Happy Birthday to Me

I gave myself a weekend trip to Spokane for my birthday this year (it was last Friday). Neither of our girls was home for the holiday and I was getting itchy for a road trip. I also had to retrieve a sewing machine from DD#2's storage unit. 

I didn't cook anything special for Thanksgiving. I had made a pork loin earlier in the week and we were still working on that. The husband said he didn't have any emotional attachment to turkey with all the trimmings and that if I didn't feel like cooking, I shouldn't. So I didn't. I worked for a few hours in the morning to knock out half my Friday quota and then I sewed for the rest of the day. I started with a whole bunch of bits and pieces and by the end of the day, I had three completed quilt tops, one almost-complete quilt top (it just needs the second border sewn on), and half of a fifth quilt top. I also made the back for another quilt, although I didn't get it basted together with the top and batting because I need more basting pins. 

Whew. It was an insanely productive day and it gave me a good idea of what I needed to look for—and hopefully buy—in Spokane. I had some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, too. Thanks, Mom. 

I got up early and finished out my quota on Friday morning and hit the road. DD#1 called me from Seattle just as I was getting close to Coeur D'Alene and her boyfriend's family sang Happy Birthday to me. That was lovely. I took a quick detour into Coeur d'Alene to see if there was anything interesting happening at the Jo-Ann Fabrics store.

It was mobbed.

When I walked in, there were two checkout lines, each with 20-30 people in line, and another couple dozen people lined up at the cutting table. I had neither the time nor the patience for that circus (and there was nothing interesting on the remnant rack), so I left. 

The first place I stopped at in Spokane was Heartbeat Quilting. This is more of a longarm quilting store. They have a little bit of fabric and some batting, but I go there for the thread. I needed small 3000-yard cones of royal blue, red, and gold for some upcoming quilt projects. I really like the Signature 40 wt cotton and so does my Janome. On the recommendation of one of the salesladies, I also picked up a small spool of Glide 100% polyester thread. I really prefer cotton for quilts, but I haven't given polyester thread a good thorough testing yet, either. I'll try it and see what I think. 

This quilt store is right across the street from a gas station with diesel and also a carwash, so I fueled up and treated the BMW to a bath. It gets pretty icky-looking in the winter. 

The next stop was The Quilting Bee, which is an enormous store full of all things quilting—fabric, thread, machines, you name it. They outgrew their original space and moved to this building last spring. I tend to get overwhelmed when I go in there. The last three times I was there, I left without buying anything because I coudn't make a decision. This time, though, I needed something specific. I went to the section called "Last Chance Alley," where they put, on sale, the last remaining bolts of recent fabric lines. I needed a back for the Christmas present quilt and I was hoping to find something from the same fabric line as what was in the quilt. I did find two bolts, but they were prints that weren't really suitable for backings. However, another fabric line by that same designer had a similar color palette and one of the bolts looked like it had the required yardage. (I am getting really good at guesstimating the yardage left on a bolt by counting the folds.) I needed four yards. There were 5-1/8 yards on the bolt, so I took the extra and was rewarded with an additional 30% discount for finishing the bolt. If I cut judiciously, I might have enough for two quilt backs. 

I left the Quilting Bee and stopped at a couple of thrift/antique stores in the same area. I like that they are all clustered together; it makes shopping a lot easier. I saw several sewing machines, including a few vintage ones, but I am down to looking only for Necchis now. By that time, it was after 3 o'clock so I went by the hotel and checked in, then headed up to the neighborhood called South Hill. This is where DD#1 lived when she was in grad school for two years. There is a lovely little quilting store up there called Regal Fabric and Gifts. It's where I took that jelly roll race class last February. I wandered around in there for a bit and got fabric for another quilt back as well as some bagmaking supplies. Neither The Quilting Bee nor Regal Fabrics was very busy. I suppose everyone must have been at Jo-Ann Fabrics loading up on fleece and flannel.  

[One of the (non-sewing) things I tend to stock up on in Spokane is alcohol, for two reasons: 1) You can buy hard liquor at grocery stores and even at Fred Meyer and Target. I like to pick up a bottle of whiskey every now and again and it's easy to do there; 2) They have beers there that aren't available in Montana. For some reason, the vast majority of beer drinkers in the Flathead Valley seem to prefer IPAs, because there are only about six dark beer varieties available locally. The husband prefers dark beers. Going to Spokane is like going to beer Disneyland. There is a grocery store on South Hill with the most amazing beer selection. I stopped there and picked up a case of beer for one of our neighbors (it's their Christmas present) and decided I would come back on Saturday to get beer for the husband.] 

By that time, I was starving. I really wanted pizza for dinner, so I went to Mod Pizza and had the most delicious little thin crust pizza with fresh mozarella, mushrooms, red peppers, and pesto drizzle. It hit the spot, and I was refreshed enough to try my luck at the Jo-Ann Fabrics on South Hill. I figured that the big crush had probably died down as people went home for dinner, and sure enough, the store was mostly empty. Even better, I went on an archaeological dig of the clearance rack and found three bolts (!) of Tim Holtz fabric with about a yard-ish of fabric on each bolt. I think I mentioned—when I was making the blog tour bag—that I tend to collect Tim Holtz fabric when I find it. I bought what was left on all those bolts to replenish the stash. 

And then it was back to the hotel and an evening glass of wine. All in all, it was a lovely birthday. 


Being the glutton for punishment that I am—and also being up at the butt crack of dawn because I am a morning person—I was at the Jo-Ann Fabrics out in Spokane Valley by 7:30 Saturday morning. It wasn't overly busy, but the women who were there were clearly on a mission. And they all had carts which they were wheeling around like chariots. More than once I was told that I needed to get out of the way. It felt more like Mad Max Thunderdome than a fabric store. I got fabric for another quilt back and decided to forego looking for any more Tim Holtz fabric. I can check on the next trip. 

Still feeling ovely optimistic, I went to the mall next door to see if Macy's had anything good. I needn't have bothered. Finding anything there that fits well and is made to last more than a few months is an exercise in futility. Thankfully, the Liz Claiborne section at JC Penney's yielded some treasures. If it weren't for the Liz Claiborne label, I would be naked. Probably 85% of the clothes in my closet are from Liz Claiborne, although I've noticed a decline in quality and fit there, too, over the past two years or so. Everything is so bloody short. If I were built like an Oompa-Loompa, I'd have my pick of things to wear. I am not, so I have to look more carefully.  

After the mall, I went to both Hobby Lobby stores—the one near the mall and the one north of Spokane (I had my route planned carefully to be as efficient as possible). I didn't really need anything at either place, so I just wandered around and then left. I headed to the other mall, where I scoped out the Liz Claiborne section at that JC Penney and bought a few more items. (The two stores tend to have vastly different selections.) 

Sew EZ Too is a little fabric store in Spokane that has a quilt section, but they really cater to garment makers rather than crafters. Their selection is extensive and I love wandering around and seeing what's available. (Hot pink wool flannel!) I noticed that they were also carrying cork fabric in several colors. Cork is a big thing among bagmakers at the moment. I hadn't seen any in person (I asked about it at the quilt store here and was told they had no plans to carry it), so it was fun to actually see and feel it. It is a very thin layer of cork fused to a backing fabric. I can't imagine that it will hold up well, but I have no idea. I toyed around with the idea of buying half a yard to play with and then the rational side of my brain kicked into gear. Maybe next time. 

By that time, it was mid-afternoon and I had plans to meet DD#2's boyfriend and his sister for dinner. I made a quick trip back to the grocery store to pick up a selection of dark beers for the husband. James and his sister, Kayla, came to the hotel and we went over to the storage unit and loaded the industrial sewing machine and base into the back of the wagon. We had to place all the beer carefully around it but everything fit. Once that was loaded, we headed downtown to I will not eat raw meat of any kind (a semester parasitology class in college will do that to you), but this place has lots of cooked seafood offerings and it is one of our favorite places to eat in Spokane. I had a fried tofu appetizer and a California roll (boring, but safe). James and Kayla each had some sushi dishes and explained to me what each of them contained. We had green tea fried ice cream for dessert. It was a wonderful dinner. James is like one of my own kids and I enjoyed getting to know his sister.  


You're probably wondering where the pictures are, so I'll show you. The first two were taken at a little antique/junk store in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. I have found some amazing treasures at this place so I always make a point of stopping there. 

This is a sad little SewMor in a sad Singer treadle base. The price tag of $70 in no way reflects the reality of the effort that would be required to get this back into working condition. It's sad, but I have discovered that you can't save all of them:

The Value Village in Spokane had a broken—broken as in "the cast iron body of the machine had broken in two at the pillar"—sewing machine for sale for $9.99. Someone must have dropped something really heavy on it. I stood there and debated about that one far longer than I should have. I was considering it from the standpoint of it being a great candidate to disassemble completely, because I still need to do that with a sewing machine. It was really a shame, too, because that particular model was a 3/4-sized singer 15 clone and those are pretty scarce. I have one (bought, actually, at this junk store in Bonners Ferry). I have been thinking about getting it out and cleaning it up. They are delightful little machines and that one would make a great portable to take to classes. 

This flax hackle has been sitting at the junk store in Bonners Ferry for a while. If I ever decided to grow flax—or if this country ever came to its senses and legalized hemp cultivation—this would be a great investment:

(There is a corresponding set of flax combs inside the store but I did not get a picture of them.)

This is the base to the industrial treadle machine I brought back with me:

It's identical to the base that the Necchi BV is on, although the Necchi BV has a more modern table. 

And this is the machine—a Singer 31-15—that sits in that base:

It's almost identical to the Singer 31-20 machine that I have. Once I get a space cleared, I am going to set this treadle up with the 31-20 in it. I still have the industrial base that originally came with the Necchi. It is set up for a motor. Eventually, I hope to have this 31-15 set up in that table with a motor. (Maybe Tera needs an industrial machine...) But it's a process and that may take a few months. For now, this machine and base are residing in the storage unit. 

And I have lots of work to do in the next couple of weeks, getting some Christmas presents finished. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>
« What Is That Thing? | Main | Pattern Winners! »