Contra dancing, in a nut shell, is a form of dancing that goes back about 300 years. Generally there is a caller, a band and sets of dancers. If you've ever square danced, contra will make a lot of sense. Each person has a partner -- men ask women to dance and vice-versa -- and two pairs of partners form a set. The lady is always on the right. Sets of four stand in a line. The music repeats after sixty-four beats, with eight measures of eight beats. A band plays music you'd call "Bluegrass" or "Appalachian" -- sometimes "Celtic" is common.
The dance itself is made up of "figures," movements that usually take eight to sixteen beats to complete. The last figure will send one couple one direction along the line and another couple the other. At the end of the line, you get 64 beats of rest and then come back the other direction. The caller will announce the steps in order and will usually give a quick walk-through of each dance. After a dance finishes, people catch their breath , then find a new partner, and a new dance commences.
As you might have guessed, I did end up going to hear my father’s teacher play. I danced every dance, with everyone there, and met a wonderful new community of people. Of course, it wasn't a trouble-free experience; I had been smiling so much that my face was sore the whole next day -- I was hooked!
Eventually I became a volunteer for the dance in Harrisonburg, and one day danced for the first time with the man I would marry two years later.
It's hard to imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't let my parents talk me into coming along that first night!
Have you ever wondered why Belle likes to burn fabrics? To the average person it might look like she just likes setting fabrics on fire but in fact she is doing a burn test.
Burn tests are the best way to find out what fibers might be in a fabric. We get a lot of closeout fabrics here at Ragtime and don’t always receive the fiber content. A burn test helps us to conclude what the fiber is. Burn tests are not 100% conclusive, but they help tremendously in determining what fibers are in a fabric.
A burn test will help us tell if the fabric is natural or synthetic. Each fiber has a different color, smell and ash. Using all three helps us fine-tune our assessment of what the fiber content might be. Unfortunately with blends, we will not be able to tell you percentages of fibers, but we can tell you what type of fibers are in the blend. We are attaching a link from Threads magazine of a burn test if you wish to try it at home. The printable guide is a great resource.
Helpful Burn Charts from the Domestic Geek Girl Blog.
A rare sighting of an endangered species -- Belle working at the serger! LOL!
It's so cute to see how hard she's concentrating!
Ragtime was closed to commemorate Independence Day, and some of us found each other in downtown Harrisonburg in the afternoon. The Farmer's Market pavilion was bustling with vendors and visitors all celebrating the 4th of July on Wednesday.
The food trucks were all out in force with their delicious offerings. Mmmmm, the paella! the gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches! the gelato!
There was a classic car show going on in the adjacent parking lot. Ted Tallent's 1932 Ford pick-up truck was on display. When Ted built this hot rod, he covered the bench seat with leather he found at Ragtime!
Belle's grandson Gavin found Ted's truck very tempting. That leather seat was pretty comfortable for this new driver!
I have simple traditions: the Christmas Baked Olive Cheese Balls and English Trifle, New Year's Day hikes, a "Happy Birthday!" banner I string across the fireplace when celebrating a loved one's special day. One of my few 4th Of July traditions is to attend the Celebrate America! performance. The show is held at Harrisonburg High School every July 3.
The Shenandoah Valley Choral Society joins with the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Concert Band to share their musical talents with our community. The theme of the evening is remembrance and honor of our heritage through ballads, folk songs, show tunes and patriotic numbers.
As I observe the performers, my heart swells with appreciation for each neighbor on the stage, sharing his and her talents in such a lovely manner. I love music, most genres, and always the selections I hear at the annual concert. This year, among my favorites: "Nine Hundred Miles," "It Had To Be You" and "Moon River".
However, the highlight of the evening is always the salute to the veterans in the audience. As the band and Choral Society play the anthem of each respective branch, veterans and active members stand and are applauded by the audience. Some stand at attention, others are more subdued, but they all seem to appreciate the applause and the waving flags.
And, every year, I shed a tear or two as my heart swells with respect and gratitude for the dedication and sacrifice of each member and their families. Then, the band plays, "Stars And Stripes Forever".........
Thank you for your service, thank you for my freedoms, and may God bless America!
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!
Talk about dedication! Even with a broken foot, Shellie's still coming to work. Thanks, Shellie! Keep that foot elevated!
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.
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!
I enjoy yard sales. It's just fun to shop for bargains and to explore what others cast away. Last summer I found a true treasure.
It was late in the afternoon, always a good time to get the best
prices. A shabby rocking chair caught my eye. Someone’s favorite,
it had been used well, then stored for a long time. The back was
hanging in shreds, with no seat at all. It was impossible to
test its comfort, but I fell in love with the shape and the potential.
I also fell in love with the price: FREE!
I took it home, stripped it, and removed all the
tacks. It was very sturdy, no loose joints or
cracks in the wood. After some sanding and
three coats of polyurethane, it looked like
a chair again. Its age? It's a style that was
used over several decades.
The original seat as well as the back were underpinned with webbing which is lighter and less expensive than wood, but I opted to replace the webbing in the seat with a piece of cut-to-fit plywood. Plywood makes the chair heavier, but it won't sag. I topped the plywood with 3” thick foam, softened with a layer of batting, and the seat was ready for a cover. I used the traditional webbing for the back and topped that with 1.5” foam, also softened with some batting.
I realized that the chair would look good in many different fabrics – I had a lot of options. The fabric I chose was a bold choice, but it really caught my eye at Ragtime! I carried my chair into the store. Yeah, they probably thought I was nuts, but no one said a word. (I've always loved Ragtime! Great people!)
Assembly of the cover took only a couple of hours using an electric staple gun. I worked on the seat first. The plywood was separate from the chair. Once I had the fabric design centered, I fastened the front and back, working to keep the tension on the fabric even and to prevent pulling the design off center. Then I mitered the corners, worked the sides down, and put it back into the chair. Voila! It had a finished seat!
Next was the visible side of the chair’s back. I started with the design centered and wrapped the fabric over the top. The fabric was stapled across the rear of the top rail, low enough that those staples would be covered later. I wrapped the remaining edges around to the back and secured them with staples. It was a bit tricky to staple the areas where the arms joined the frame, and of course, through this whole process, I had to keep the chair from rocking. Some of my working poses weren't exactly graceful!
I always find it amazing the first time an upholstered piece finally takes on its finished appearance. I love it! But...there was still one more side to finish...the rear of the chair back.
I cut a rectangle of fabric large enough to cover the
back, again keeping the design centered. Then I
flipped the fabric and stapled it in place across
the top rail through a tack strip, a narrow lightweight
trip of cardboard, to form a straight edge. To soften
the back, I added a layer of batting. Then I folded the
sides and stapled everything in place. Done!
Well, almost. I should cover the underside with a dust cover. It's not visible so who knows...maybe I'll be
changing the fabric again before I get to that last step!
Some people know me as the friendly, outgoing saleslady from Ragtime. Some people know me as the former 4-H leader who had almost sixty 4-Her’s in her club. But most people don’t know that I have a secret passion.
I raise Quarter Horses. Over the years, several Quarter Horses. However, I haven’t had many as special as my newest addition.
Friends, meet Silas! This little guy entered the world on May 6.
Silas was the reason I was a little tired the next day at work. He decided to make his arrival at midnight!
The joy I feel watching every foal grow to a spectacular horse is like no other. My family shakes their heads when I walk outside and receive a choir of whinnies from the field. My equine friends just want to say, "Hi."
So, if you find me looking off into nowhere, when I should be more focused on cutting fabric or straightening shelves, this is where my mind is….
Did you know that Ragtime Fabrics is owned and managed by someone who doesn't know much about sewing? And isn't really much interested in sewing?
Belle is the first to admit that the higher end Baby Lock sewing machines . . . well, let's just say
she finds them somewhat challenging.
Whuuuuuut??? That's crazy, right?
Years ago, I ran into Belle when I was shopping at The Fabric Shop on Court Square here in Harrisonburg. Michael the owner was on the verge of retiring and I, along with his other customers, was wondering what we'd do without a local sewing store. When Belle told me she was thinking about taking over the business, I was startled.
"I didn't know you sewed!" I exclaimed with the same delight I always feel when I discover a friend shares one of my favorite hobbies.
"Oh, I don't," she breezily replied.
This is what Belle's day OFF looks like! Cleaning up behind the store.
Over the next few months, I felt so worried, sad and apprehensive for Belle. Such a nice person. Such a shame that she was going to fail spectacularly in just a few months with her crazy idea of running a fabric store as a non-sewer!
And, selfishly, I was dismayed that the new store -- obviously! -- would be entirely inadequate since she didn't know the first thing about sewers and what they want.
Boy, was I wrong! Fifteen years later, Ragtime Fabrics is going strong with Belle at the helm.
I've often mused to myself how ironic it is.
Putting fabric away in the stock room.
Back in the 1980's, I owned a yarn shop. I'm an avid knitter -- so what better business for me to run, right? Well, I nursed it along for four years before facing reality (not enough customers, not enough sales). I realize in retrospect that I had very opinionated ideas about the yarns I carried (and those that I refused to sell). I was way too emotionally invested in the hobby to objectively judge how to run the business successfully.
I think now that one of Belle's many strengths as a business owner is that she is NOT into sewing. She doesn't make judgments about what her customers should want to buy...she carries what her customers do want to find in their local fabric shop, whether it's the finest laces and pure linen yardage or a neon-colored, zig-zagged striped polyester!
It's a wonder Belle isn't bald by now!
Next time you're in Ragtime, ask Belle how to sew a French seam or insert a zipper into the side of a bodice. She'll cheerfully admit she hasn't a clue and will call over an employee who can explain. But if you want her to carry a certain sewing tool or special order some purple vinyl for you, she'll be all ears and will do her best to provide you with it.
I'm thinking that may be why she's still in business and I'm not...lol!
Our Ragtime Staff