Trick of Treat PillowcasesTeaching an old dog new tricks is tricky. Especially when you combine two of her primary modes of creative expression into one much smaller space. By and large I am loving this relocation, but it’s taking me a little while to not feel like I have one shoe nailed to the floor while I manically pivot around and around trying to remember where everything is currently located. So much of what we do day to day is sheer routine so that when that is disrupted…or rearranged…or relocated, it’s a bit of a trick reestablishing a new pattern of being. But I’ve learned a few tricks so I’m finally getting the hang of my new office/sewing studio.

I’m learning that different rooms in the house have different energies. My old office between the kitchen and the garage was a major thoroughfare for our daily comings and goings. It was the first room we entered coming home. Me after parking my car in the garage; my husband after he changed from his dirty work shoes to slippers. There was an immediate energy greeting him as he entered the house. Now my office is in the far back corner of the house, out of the busy traffic pattern we’ve become accustomed to. Greeting one another feels a little more tricky as we learn a new way coming together after being apart for the day.

I’m learning how much I love my desk from upstairs. While it has been a good sewing desk, it is a superb office desk with abundant drawers for office supplies. Most of my sewing tools have been re-positioned to a very efficient three-drawer plastic container stored in the closet. But there are certain revered sewing tools that are migrating back to the desk – first, my mother’s small pair of sewing scissors. And today the seam ripper, ah, my beloved seam ripper. And I am considering giving favored tool status to my measuring tape. It’s a trick of the heart that endears such inanimate objects to us.

Other inanimate objects no so much. In the midst of typing on my wireless keyboard last Wednesday, the keyboard stopped working. Since I’d been moving the keyboard a fair amount as I got adjusted to my new desk set-up, I called my tech guy and asked if there was something on my keyboard that I might have touched that could have disabled it. Not to his knowledge. Perhaps new batteries. Nope, not the problem. Ever thoughtful of my finances, he encouraged me to have my husband check it out. The next day as we turned it every which way looking for a possible reset button, Robert happened to notice an on/off button on the narrow top edge of the keyboard…that was turned off! Apparently unaware, I’d turned it off by brushing it against the edge of a desk drawer. There WAS something I could touch that would “disable” it!

The 8′ x 4′ cork board design wall went up this weekend so I finally feel like my sewing studio is up and running again. My first start-to-finish sewing venture is the trick or treat pillow cases for two of my grandsons (pinned to my design wall above). While visiting Cottage Quilts, my favorite Fresno quilt shop a couple of weeks ago, I chanced on a clever but tricky pattern for making novelty pillow cases. The clerk provided a written handout of the project…which made no sense to me, a visual learner. On my request she graciously demonstrated the “rolled hot dog-hot dog bun” construction process, an easy “roll-sew-pull” method that dramatically reveals a perfectly finished edge. This is a sewing trick you have to see to believe. It’s magic!

In what ways have you been challenged recently to learn “new tricks?” What surprising things having you learned in the process? What “tricks of the heart” have you encountered?

PS – I enjoyed learning this new pillow case trick so much I’m thinking about making a series of seasonal pillow cases for my grands. My granddaughter at West Point just texted that she doesn’t have to use standard Army bed linen. Oh boy, G’ma’s goin’ shoppin’.

5 comments to Tricky

  • Jan

    I’m so glad you posted this. Another friend had talked about hot dogs and buns a couple of weeks ago, and I had no idea what she meant. Then a new friend I met in Maine set something about rolling pillowcases. Finally, you’ve given me an Aha! moment. Thanks!!

  • Jeannie Cavender

    How I can identify with certain sewing items – not mine, as I am not the sewer but my mothers. I have now inherited her black handled scissors which have never cut anything but fabric in over 80 years. The still go in their original box is which is still in fairly good shape. I now venture to cut fabric with them! Our lives were under threat growing up if even we ever thought of using them to cut anything. (My mother in law actually put a small padlock on her sewing scissors so her sons could not use them!)

    She too had a favorite “jack the ripper” a much sturdier and longer lasting one than the one I have though mine probably has had a lot more use than hers!

    And ah yes there is that measuring tape and a small button hole measuring ruler both which have put in years of service.

    As I think of each of these it releases a myriad of memories of my mother who was a gifted seamstress and also of the multiple items she created from canvas boat covers, unbleached muslin curtains with miles and miles of ruffles, party and prom dresses, slip covers and pillows, doll clothes, and on and on

    I have had fun “sewing” together many of these thoughts.

  • Thelma Atkinson

    The “burrito” method for making pillowcases is slick,eh? It is a great beginner sewing project that my students enjoy.

    This “old dog” is adjusting to becoming caregiver as my husbands cancer has created many changes in our lives. There are many tricks to be learned as his needs change.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    Lynne, (you) may (I know I do find), that no matter how “wise” I think I am in rearranging stuff sometimes, that there are “things” that know where their place is despite my efforts. You may find this to be true. Some of it, I just learn to “live with”. i.e., I have a closet that is very sufficient to handle my shoes, but my shoes know that when I am not wearing them, they belong on the top of one of my cabinets. No matter how I try, they still wind up on the top of my cabinet. So be it as long as I can find them when I need them.

  • Tami McHarg


    I too have a scissors from my Mom which has never cut anything but fabric.
    I am particularly enamoured by the thought–as you put it–that it is a trick
    of the heart that endears such objects to us. Thank you for that.

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