Saturday, July 5, 2014

I am not Betsy Ross

I will never be mistaken for Betsy Ross, but yesterday after my daughter spurned my pastry making skills (uh, I'm also not the Cheryl of Cheryl's Cookies) I turned to a project I'd planned to foist off on my sister Donna, who may well be the reincarnation of Ms. Ross.

Our kitchen counter bar stools are great and we like them but the seats have taken a beating over the years. We patched them with colorful duct tape a couple of years ago and that held up well for a while. But the more we plopped and shifted and scooted, the more the tape unstuck. As it worsened, you'd find yourself stuck to the chair if you weren't careful. 

The kitchen towels we tossed on top of the seats just weren't cutting it, either. I ripped off the total-duct-tape cover last week and used a bunch of Goo-be-gone to get the adhesive debris off. Then I patched down the rips and worn spots.

Alison and I spent an hour or so at the fabric store looking for something that would liven up the kitchen and work with our Fiesta Ware dishes. We ended up having to order what we wanted and while I was describing my project, it occurred to me that the bolt of plain blue valance over the sink had been one of my more lazy home decor decisions.

The old curtain had been dirty and boring when it caught my attention one morning. I found a replacement at Target and it's hung in my kitchen for about 13 years. I thought having the curtain match the seats would be even more fun. So of course I bought about 12 times the fabric I needed. 

As Independence Day was approaching, and our annual visit down to Donna's, I will admit that my first thought was to beg for her help. She has about 17 fancy sewing machines and she actually knows how they work. I just needed a little hemming and a slot for where the curtain rod would go through.

Sure, it's her birthday today. (And a big one, too!) But we're bringing fireworks and Alison's fancy desserts. And she LOVES to sew. Right?! It's not an imposition at all...

But then Ali kicked me out of the kitchen.  Jeff was out tightening my bike's kickstand and assembling his buckets of tubes for fireworks at Donna's. The fabric pile was the only thing demanding my attention.  So I got my sewing basket out and decided I could do it myself.  

My entire sewing operation fits in a medium sized Longaberger basket. Donna has more types of scissors than I have thread and buttons. Jeff has a great bromance going with our local tailor. Said tailor tolerates me and didn't even laugh out loud at one of my hemming jobs once. At least not while I was in the shop.


Jeff may have walked through when I was muttering or cursing to myself. He offered to do the chair cushions. It's a project better suited to him, truth be told. He has more patience in his little finger than I have in my whole body. He does have big hands. But still.

So for most of the morning, Alison baked, I sewed and Jeff re-upholstered the bar stools. We were like a family on Conner Prairie.

Jeff and Ali even indulged my playing of WFMS. I'd actually blocked the way to the stereo so they didn't have a huge choice but it was great. Lots of patriotic country tunes were warming us up for the Indians game and fireworks downtown.

Just so you know, hand-stitching is no fun. I don't know why anyone would do it voluntarily. I'm pretty sure it was punishment back in the days of yore. And had I lived then, I'm certain I'd be a scullery maid rather than a tapestry maker.  Or maybe a bar maid. Anything but someone who had to make even stitches.


I only cursed a little bit, didn't bleed at all, and had to tear out only one set of stitches. I kept remembering the lady at the counter at JoAnne Fabrics who was patiently waiting her turn and engaged us in long conversation. "If sewing was hard, there wouldn't be sweatshops," she said.

I suppose. But even sweat shops have machines. I had a needle and thread. I'm pretty sure my 7th grade home economics teacher would not be impressed with my work. But I kind of like it. Also, I'm short, so I can't really see the top of the curtain where most of the stitching is. 

After a long night out -- the game went into extra innings, which is great if you're a baseball fan -- though we ended up losing by 1.  

The downtown fireworks was already going off as the game went on, and there were fireworks on the field after. On the way home -- top down of course -- we saw more fireworks. One grouping was going off with the moon in the background.

All in all, a pretty good Independence Day. Although it was really sad to wake up to news some goober took out a gun on Broad Ripple Avenue to settle a fight. Seven people are now wearing bullet wounds, and one may be seriously injured. Not getting on a soap box but it sure would be nice to find a way to keep hands in the guns of only those who can use them wisely.

But I'm not talking about that today. Today it's Aunt Donna's birthday and we have this bit of artwork to master. No sewing required. I hope.

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