Winding down

I’m hoping that the road to La-la land will be a smooth and short one tonight. Just knowing that it’s Friday brings me a sense of calm — looking forward to sleeping in, even if I already know I’ll probably wake up way earlier than I had hoped.

It’s summer here in our part of the world, and that means longer days. Earlier sunrises and later sunsets. Even as I sleep, my “eye” sees the daylight outside even with blackout curtains, and extra layer of paper on the window pane to boot. I somehow know the day has started, even when I wish it wasn’t beginning quite that early. Maybe I’m just getting old. No matter how I try, I cannot muster the kind of sleep that my teen is able to do with such ease.

I’m hunkering in this weekend. I don’t know what I will bake but I do know I have the bananas and the other recipes. I am down to three of my oatmeal raisin cookies. I might attempt a simple roll.. or if the inspiration hits me tomorrow, i might try to bake some bread. Maybe.

I’m sorting the craft supplies again, and I’ve had some measure of success. I’m still hoping this weekend sees me picking up my tools. My free time has been focused on figuring out which ties to use for my masks, and how long the elastic should be. My cord stopper has arrived, but I’m torn between using them and not using them. I lay the last prototype down tonight and decided it can wait another day. After all, I’m staying home. I need not worry about returning to work anytime soon.

I was going to do a Friday Five but decided I just wanted a quick post — something to tie up the loose ends at the end of another workweek.

Happy Friday.. I wish you a good weekend wherever you are, and whichever way you choose to spend it.

Me, I’ll be in my happy place — even if only in my mind, thinking about my favorite desserts, walking my favorite parts of the city.. and maybe I’ll reminisce about that while sipping a glass of wine.

Just another day

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AI attempted a blog post last night to no avail. After a third time where I hit the delete button for the entire post by mistake, I figured the post was just not meant to be. I’ve been trying the dictation feature in writing my past, and I’ve had mixed success. It takes some getting used to.

It’s not entirely all dictated, because the feature still requires actual editing. I’m trying to see if it can keep up with the speed at which I speak, but I am realizing that I am actually talking slower hoping that the phone keeps up with my accent and my words. Sometimes, I catch it thanking and probably wondering what it was that I said. Given that I speak with a slight accent but still with a twang, I figure I have to give allowances for the software or the technology to get used to me as well.

So it’s just another day.

7:30am. My alarm rings and I grab the phone to turn it off and I scan my inbox. Force of habit. On a regular day from not so long ago, my alarm is set almost 2 hours earlier at 5:45. I do my morning routines and get changed. I decide I will take a shower in the morning like I always did, instead of before bed which is now an option. I have a video call at 11:30am today with an external office as a test for a call with the boss. I actually need to put on a face.

8:45am I am ready to start my day and I log on. Soft token spews out the 8 digits that change on a cadence and I am in. This is my virtual office and my day begins.

10:15am. I am reminded I have a video fest call before noon. I put the lightest of make up to look presentable onscreen. I had to look for my lipstick and just put a hint on. Just a little eyeliner and then I dabbed some powder on. I am used to full make up at work — it has always been part of dressing up for me. Since the shelter in place order took effect, my skin and my hair have been given a major reprieve from the daily abuse I usually subject it to.

The call goes well but there might be issues. I need my IT tech.

12nn. I make a deliberate effort to “observe” my lunch hour, whether I actually grab a bite or not. It doesn’t matter that I stay in front of my laptop continuing to work, but I refrain from sending emails unless it’s the boss. I want to be respectful of other people’s lunch hour as well, and I postpone replying or writing until after 1pm. Even when I was in the office, I tried to keep that hour free of reaching out. I might be working at my desk or otherwise handling something, but I will not call or write anyone until after the hour is over.

I wake up the 16 year old and he grumbles a request to stay in bed a few minutes more. Yes, I know, they are on a modified schedule, and their online learning has been pretty much at their own pace, but I don’t want him to lose the structure of the day. He saunters into the living room half asleep. I have to remind him three times to eat breakfast, offering lunch. He grabs his bowl and milk and cereal. At this time I start asking him what he wants for dinner. (I like defrosting in the fridge and the sooner I bring whatever item I need from the freezer down, the less fuss it will be later). He wants a steak. Simple enough.

I’m making bread pudding today. I have researched several recipes and had hoped to do what my mom used to make based on Nora Daza’s recipe. I was ready to go until I saw that it meant double baking (baking in a pan of water). I wanted to make the simple version and landed on this recipe from the New York Times.

I’ve been setting aside the top and bottom slice of my bread loaves since I started eating bread again, and I’ve collected enough to make two batches. (I keep them refrigerated.). One batch down.. I must say I am happy with the way it came out and I will look to tweak the recipe later with raisins and flavoring.

Bread pudding

Mixed and baked within the lunch hour, I let it cool another half hour before I sliced a piece for lunch. Meanwhile..

1:00pm. I get back to work. Scheduling can be as easy as one email exchange or twenty. Sometimes technology doesn’t work like we expect it to and there are explanations and calls to be made.

I needed my white glove support for IT to report and hopefully resolve an issue. He is one of my closest friends at work and we say hi and catch up and have a few laughs. Even if (and all the more because) he is a friend, I requested for a call after 1pm. Matter settled, second test call scheduled.

The afternoon moves with more emails and scheduling maneuvers. When you manage a calendar as busy as the boss has, there’s a lot of wheeling and dealing to make it work. Sometimes it gets too tight and everyone is unhappy, but I think I do a pretty good job of managing her days well.

4:00pm. I have to remind myself the day is almost ended, and the emails that need sending must be sent within the next hour. I also start writing my daily wrap up to brief the boss on the following day’s schedule. If we were working like we used to, I would hand her the day’s calendar with all background information and prereads printed. Since this all started, the summary of the following day’s meetings and today’s meeting requests or scheduling progress have been an efficient alternative. I start my draft so I can hit “send” before 6pm.

5.49pm. Recap sent. Officially logging off and off to my second job: Morherhood.

6:45pm. Time to cook dinner. My son and I have taken to eating dinner together while watching one of our favorite comedies. These days, we’re going through the last few seasons of That 7″s Show. He wanted a steak tonight, and I had more of my callos, then pudding with white chocolate chips for dessert. (I microwaved if for two spurts of 30 seconds to soften the chips. Heavenly!)

9ish.. “Me” Time. I go and do the things that relax me. I press my masks and start top stitching a batch. I am still undecided about the ties, so none are technically ready to go. My cord locks finally arrived. I really shouldn’t complain because I got them cheapest at Walmart, even if it was sold by one of their consignees.

Midnight. I call my siblings who are with my mom and I say goodnight to all of them. It’s a quick call as they are having lunch and I want to go to bed. I like that info this daily now because they are all quarantined at home and can pick up on their smartphones. I drink my vitamin D, freshen up and sit on my bed in the dark finishing this post.

Soon, I will be choosing my sleepcast and drift away to lala land.

Another day ended.. another one beginning in a few. I bid you goodnight.

Friday Five for Memorial Day Weekend

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Five goals. Five tasks. Five things I hope to do over this long weekend up ahead.

I’m stoked. My day ended at just after lunch because despite the early close (2pm), the boss bid me to log off at noon as she was fine to go. I was grateful for that, even if I knew I would probably not really log off then. Just the thought was enough to help me start the weekend.

So I went to the post office and shipped out a sale, then did my usual stop at the community bake shop to get some treats, but more to help them out with a sale and a bit of extra tip. It’s a small operation but it’s been around for a long time, and the type that makes all the good stuff.

And suddenly the disposable masks are available aplenty! While I have been busy making my masks, I thought I’d buy just a box or two for the possibility of a second wave when sanitizers, masks, alcohol and toilet paper disappear from the shelves. Just enough to be ready– not hoarding. I could’ve bought from the chain pharmacy, but I figured again, I’d like to help the mom and pop stores around. So many businesses are hurting, and every little bit helps.

Here goes my Friday Five–

(1) Produce and post at least one item in the shop. Perhaps it’s because of the stress of working from home and the masks, but I haven’t really been paying attention to the shop. Lo and behold, I didn’t realize I was getting a lot of traffic and actually made some sales in the last week or so. I want to be able to take advantage of that spurt of activity and the best way is to keep posting. I’m being modest so I will aim for only one, but who knows?

(2) Work on my art journal. I actually started working on one spread already but want to get going with my journaling again. It’s a very therapeutic form of self expression for me and I have several ideas brewing in my head.

(3) I’m going to get busy in the kitchen. I plan to bake and cook and I’m particularly excited attempting a rather complicated Filipino / Spanish dish after I picked up one of the essential ingredients from the grocery earlier this afternoon. And there’s my oatmeal raisin cookie craving that needs attending to!

(4) Take the first step in replicating a favorite house dress. First thing’s first– have to create the pattern! I already made some measurements and just need to translate it into paper. I’m not going to attempt the actual sewing just yet. The pattern is one big project as it is.

(5) Start writing those letters I’ve been meaning to write. Talking about snail mail here. Earlier while I was looking for the padded envelopes I ship my jewelry in, I came across more stationery I had made a while back that I have yet to use. One letter at least.

There you go. I’m suddenly intimidated reading through that list, but I think I’ve got my work cut out for me. Like I said, I’m all excited by the weekend, even as I end Friday ready to start relaxing.

Here’s to a restful weekend for everyone.

Another shelter in place Sunday

1D194D4D-0EE0-4B49-8BBD-46396D693D4AI see the sun shining outside but I’m trying to make the most of my Sunday morning in bed. I slept at probably around 2am, yet I woke up at 6:30am. I got up and answered the call of nature and went back under the sheets. Sleepcast to try and help me get back to sleep from my meditation app didn’t help. I thought an Etsy webinar would, but even as I was proven correct it was not really free and just a pitch for another course, I managed to stay awake all throughout.

Now I have a headache.

I’m already planning my nap. I am still trying to make my mind up about breakfast. My tummy is arguing with my head because my headache is telling me to go for the banana bread I baked last week, and my tummy is reminding me I got some asparagus for my Sunday brunch omelette. Or I can even go for a ham omelette ..Hmmm..
My Sunday

Not exactly a picture perfect asparagus and cheese omelette, but my tummy was happy

Pending the decision about what sustenance I will take before drinking my headache drug of choice, I have at least made up my mind the laundry will have to wait. (Maybe tomorrow or Tuesday.). Or maybe not. I think the lack of sleep is making me jump from one idea to the next. No, the body wins. I’m taking it easy this Sunday.

I guess that’s one reason I decided to write here, just to help sort the fuzziness in my head. Writing has always been a source of clarity.

I’ve been working on several mask patterns from various sources. I’ve donated my sewingforlives masks and now I want to make masks for myself. I went out yesterday wearing one as I walked to the corner to do errands in 70 degree temps. It was a beautiful day but the mask was hot.

It took some adjusting like always, and I needed to vent the mask by giving it more space between the cloth and my face every once in a while, but I managed. For all the different patterns I’m trying, it all comes down to comfort. Breathability is important or your mask will do you more harm than good. It has to be something you can stand wearing for an extended period of time. I’n writing a separate series of posts on the masks and will share the resources I’ve found, along with tweaks to the pattens I have done.

One of those patterns actually kept me up last night, but I am happy I finished it. While one might think a mask is a mask, I’ve found that there are different nuances in each pattern that can be used together to tweak certain features of a face covering.  This particular pattern looked a little wonky to me when I saw it online, but working on the actual mask showed me a new way to sew the front and back pieces together.

Post coming soon on this mask

So I stitched and unstitched and stitched again, and came up with my first prototype of this pattern, and it might yet turn out to be one of my favorites.

I’m trying to steer clear of the sewing for portions of my day when there is some free time to do the things I want to do. “Me time” has been confined to mostly sewing the past couple of weeks. My art journal has been set aside for the whole month of April, and I will try to do an entry today before May totally slips by. My beads and tools are also waiting for me. I know I had promised to create some pieces in the last week or so, but there was work, and the masks.

So as you can see, I’ve been very focused on creating face coverings and finding one (or two or three) actual mask that I like, and producing enough for me to use when I get back to work. Whenever that may be. Still experimenting..

I realize now that I have to stop stressing about returning to work, and part of that is easing up on my focus on the face coverings. This whole business of sheltering in place and the presence of the threat of corona hanging over my head has been a heavy burden. We try to cope as best we can, and I think I have been doing well for the most part, but I am only human. There’s always that part of us that suffers through the stress no matter how good we get at coping from day to day.

This Sunday, I’m going to work on at least one jewelry piece, and maybe even come up with one item or two for the shop. I already know which section of my art journal I will work on. I don’t really want to plan beyond that, because all I can think of right now he’s wanting to go back to sleep. And after everything I have written here, I still haven’t made up my mind about breakfast.

My headache has also not abated. It seems to be intent on keeping me company today. I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet, and I’m already planning my nap.

Sundays should not be so complicated. So let’s begin with my asparagus Omelette. Progress. At least breakfast is taken care of, and that’s one less decision to make today.

Dinner saw me baking a small batch of Pao de Quiejo using a different recipe from my first attempt a couple of weeks back. Simple enough. Headache crept away midday but I just didn’t have the energy for much.

My Sunday

I hope your Sunday went as well as mine. I hope that like me, you will take time to do something that you like doing, and find the time to just pause and breathe.

Another weekend sheltering in place– grateful to be safe at home and getting ready for the week ahead.

Mother’s Day in the time of Corona in NYC

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I have one son. And he means the world to me. 17 years ago, he was born the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and I celebrated my first Mother’s Day all achy and tired but holding this precious little breathing human being in my arms. It was the best gift ever and continues to be the best gift ever every time this day comes along.

We usually celebrate with a fancy dinner, just the two of us — and I always look forward to the card he gives me, whether store bought or handmade. This year, I think I’ll give him a pass but I wouldn’t mind one even if delayed.

He has always had a gift for words. I loved the scribbling, and the attempts at art. I look at him and I am filled with a different kind of bliss beyond words.

These days he sleeps until noon, or a little later — when I let him. Online learning has been on a modular basis, so he can log on and watch videos and receive homework with a deadline for submission. He and his friends meet “online” playing video games after dinner, staying up until the wee hours. Iused to get concerned with the unhealthy sleeping hours, but I’ve learned to live with it and just define limits. He can stay up as late as he wants, as long as he wakes up by noon and eats breakfast or brunch, and does his daily attendance and any work required from school. I have learned to pick my battles and respect that he, too, is dealing with this whole new normal and I have to help him do it in a way that works for him, not just for me.

So we had dinner with just us again, but this time at home. No surprise flowers or cards. Or maybe I might get a surprise yet. Just being with him here is gift enough. Having him for a son makes it all worth it. Having him, period. That’s what makes this day special.

I already video chatted with my own mom as Mother’s Day hit Manila 12 hours earlier. In the midst of their own quarantine, only my sister is with my Mom, so we pulled in my brothers. The physical therapist is living in the hospital, social distancing to ensure the he doesn’t bring any possible infection home. The other brother is with his family in another part of town.

Like most families these days, we communicate via video chat, sometimes as a family or just separately. I try to check in with them daily, even if mom is hard of hearing. She sees me, I see her, and we say hello or goodnight — it reassures me as much as it must reassure her that we are okay on both sides of the world.

The cemeteries opened to allow those who want to visit their moms a chance to pay their respects. It’s a bittersweet day because there are many mothers, both young and old, who perished in the current pandemic. Some of them may not have even had the chance to have a proper funeral. These days, even the business of laying our dead to rest has become complicated by the fears of contamination.

And so we all celebrate a different way, but we celebrate all the same.

Happy Mother’s Day..

Celebrating the ones we love

I’m getting ready to turn in as I write this. It’s actually Friday evening, but technically Saturday. I’ve been writing in my head since I put the last of the dishes away to dry and I lugged my phone and iPad to my room. Refreshed and changed, I’m ready to go to sleep, but I’m afraid the words running through my head will make it difficult. So I write.

My now 16 year old had a birthday dinner for two with his favorite gal. While my ex and I had agreed to celebrate his birthday together, there was no neutral ground to celebrate in with the restaurants closed, and what’s worse, he had been battling the flu. He thankfully tested negative for corona which was a relief, because he and the son have been hanging out while he started becoming symptomatic. I couldn’t deny him that as a parent, so when I got news he was running a temperature, I was worried. A doctor visit and a subsequent ER trip after, I had to,put my foot down lest the boy catch what the father had. I was relieved when the Dad relented. They will celebrate after he recovers.

I’ve always been big on birthdays. Last year, we went to a fancy steakhouse in Manhattan. The boy knows and loves his steaks. I picked one close to the ex knowing his usual longer hours at work would mean it would be easier for us to get there from where I work, and that was convenient because he told us as we sat to dinner that there was an emergency at work and so he could only spare an hour. When we were married, that would have been cause for a discussion, but things like that remind me why we are now uncoupled.

We ordered, had our meal, was served the birthday dessert, then I told him he could go ahead. The boy wanted to stay. So my son and I stayed and enjoyed the dessert and the ambience. Even if we had already taken pictures with us three in the shot, we asked the waiter to take more of just the two of us,

In the basement where the restrooms were, there was a sitting room which lent itself to quite the backdrop for more pictures. Then we walked out together and took more pictures before we picked up our ride home.

This year, I didn’t insist on pictures. He hadn’t shaved and the hair has grown out of bounds. And he didn’t want to. I didn’t let the lockdown stop us from celebrating with a tomahawk steak dinner. The boy loves it with rice and corn on the side. I whipped up some roasted potatoes, sautéed some mushrooms in garlic and I boiled two ears of corn for me. The Pinot noir was a perfect pairing.

Before we sat down to dinner, the ex dropped off a cake. He asked that I take a video of the blowing of the candle. I told the boy to call his father so they could do the cake virtually — better than a video! I was surprised that he texted me to give his son a hug for him.

That gave me pause. It dawned on me that he was feeling the separation deeply, from my son — not from me. I found that strange. Even when we were married, he would miss the birthday celebrations in school and I would take time off to serve cake and goodie bags even if the celebrant didn’t like cake. Where I felt strongly about celebrating birthdays on the day of, he always considered celebrations fluid and not pegged on dates. So if he missed the birthday cake in school, there was the weekend to make up for it.

And remembering last year and the emergency at work that made him rush off after an hour to celebrate his son brought me back to my senses. They can celebrate when he is better. That’s how celebrations worked for him all this time.. why should this one be different.

As for me and my son, we had quite the steak treat. The tomahawk required searing, broiling in the oven and basting on the stove again — and it was worth all that and more.. the steak lover gave it his seal of approval. I will write about that more tomorrow.. my bed beckons.. and it’s Saturday..

Tomahawk steak dinner

I am tired and a bit buzzed and smiling for the memories of tonight’s birthday celebration. Despite the limitations of staying home because of he Corona virus, we managed to pull off a memorable birthday dinner to celebrate. I am grateful.

Happy birthday, dearest Angelo. I love you to the moon and back.. always, in all ways.

Monday Musings: Another Stay at home week

Monday musings in paper and inkI’ve been writing posts and they are hanging out in my drafts folder. There are so many things I want to write about but writing has been mostly in my mind — but I’m determined to get this all out here. More than a month into the stay-at-home deal, I’m still anxious about many things and now have to think about preparing for the return to work. I thought it would be a good idea to go back to something I’ve usually turned to when I’m in a writing rut — my Monday Musings which spew out blurbs and shorts of anything that comes to mind the moment I’m writing here.

Yes, we will be returning soon. Probably not until the month is out at least — So I’m thinking June. While the work-from-home situation has been a challenge, I consider it a blessing. I appreciate the fact that I still have a job and have a paycheck coming regularly, which come with the benefits and all those blessings. It’s been difficult because I don’t have the resources I have when I’m physically in the office, and I’ve had to devise new ways and means to do my work. But I have managed, and I really have no complaints. Well, maybe save for the fact that we are busy as ever, and the work from home deal hasn’t really meant less work. I am also thankful that I don’t have to worry about the commute in this kind of a situation. And when life returns to a sense of normalcy, we will adjust — we will cope.

I am already working on my personal face covering but that has been sidelined by my efforts to contribute to this Herculean task of beating the virus. We all do what we can. Still, I need to start thinking of the commute, and how we will be operating with the new safety precautions which, I am sure, we will be told and be constantly reminded about in the weeks to come.

Art on pause. For a first quarter that saw my art journal zooming into life, I have actually put the project on hold for the month of April. Not that there wasn’t anything to draw or write — I just burned out, I guess. Or maybe things just caught up with me. Or maybe I found the balance I was looking for in feverishly working on it the months before. My pages are waiting. I have the signatures all set. I have the sections figured out. I just need to pick it up again. This week, I promise.

My Art Journal: Grateful

Jewelry projects revisited. I did pick up a cab that I wanted to attempt to encase in crocheted artistic wire. I’m not quite happy with how it turned out but the attempt was a start. I am going to try to create a few pieces one of these evenings. I have tried to get on with the organizing here and there — something you’d think I’d have so much time to do. Not quite true. But the thought is there.. and in fact, I just might attempt to string some beads I am fancying and within reach here. If only there were more hours to the day.

A week of celebrations, it will be. My big guy will be 16 this Friday. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the tomahawk steak I ordered will arrive on time. He’s not one for cake but I just might bake him one. And on Sunday, it’s Mother’s Day. A whole lot of celebrating up ahead!

Congratulations are in order for the successful examinees who passed the Philippine Bar Exams of 2019. A topic near and dear to me — the feelings never gets old.. and personally, the wave of gratitude that takes me over every time as I look back to my own legal journey decades ago. (Oops.. dating myself here. LOL). But we celebrate all those victories — one of the highest, if not the highest passing rate in many years. To all those who made it, congratulations.

Let’s be kind and practice social distancing and wearing a mask. It’s the new way of saying “please” and “thank you.” With all the deaths and hardship that the whole world has witnessed in the past few months, a little kindness can go a long way.

Fabric Hunting (How to get FREE crafting supplies)

Once upon a time, after I got my own sewing machine and had started taking actual courses in sewing at Mood University, I went fabric hunting.

I wanted to practice sewing but didn’t want to waste fabric I bought. I did purchase some pieces but found that there were occasional freebies on Craigslist and I have put together quite a stash.

From scraps to cut up bolts to boxes of spools of thread, I have managed to build quite a stockpile and all for free.

Well, save for the effort of lugging huge bags home, and the occasional cost of transportation (One was a pick up at a storage facility in Brooklyn which would have been too difficult and long a commute), they have literally been free.

So during this time when I’m sewing mask covers which I hope to contribute to some facilities in need here in New York, the free fabric has been a blessing. This has literally been a labor of love, but that’s for another post.

For those who know how Craigslist works, the freebies are strangely under “FOR SALE”. Because I don’t drive and largely because those giving them away were located in Manhattan, I limited my search to the area. (Yes, we do have a Fashion District.)

The first ad I answered seemed to be straightforward, as someone was giving away fabric scraps and notions somewhere in Chelsea. “Bring your own bag”, the ad said, so I brought a wheeled expandable tote. It turned out to be a small bag manufacturing operation owned by an old lady. She had reduced her operations drastically because of declining sales, and was thinking of liquidating her stocks. She had a writer who rented the small space for her factory for now and she wanted to prepare for an onsite sale. There were boxes of bag fabric scraps and samples.

In exchange, she requested me to help her do some heavy lifting to move some sewing machines and a table aside for the sale she was having in a day or two. I couldn’t say no to the old lady, so I lifted, and carried my very full and heavy bag home.

Much of the fabric from that stash needed washing because the sharp stench of glue reeked from some pieces that I left behind. It was an interesting haul, and a learning experience. The old lady wanted to go into online selling but knew very little about it, but she had a lot to share about pricing and merchandising. So besides the free scraps and samples, I got one on one mentoring on price points and her production method.

The second ad I responded to was from an independent designer who sold her own clothing label. She was into dyeing and had specified a pick up in Brooklyn. Her address was easy to commute to, so I ventured on my merry way.

She advertised for scraps and unused cut fabric, and again, a request to bring my own bags and totes. When I arrived at her apartment building, she had garbage bags full of the items she was giving away by her door. She even brought out more as she saw I had enough totes. I didn’t have the chance to pick and choose and took everything that would fit in my one giant tote and a giant roller luggage.

When I went through the stash upon arriving home, I was so surprised to see that she had given me cuts of fabric ranging from cotton to jacquard, in pieces as small as a quarter of a yard to 5 yards. I found the scraps of her dyed fabric very interesting, more so since I was experimenting with fabric beads and embellishments like roses at the time.

Last I checked on her, her label seems to be growing and she is now affiliated with a non profit that collects excess fabrics from designers to sell at a warehouse outside Manhattan.

Free Fabric hunting

The third ad advertised for scraps and fabric samples. This time, it was a Manhattan based clothing label sold on its own website and carried by certain high end department stores. I walked up to their office which also housed their manufacturing studio. I didn’t get to see that because I found boxes of satin and silk fabric samples by thei receiving room. Her fabric samples usually meant a half yard cut. Some had multiples, so I was actually able to use two coordinating designs for my first attempt at a collared shirt. While that particular project didn’t result in something I could wear, it allowed me to learn and practice how to sew a standing collar.

There were “scraps” that were as big as two yards long cuts of satin fabric in different shades and colors. Material I can actually use for linings for skirts or the purses that I had started researching how to sew.

One of the treasures I unearthed from this pick up was a twill drape that must’ve been used as a curtain for a wall or a section divider. The fabric was double width at 60 inches and around 4 yards, and from this I was able to practice on cutting and sewing an overcoat or topper. It became a practice run and I stitched and unstitched parts of the pattern until I got the hang of sewing armholes and sleeves and sections of the front and back of a coat.

Free Fabric hunting

The fourth was another designer who had her own clothing line, again, carried by online consignment groups and in her own online store. She had two bins of scraps I could pick through. She dabbled in knit fabric and while there were no huge cuts, the scraps from her cuttings were big enough to work with. She also had a interesting variety of knit and novelty fabric I wouldn’t even look for in a fabric store, but which I would take a second look at, displayed in a store.

My next haul wasn’t at another designer but rather an established service provider to the apparel industry. I didn’t know it until I was at the workshop, because the advertisement was for bolts of cut fabric and assorted supplies.

They appear to have cut through bolts of 60inch jersey, leaving approximately 14 inches which was a lot — given that it was a bolt. There wasn’t much left when I came — but I still managed to get around 6 bolts in black and white.

The bigger haul was the boxes of spools of thread and other notions — there for the taking. I must’ve gotten around 50 spools of thread, and bunches of 9 inch zipper, along with a hodgepodge of assorted spools and reels of trim. I came home with a giant spool of what appeared to be quarter inch cording, a giant roll of half inch interface ribbon among a host of other finds. I actually had to pick what I would take because I could carry only so much in my totes and rolling luggage.

Free Fabric hunting

I envisioned the bolts of jersey woven into necklaces, and the guy who gave me the fabric sort of looked disappointed, as he told me this was high quality fabric! I haven’t had the chance to work with the jersey but now look at creating a hand knitted chunky jacket out of the bolts I have. (Maybe for next fall..)

The last one was an ad from a craft store in Brooklyn that was closing shop and had to vacate one of their storage rentals. The call was for 4pm and I though I’d arrive by 3, but apparently people had come early and started arriving at 2pm. There was still a lot to pick from and I grabbed a 6 yard cut of an African print fabric, for one, and several cotton yard long cuts for quilting. There were scraps of spandex in different colors and a dozen or so unfinished projects, ranging from fabric diapers to African American traditional skirts. Well worth the transportation cost back and forth.

Free Fabric hunting

I haven’t been fabric hunting for a while now, largely because I don’t have any more space for it. I also want to start using what I have before I go and try to grab more. I’ve organized most o the items I’ve gotten, washing the scraps even, more so when they were full of loose thread and fiber. I’m asthmatic and I cannot work with that kind of extra.

I know, it’s about time I made good use of these freebies I have acquired in the last 4 years. I also know I cannot go out looking for more, specially at this time that we are all social distancing. But I’m taking stock.

I have joined Sewingforlives.com and have started sewing mask covers per their specified template. All the materials I have used so far, have been from these fabric hauls. I am well stocked to do dozens and dozens more. I am not setting a goal but just plan to keep sewing during my free time. As I work full time during the week (even if from home), my progress has been slow. The point is, I’m getting there, and my fabric haul is being put to good use.

This, plus the project to create face covers for my personal use for when we return to work. My goal is to have enough to use one daily for a 2-3 week laundry cycle. I haven’t quite found the fit and pattern that works for me so that is a work in progress. I’m concentrating on my donation of mask covers first — and that’s taking up all my free time for now.

I am slowly honing my sewing skills with this freebies, and for a good cause at that.