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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

On Pins and Needles

Finding the right sort of needle on a website is almost as difficult as the proverbial search for one in a haystack.  My hypothetical coauthor of what (we hope) will become a wildly successful mystery novel was stricken with a sinus headache this afternoon and so I spent a quiet but productive evening at home, sewing on the Camper’s Tent Maker machine I inherited from my father.  While listening to an audiobook, I busily pieced over a dozen upholstery-fabric bags using Dabond sail-worthy thread (heavy stuff that purports to withstand wind, water and UV rays, among other natural and unnatural forces—I figured it would be perfect for bookbags), and then, disaster.  After months of good service, what turned out to be my last size 20 needle broke.  

To be fair, it had successfully withstood dozens of encounters with straightpins which I was using to hold the sides of the bags together for stitching, but this final barricade was too much.  I had hoped that the #18 needles I found in my notions drawer would be sufficient to handle the thick Dabond, but the thread kept splitting and bunching, turning into a snarl.

Discovery: Unlike wire, which drops in gauge number as its diameter increases, the larger the number of the sewing machine needle, the larger the hole at the tip.  A #20 is almost at the outer limit, not something that conventional fabric stores have in abundance.  I will have to wait until the two packets of #20s arrive from Sailrite.com (it seems my father was not the only one who liked to improve the rigging on his boat himself, rather than trusting to the dubious skills of "professional" vendors—it wasn’t until I pretended to be a sail modifier that I was able to find the right website, Amazon.com and my local fabric retailer having let me down) before I can continue this particular creative project.

In the meantime, my common room is once again a wreck (I have to clean it up within ten days, as I am hosting a Valentines drop-in/Jewelry Show on the afternoon of Saturday, February 11), and if I can avoid lancing my feet with the errant pins which are littering the rug, it will be a miracle.

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