The Statue of Liberty is America

Hi, I was going to post about some spring pattern releases but I can’t get Donald Trump’s recent executive order on immigration out of my mind. So that’s why the Statue of Liberty is the focus of this post. Trump’s order limits immigration from seven Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

This is a sewing blog so I don’t usually mention politics here. But I can’t be silent. My parents immigrated to this county from Thailand. I am the daughter of immigrants. This is a country of many, many millions of immigrants. This country has had a long tradition of welcoming immigrants and refugees – people fleeing persecution in their home countries.

The Statue of Liberty is what we stand for. Here’s the sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 that was written for a fundraiser for the pedestal for the statue. It’s inscribed on a plaque. It’s those last lines that are so often quoted and that is what America has been to the world.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I am heartened by all the protests that have erupted all over the country. We must stand up for civil rights, human rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, environmental right and all the other rights that are in imminent danger from the Trump administration.

To read more about our lady of liberty, see this National Parks page.

Clothes moths – and how I (mostly) got rid of them

Last spring my bedroom was infested by clothes moths. I’d never seen so many moths at once. One day dozens of them were just flying around the bedroom! I was shocked. All I could think was, oh, no! what about my wool fabric! My vintage hats! My silk fabric that I’ve been saving for the right pattern?

I immediately checked my fabric and I didn’t see any telltale holes but I was paranoid that they would get eaten or maybe they were in danger of being clothes moths fodder. My hats were fine. A wool scarf in the closet had a few holes in it but luckily my actual damage was minimal.

But I didn’t know where the clothes moths were coming from or what they were eating. They were hanging out on the curtains but the curtains didn’t have any holes in them. Plus they were crawling around on the carpet. Yes, these things don’t just fly, they also crawl around like any other insect with legs. Ugh.

I started doing some research online and found this very helpful page on home pests, courtesy of the University of California. I learned some gross facts, which I will excerpt here:

“The larva is the damaging stage of the clothes moth. Both species feed on wool clothing, carpets, and rugs; upholstered furniture; furs…. They will feed on synthetics or cotton blends if these fabrics also contain wool. Larvae might also use cotton fibers to make their pupal cases. Damage generally appears in hidden locations such as beneath collars or cuffs of clothing, in crevices of upholstered furniture, and in carpeted areas beneath furniture. Fabrics with food, perspiration, or urine stains are more subject to damage.

Ewwwww. It’s the larva that eat the natural fibers and after they are done munching on your cashmere sweater, they moth emerges and flies around to lay more eggs. And get this, female moths lay “an average of 40 to 50 eggs during a 2- to 3-week period and die once they’ve completed the egg-laying process,” according to the UC page. Yes, 40 to 50 eggs!!! That’s how you can easily get an infestation of clothes moths.

We have a synthetic carpet in the bedroom so I knew they weren’t eating that. But I couldn’t tell where the clothes moths were coming from. A couple of weeks later I discovered that clothes moth larvae had infested a small wool rug that was under the TV cart in the corner of the bedroom, near the curtains. I totally didn’t see this. It wasn’t until I vacuumed the rug the second time that chunks of wool pile came off the rug.

The wool pile was no longer attached to the backing because moth larvae were munching on it! Here’s what the rug looked liked after I brushed off all the wool that was eaten where the tufts meet the backing.

Wool rug eaten by moths

Here’s a close-up of the larvae. This really, really grossed me out. I took the rug out of the house immediately, put it in the direct sun to kill them and then tossed out the rug.

Moth larvae in wool rug

Before I made this gross discovery, I posted a photo on Instagram asking for advice on killing clothes moths. They were still flying around and their crazy flight pattern made it hard to kill them by clapping my hands together. I had more luck when they were resting on the curtain or the wall. The response made me realize that it is a HUGE pain in the ass to get rid of clothes moths. I got some helpful advice from the following people:

Sonya Philip (@sonyaphilip) of 100 Acts of Sewing: “Take everything out, shake stuff and the vacuum the heck out of all the closet nooks and crannies.”

Brooke Wilkerson (@sewbrooke) of Custom Style: “Put everything you have in sealed plastic bags while it has to wait in line to be washed.” She also tagged Traci Hutton (@arttdolls) to ask her opinion and Traci commented: “Once you do your cleaning of everything, I always seal smaller wool pieces in some kind of ziplock bag or larger bag to seal them out. I then also use some type of cedar shaving or lavender sachet. Cedar wood blocks need to be sanded over time to activate the smell again. Nothing smells better than a cedar lined closet if you like that idea which is the best, IMO. I love mine. There are “kits” you can purchase from hardware stores. Time and money to do it right though.”

Here’s what I did in my attempt to eliminate and control my clothes moths problem:

  1. You have to break the clothes moths life cycle, which means you need to kill the eggs. Moth eggs could be in crevices in the closet, the carpet, in clothes, you name it. This is the most time-consuming and expensive part of the process.
    To kill the eggs, I did the following:
    • I put all my wool hats in zip lock plastic bags and then put them in the freezer for a about a week. Freezing is supposed to kill moth eggs. My freezer isn’t very big (top part of the refrigerator) so it took me about a month to freeze them all. My berets were easiest to freeze because they’re flat and don’t take up too much room.
    Hats in zip lock bagsFreezing berets
    • I vacuumed every inch of the carpet twice over and then once a week afterwards.
    • I washed or dry cleaned nearly everything in the closet. Wash in hot water if you can. My bedroom closet is a walk-in closet with two racks of clothes, mine plus my husband’s, plus coats are also in there because we have no coat closet. After a few loads of clothes were washed and dried, I put them in large plastic zip lock space bags (affiliate link here) to keep them safe from clothes moths. You put your neatly stacked clothes inside and then use you vacuum hose to suck the air out. They store fairly flat. These large bags are expensive – about $16 for three. But they are reusable. It took about a month to get everything cleaned.
    • Dry cleaning is expensive. If you have wool clothes, consider investing in a clothes brush and give them a good brushing before they go back in the closet. No need to constantly dry clean your wool garments, according to Douglas, the dapper staff member at Britex Fabrics. Wool resists dirt so good brushing will keep it clean and you can cut back your dry cleaning to once a year or so.
    • I washed the closet shelves with warm soapy water but maybe I should have used hot soapy water to guarantee clothes moth egg death.
    • In my initial panic, I put my expensive wool fabrics in a plastic container and bought some lavender-scented Moth Sachettes from the hardware store. The box said they were supposed to kill larvae and eggs. BUT the scent is super strong – sort of like moths balls but with a lavender tinge. My husband couldn’t stand the smell. The scent didn’t stay contained in the so-called air-tight container. I had to throw out the sachette put the container outside until the smell would lessen. I haven’t opened the contained in months. Now my wool may be larvae free but it stinks, creating a different problem. (sigh)
  2. You need to trap clothes moths to prevent them from mating and laying more eggs. I bought two different types of traps because I didn’t know which would work. I got the Safer Clothes Moth Alert Trap about $10 for a package of two at my local hardware store (Amazon associates link here), which works by attracting male moths through a pheromone. They fly inside and then get stuck to the adhesive on the inside. I also got a similar trap by Raid (associates link here).
    The first Safer traps I got didn’t catch anything and the Raid trap only got a couple of moths. But when I bought another package of Safer traps, they caught several moths. Maybe the first one I bought was old or my timing was off and there weren’t any moths around to attract.
    I also hung up a strip of clear packing take near the trap in the closet. My thinking was: If they were attracted to the trap, maybe they’d also get stuck on the tape. I was right. Here’s a photo I took last year of the trap in the closet and the packing tape. You can see all the knitwear in big zip bags on the left and my berets in bags just below.
    Safer clothes moth alert trap
    The moths flew to the trap and some got stuck to the tape. I don’t think it matters whether your tape is clear or not. It’s just what I had on hand.
    Clothes moths stuck to packing tape

What didn’t work
I bought this cedar wood kit to repel clothes moths. I had read mixed things about the effectiveness but I thought, why not? The kit was a little over $12 (affiliate link here). I even bought the cedar spray to revive the scent in the wood. You’re supposed to sand the wood or spray it with cedar spray to reactivate the scent.

Cedar kit to repel clothes moths

One day I saw a moth literally on one of the cedar pieces I had put in the closet. So I can’t say that they are effective. Also, they don’t kill moth eggs or larvae. Their purpose is to repel moths. Maybe they need more constant reactivation. I don’t know.

What does work

Stay vigilant. Put at least one Safer Clothes Moth Alert trap in your closet, check it every week, and change it every three months. If you see a lot of moths, hang a strip of wide packing tape near the trap. I saw a moth in the bathroom on a towel. So now I need to check the linen closet. We may have clothes moths there. But at least they are out of the bedroom!

Vacuum your carpet at least once a week.

This Vogue UK article, recommends that you only store clean clothes in your closet because “[m]oths love to feast on human sweat and food particles. Do not put any clothes back in your newly cleaned wardrobe that are dirty – especially knitwear.” The article also has links to other products you can buy. (Thanks to Catja of Gjeometry for pointing this article out to me.)

California has been in the drought for five years so I have not been washing my clothes as frequently as I used to. This meant that I put skirts and tops I’ve worn (and not washed) back in the closet. One tee-shirt has two small holes in it so that got eaten.

I hope my experience will help other people who face a clothes moth infestation. If you have any tips on what worked for you, please let me know!

How to get rid of clothes moths - freeze garments to kill moth eggs, trap adult moths, and clean everything

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Tutorial: Repairing an ugly tear

Hi, have you ever had to repair an ugly tear? Yesterday my husband tore the vest I made him a few years ago. He wears it a lot so he was really upset and of course, told me, “You have to fix this!” The tear was nearly 2 inches (5 cm) long in the center back, not along a seam. Yikes.

“Uh, I’m not sure I can fix that,” I told him. “It would be ugly. Let me ask my sewcialists on Instagram.”

So I posted this photo of the tear on IG (@csews) …

The tear -

The top photo is the outside of the vest and the bottom is of the lining. Yes, somehow the tear went through both fabrics!

I got some very helpful suggestions, including these ideas from two costumers:

@sewbrooke of Custom Style suggested doing a stripe of Petersham ribbon or matching fabric, repair patching the rip, and covering it with the stripe. She also mentioned adding a little ease.

@loranwatkins of Loran’s World who said that in theater, they would make the tear into a small dart. She suggested taking the pieces apart, making a dart and sewing it back together.

And this suggestion from @marjoriesews who wondered whether it would be good to add a piece of leather or suede over the tear – sort of like the leather patches you put on the elbows of sweaters.

I searched my scraps to see if I had any of the original fabric and only found the lining fabric. So using matching fabric was out. So what about using a contrasting fabric, not in the strip but a shape? I pulled out some black cotton fabric and cut a semi-circle. I also have Petersham ribbons in my stash. I picked this 3/4″ cotton Petersham. I posted the two options on IG and asked people which one they preferred.

Two options - fabric or ribbon -

Everyone liked the ribbon – and I did, too. Brooke said it looked like an intentional design detail and other people agreed. The fabric didn’t look very good in comparison to the ribbon. So ribbon it was!

Here’s what I did to repair the tear:

  1. Put Fray Block on the torn edges so it wouldn’t tear any further while I worked on it.
    Fray Block on tear -
  2. Took an iron-on patch I had and cut two pieces to go over the tear – one for each side of the tear.
    Iron-on patch -
  3. Ironed a patch to the outside, leaving a slight gap to add a little ease.
    Iron-on patch trimmed -
    This is a photo from the lining side, showing the slight gap to add a bit of ease.
    Iron-on patch on outside -
  4. Ironed a patch to the lining side.
    Patch on lining side -
  5. Cut the Petersham ribbon so it would cover each side of the tear.
  6. Put Fray Block on the raw edges of the ribbon.
  7. Hand sewed the ribbon over the patches.

Here’s what the finished repair looks like. As you can see, it’s slightly off-center because the tear wasn’t exactly in the center, plus the patch I cut was a bit wide. This is the outside back…
Back with ribbon -

… and this is the lining side.

Inside lining - repair -

And here’s a close-up of the back:

Close-up of ribbon -

To recap:

Repairing a tear -

I told my husband how I got advice via IG and he was really impressed that people responded so quickly. He wanted me to thank everyone for helping to save his vest. Thanks so much everyone for your suggestions and comments on IG!


Bloglovin’ & Mercury Retrograde

I guess I must have done something wrong because I checked my Bloglovin’ account and it’s still telling me to “claim my blog.” Maybe I shouldn’t have deleted that earlier post. OK, so here we go again. I’m rather late to this Bloglovin’ thing but I have started following many other sewing bloggers using it.

Here’s the Bloglovin’ code again: Follow my blog with Bloglovin. I’m not sure if this means you need to click on this again if you’re already following me or what.

You can also follow my blog on Feedly. Here’s the button for that:

follow us in feedly

Maybe this is all part of Mercury being retrograde, which you can read about in this Oct. 28 HuffPo article Managing Mercury Retrograde. Here’s a brief snippet:

Mercury is the planet governing communication, transportation and truth. When it is in “retrograde,” its movement appears to be streaming backward in the skies, and that backward intention affects all forms of communication, whether that be via computer or person to person.

Ha! So maybe this is why I’ve got this problem. So I leave you with this image of the planet Mercury – courtesy of Photojournal of NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. Wouldn’t be fun to be able to tell people you worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory?