Tag Archives: recycling

How to thread elastic without loosing your money or your mind.

Sometimes we look at something so simple, watch someone do it and think “I got this.” It wasn’t until I started taking heir-looming classes that all the itty-bitty things and boo-boos I was doing started to really come out. The tiny tricks of the trade can make you re-think what you are doing right down to the tools you use and the steps you take.  Now I learned most of my stuff from my Mom. I remember actually explaining somethings to my Home ec teacher in highschool! But..

The real head spinner for this old-gal, learning all this stuff in the context of here and NOW, can really be really different. Ya-know… I darn near BUY all that new fangled stuff to get things done. I am glad some lovely women are using their skills and coming up with fancy smancy do-dads to get sewing projects done but…. The voice of reason always taps me on the shoulder now and says “Wait a minute! You got 12 rulers at home already honey!” I can just imagine all those New sewers becoming overwhelmed at the supplies they think they need! One of these topics concerns the simple and no cost ways to thread elastic through a casing.

The picture at the start shows 3 ways I will talk about, that I use these days.

A threader a safety pin and a home-aide bodkin.

I do have a fancy threader (I got years ago) that cost me an entire dollar. I have unfortunately spent a lot of money on turning tubes and other fancy gadgets that went into the trash after 1 use. The Dritze threader is still under $3 and there is a Japanese on on-line that is metal for 2 dollars. As Always ADD IN shipping and, your little deal just became a Non-deal.(total for a dritz threader order is almost $10..I just checked.)So what are you supposed to do?

Skip past the threader for a look at the old ways!

  1. 1st measure the elastic length you need by using your pattern guide or
  2. Take a piece and wrap i,t pulling just slightly, around the arm or leg of the person you are sewing for (not tight!) .Pleave a pin at the length you just measured.  Leave at least an inch on each end to “fiddle with”, (I like to leave 2 inches because I have fumble fingers) and cut the elastic strip.
  3. Now check that your tool will fit the casing.

4. If it doesn’t fit scroll down to the safety pin or blunt needle section.

5. Attach it to your “tool”. I like to tie mine but some use a safety pin. Keep reading for the trouble I have with safety pins. leave at least an inch on each end to “fiddle with”.


6. I double the elastic when I pin it to make sure I have some bulk to stop at the opening.

7. Now all you have to do is pull the tube backwards throough the casing. Do this slowly, trying to keep the elastic from twisting.

8. Once you get to the end, contrary to simple thought, you need to anchor that puppy with 2 pins, especially if it is tiny elastic. You may THINK that 1st one has it anchored but …if not you just made more work and frustration for yourself.I do not cut the extra off. There is more to do now.


Options of threading elastic using tiny baby elastic 4
Pinning tiny elastic well to avoid loosing the ends

9. I need to measure the gathered area. If I have “slipped up and gotten it too tight, no is the time to figure that out, not after you sew it down.

Measuring to make sure I don't cut off the circulation to some poor child's toes-ies!

10. Now to the machine. I have pins sticking out and need to place it so that it doesn’t miss the elastic when it stitches nor break the needle. I place the pins like so, pointed in a specific direction, so that I can remove them easily when the time is right.

Placing the anchored elastic for stitching under the presser foot

11.  I do the one closest first using a 1.5 stich length and go over it 3 times back and forth. Then I move the fabric over to the other pin appoz 1/4 inch away. and place the foot firmly on the area right over the pin. THEN i can remove the pins.


Options of threading elastic using tiny baby elastic 1
Second anchor stitch placement


Removing the pins after pressor foot is DOWN.

12.  After sewing, you can SEE why I needed to do this. The elastic ooched it’s way from the foot and movement of the feed dogs up. If I hadn’t done all this it would have slipped, twisted and..frustration gallor!

2 Anchor stitches holding 1/8 inch elastic firmly for baby clothing
Neat and secure.

Safety pens to the rescue (and other ways)

Historiccally. We did not have these neat threaders. They are relatively new and affordable thanks to plastic (and trade agreements:). There is another way to do this and spend NO money to get that elastic through.

The first way is using a safety pin or blunted large eyed needle or old bodkin.

When using a safety pin you need to know few things to make it work:

  1. Fold the elastic over on itself as pictured. Pressure from pulling it through the casing will fray it and it will come apart INSIDE your casing (time wasting and frustrating, after digging it out, re-threading etc, you are exhausted and need a vacation!))
  2. Make SURE your safety pin clasp head closes securely. These day the little boogers are not as well made as in the past. The clasp doesn’t hold and pops open. You loose the elastic and the thing is stuck inside your casing OPEN. Nasty situation involving seam ripping sometimes. If my pin is “iffy” I have a pair of pliers I can use to mash it totally closed. I would rather throw the thing away afterward than go through seam ripping and re-sewing.

A bodkin is an old idea. Go here to see what it is. (NEAT place). You can buy cheap platic ones or make your own with a large eyed tapestry or upolstrey needle. Just file it down to blunt.

It works for those tiny casings. There is a problem with your figures holding on however…. It is difficult to grasp as you work the needle through the casing and is slower than either of the other methods however but,when using <1/4 casings, nothing else may fit! Go slow and be careful not to accidentally pierce the fabric inside the casing. I did one leg using this method.

Using a large eyed blunt needle to thread tiny elastic through a casing on a baby outfit.

You can buy bodkins modern kinds… (with a price I find hysterical. They are flimsey blunted things that look like they cost a cent to make  I can not believe people actually spend money on those things but hey…Go with what makes you comfortable.)

If you ever find an historic one of bone spend that money and send me a pic!

Here is a sight that carries them in bone and wood. The site is fascinating for those of us who love old things and the old ways!


I remember my great-grandmothers that was made by her grandfather. Long gone now as those in the “they know not what they do” category threw away (like in the dumpster!) all of her sewing stuff. I have the thimbles, pin cushions, patterns, books and sewing table because Lady Iris Jean was smart enough & humble enough to actually jump in said dumpster and try and save what she could….oh for that bodkin though! But thanks Mom for the things I do have. They are priceless when I sit down and use something I know my mom’s mom’s mom’s mom was sitting and using 100 years ago!


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Eye candy update

Check out the Fb page for a preview of things at the studio.

Heirloom lace skirt- for Missy S.


When I die, I say just pile all that lace on top and leave me naked.
Remember the saying “She who dies with the biggest stach wins.”…???

Yeah, It’s like that.


Grand-baby coming in a couple of weeks and this place is not baby proofed. Gotta get busy wrapping some things up and fast! I spent 2 hours removing antiques from the guest room this morning (things that little hands can demolish). Jeff is going through and rehanging things with SCREWS…he envisions her to be a spider monkey capable of scaling walls with suction-cup like fingers. Ha!

Have a great day and enjoy the eye candy!

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Staring at Lace, conversing with my….. self?

Staring at Lace…I get the design board up to the lace part,and then I just STARE at it.

I have an enormous collection. It started when I wanted to get married in a gown covered in bits and pieces of scraps of lace in 2001. I found one…
It was $3000. I gagged, but was able to stop what followed only because I was wearing it. We went with a more flat style with scraps of lace on handkerchiefs with the date embroidered on them and an awesome Red velvet cape.

Red cape sans lace

But I started collecting scraps and bits, at close outs and at garage sales.
I had a daughter who was going to be of marrying age in a few years, like if, THAT ever happened….

She married at 2 am in Las Vegas in a pin-up girl style and dress in 2009 …BLAST, it was not (I’m too old for that caarap)…Sing with me now,… “I did it mmmyyyyyy wwwaaayyyyy”.

2 much at 2 am

So I HAVE all this LACE. I feel like I’m married to it somehow. I mean…what if it’s the wrong decision, what if I have to take it off, that’s a booger to do. But I get it in placed, and I’ll be attaching it on a sleeve after FINALLY deciding “this tea dyed french 2 inch would look incredible on a frothy soft blue top.”

I sit and pause as the machine starts to whine and I stop mid-stitch and think,
“Oh good grief, you aren’t marrying it for GODs sakes”….see what I mean.

One batch of lace layed out, I have way more...

Then comes…
“Well that’s just too plain, maybe we should improve on the plan”.


This is a red flag. This is NOT a good thing.
Improving on the plan usually gets me a flustered raving pouting mess…

I like these but...

I like these but...

And I just used these on this skirt

So I keep going. Thank goodness it’s time for a break.

Tea time with SELF

I almost messed with the plan.Thank the powers that be,… it ended before it started. It would inevitably ended up with me staring at the lace again (all 4000 or so yards of the stuff) and getting nothing done.

I say…,” Hay self, why do you do that?
Self says,”Is it because it’s pretty?”
“Na, that’s not it, I mean it is pretty and all but that’s not it.”
“Well, what the hell is it self?”
“Maybe you are superstitious, and think if you use it …I don’t know something will happen?”

“Na, it’s like eye candy,it makes me smile to look at it…I just love it!”

“Na, that’s stupid. You are just a 2 year old who doesn’t want to share.”

“Yeah, THAT could be it… You never did like to share either.”

Our store and children’s books can be found at:


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Filed under classic, edwardian, etsy, Geneology, handmade, ladyirisjean, old timer, sewing, victorian age, white cotton

etsy sewing and and my closet

Cleaning out my closet because I had lost my favorite jeans last week I was thinking about taking the old ways into the 21st century certainly gets me to thinking. I lined it all up like I was taught…let’s see how long it stays that way!


As far back as the 1100’s a decent “wardrobe” cost the equivalent of a years income. Can you imagine spending your entire years earnings on one single member of your family? I can’t. Even when It’s a year to replace things or I’ve gotten a huge job/promotion, I could not even play act that one! Maybe those with money to burn can like Paris Hilton but still…

The interest on her trust fund makes it so she doesn’t match THAT in wardrobe alone. But lets not go that way here and now. My point is where would you put it all now???! In history we are talking about 14-21 full dresses with underthings. Or for Men several serviceable suites, formal wear and hunting cloths.

When I started doing historical and heirloom sewing it fascinated me that THAT could be a fact, and how unnecessary it all was. I spent hours creating “cheaper” ways to sew stuff. And what I got was cheap clothing. Yes it lasts, still have my original chemise and it holds together but there is a “feel” to a well made garment. Think about going to “Needless mark-ups” and looking at their peasant blouses. Bare minimum is around $120.00 and you CANT wash it. If you’ve got that much money then you probably take stuff to the dry cleaners I guess. But the feel of the fabric, the tight weave, and the detailed construction makes you pause at the Wally world Serged shirt from Asia and think, “YUCK”.

Now what do you do about kids?!!! Their cloths have to last through what they get into but just long enough until the next growth spurt. It does make you appreciate the throw away stuff that you can buy, that is “in style”. But I still cringe and think about dropping that $5 bill in the trash when I find that shirt that didn’t make it through the laundry!

Sewing for them is not even possible most times now as fabric now costs the same $10-20 that it would cost to just buy it and get back to work. So what is a Mom to do?

Well how about “have it made” here on Etsy, sure it’s a little more but the kids resale shops are more than willing to help when they grow out of things. If they have tags and are professionally made they are still worth something. I have looked and looked. And these are a few things that I have learned from the real Lady Iris Jean!

1. What was passed on to me and, that I have passed on to my child, about quality and “you get what you pay for”…People pick up my example not my words. Any parent know this, or figures it out FAST.

2. Me and my daughter chose our own style and colors for our cloths and our house not from What NY,NY runway or even from Cosmo’s idea about what I should be wearing.(Ever seen The Devil Wears Prada?) We got it from quality- minded choices. Conscious thought out choices about what/how our hard earned funds could be stretched to last. We also did not want to conform to the masses.

3. We wanted what WE wanted and loved. Things that felt right, were comfortable, expressed our individuality. What we all found was that our choices were usually one the Paris and NY runways and home décor stores with in 3-5 years. They got it from us has always been the joke at our house!

3. We found affordable fabrics that LAST, and low and behold they were the natural fibers like cotton, linen, silk. We found people and shops in the market place that understood this and bought that $120 shirt for $80. One at a time, in our personal color schemes and Viola’, We all ended up with cloths that only need to be replaced every 4-7 years. Talk about budget! If I only buy jeans and NICE tee-shirts that I can mix with my classics then my budget has more for, gas, those tires that need replacing, that tutor that my child needs and a loaf of bear and milk.

4. Vintage and repurposed items are cost effective. They also are VERY individualized to a specific personal style. They are awesome for the tween and the teens and again so cost effective. One of my favorite Mom sewn dresses was a multicolored pieced prairie dress with lacing up the front and back in 1970. I loved Laura Ingrams dress on Little House on the Prairie so she grabbed some old cloths and Tada!!! It was very unusual and with in 2 years the style hit the runways and stores! Tres’ chic !

5. Kids clothing unless home schooled these days, are usually uniform based for most of the week days. Individual style is lacking. They crave expression. They love comfortable natural fibers for play, but they like to get dressed up. So look for those $1-3 dollar play cloths at the resale shops. And buy quality accessories and clothing for play dates and outings. They like to feel pretty too.

I remember the time when I said I would NEVER buy anything but the best and Wally could get lost…. Pretty much have done that only in a little different way.

I do not have the funds for the $120 dollar shirt. I know only maybe one Lady in Dallas that can do so these days. But, what I Did start doing was buying classic construction and fabrics that cost 3 times more per item. What happened was I now have a closet full of cloths from the last 8 years that are like new.

I learned how to care for them in a meticulous but reasonable manner. Learned it from THE Lady Iris Jean herself we called her “THE Mimi”.

I would walk in her closet and her skirts shirts and jackets would be hanging inside-out in a little section, another section held those she had just aired out9turned right side out), another section where those needing pressed next and the last section was just from the dry cleaners. She said that if you wore your stuff once and didn’t get into a sweaty situation and took them off when getting home then each outfit could go “3 wears” before she had to send it off or steam it herself.

Lady Iris Jean was quite brilliant. I still wish I could get so organized!

The care of natural fibers takes time. Decadent time.!

My general clothing care does not take as much time as it seems. My products are sent with those instructions in each package from my etsy store because it is information that is getting lost in the world of “made in (you name a country”).

I tend to procrastinate doing it myself but I remind myself that I am not running all over town on stressful shopping trips either, burning gas and buying stuff . Stuff I will never wear more than once. I am at home passing it on, living by example and I am shopping with those in my community (state and country) who need the business and care about my individuality.

As I finished my closet I thought, wow, Thanks Lady Iris Jean for all that you gave us!

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Lace, machines, old fashioned cleaning and Lady Ga Ga

Going to finish those 2 Baby girl dresses today.
Yummy Battenburg lace with some type of soft satin sash and a baby slip with heirloom layered lace skirt to dress up any dress, not just this baby dress.

Yum, Yum lace. Love it and the collection is still growing. I admit the craving and the manageability of it all. Oh I miss that tatted collar I put on that wedding dress. It was so heavenly and delicate!

I have looked and looked for some nice old fashioned aprons to keep grand babys dresses clean looking and can’t find any. Also can’t find any baby girl slips that are made of natural fibers. Ick! the thought of scratchy polyester next to a baby girls skin still just doesn’t sit right with me.

The only one left in my family that remembers what I remember…ironing, vacuuming the ceiling and dusting shelves…says that “that generation(our Mom’s) had the time to do that and we just don’t we have a life”. Hmmmm, yeah….I still do it even working and in the Military!

There is just something special to walk in your home with a clean smell and…a glow…just aren’t words. It’s called spring and holiday cleaning.
I simply can not create unless things are at least ordered in stacks!

Mom …she did contributed to the economic stimulus by hiring someone to do it. I would if I could find someone but haven’t since 2000 when maids stared banding together for the quick clean companies.

Well That new serger is calling my name but the dreads have got me.
No, no computer on the thing but this week my kinetic energy related to electronics has been cursed. Not as badly as usual but still, makes me nervous.

The hand drafting is so easy compared to actually getting a machine to work sometimes. I did take the 1960 machine into the Gromms sewing center and they were amazed at how it looked and sewed. Nice tight seams…picking stitches out of one of it’s work is nie-on-impossible. They just don’t make them like that any more! All metal parts and attachments gallor. The machine guys were fascinated and told me it had been years since they had seen a complete set that looked like new. Mom serviced the thing herself for 50 years…made me so proud!

I was amazed at the things the new serger could do. It’s basically the 1950’s machine with 2 needles and 4 spools of thread. My old one just did straight edging. It was so old they said the serial number couldn’t even be tracked!

As for this computer blog funny for today:
When I hit the proofread button on my posts it says I am BIASED to use the word “Lady”…. Hummm yeah….since when did using the word Lady become politically incorrect and offensive? What has Lady Ga GA done now???!!!

Guess I should go play with the new serger thingy Huh? Something hilarious is bound to occur, I assure you.

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Filed under classic, etsy, handmade, house cleaning, lace, ladyirisjean, ladyirisjean, old fashioned, old timer, sewing, white cotton