Summer Sewing

Get out that machine and give sewing a try (again) this summer.

It seems like lots of people have taken an interest in making things by hand these days, whether it be bread or soap or clothing. Some of the library staff have been busy baking sourdough, making masks, remodeling, tidying, and gardening during the time the library was closed, and for some of us the creative frenzy continues even now that we are back in the library.

If you have a sewing machine collecting dust and never really learned how to use it, check out this beginner level class on how to make a tote bag from Creativebug, one of the library’s most recent additions to our online resources.

To see the whole video, follow this link: Market Tote Bag.
You will need to login with your library card number and PIN.

Everyone can use another shopping bag, right? Well, maybe if it’s a cute, lined, one-of-a-kind version! In this session, instructor Cal Patch makes sure to explain the project in terms that any beginner will understand. There’s even a section on how to thread the needle. The good thing about Creativebug classes is that they are broken up into segments; if you don’t need to watch a section just skip ahead.

I tried out this project and found it to be easy to follow, but there are a few places where you can go wrong. I had to take mine apart twice! (It is pictured at the bottom of this article):

1. Make sure to pay special attention to what she does with attaching the straps. The straps must be placed on the outside of your bag cover before you put together the lining and outer cover.

2. Copy exactly what she’s doing when she’s putting the two layers together. The outer piece, whether liner or cover, needs to be wrong side out, and the inner piece needs to be right side out. On my final try I just did what she did and it worked.

The bag and strap dimensions are left up to the maker. I cut my bag pieces to 17″x17″ for a 16″ square bag. You could make yours smaller, larger, or rectangular. Even if you aren’t a beginner, you may be inspired by this project to start sewing again


In addition to lots of Creativebug sewing classes, the library has many books on sewing. Here are a few 2020 titles for you to check out!

Sew Step by Step: How to Use Your Sewing Machine to Make, Mend, and Customize by Alison Smith, would be a great choice for anyone wanting to learn in depth how to sew. With chapters on fabrics, stitches, hems, patterns, pleats, and more, you can’t go wrong with this handy and complete guide.

Maybe your life is focused right now on your kids, or maybe you miss your grandkids and would like to send them a surprise. Animal Friends to Sew: Simple Handmade Decor, Toys, and Gifts for Kids by Sanae Ishida contains lots of simple projects to choose from.

House of Pinheiro’s Work to Weekend Wardrobe: Sew Your Own Capsule Collection by Rachel Pinheiro while not for beginners, has designs for wardrobe staples that you can mix and match to get you through the work week and into the weekend, and there are even accessories. Many of the garments would be suitable for summertime.

If hand sewing is more your speed, Joyful Mending by Noriko Misumi shows techniques for artful mending and reusing of clothing and other worn items that we still enjoy, instead of throwing them away. These attractive repairs will make your clothing more original and you will likely treasure the pieces even more.

Joyful Mending: Visible Repairs for the Perfectly Imperfect Things We Love! (Paperback)

Quilt: Modern Curves and Bold Stripes by Heather Black and Daisy Aschehoug contains 15 different projects for all skill levels. Quilting can be fun to get into because you can make a beautiful quilt entirely with simple straight lines, but the modern designs in this book are heavy into circles, a favorite motif of mine.


Sewing can be peaceful and meditative, and/or challenging and frustrating, but it’s almost always rewarding in the end. Get out that machine and those fabrics you’ve had for years and give sewing another try.

The Question isn’t What’s in Your Closet but Why?

Earlier this year I decided to clear out the guestroom closet that had become a free for all. I pulled everything out and was dismayed by the 4 years accumulation of stuff that I found and did my best to sort and shift.

Recently, I also attempted to organize years’ worth of loose photos. A few weeks into this heroic endeavor, multiple stacks, and several wastebasket loads of photos…. I gave up. Organizing closets and photos, or any area out of order, can loom large, making us feel defeated before we even begin.

Luckily I came across a new approach and way to view my stuff in Gretchen Rubin’s new book Outer Order Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness.

The concepts of decluttering and organizing are hugely popular and there are a ton of books on the subject. In addition to Rubin’s book I found Martha Stewart’s latest Martha Stewart’s Organizing, Kyle Chayka’s The Longing for Less, and several books by Japanese sensation Marie Kondo, best known for coining the phrase ‘Does it Spark Joy?’

What is different in Rubin’s book is the ‘how’ of adopting change to fit lifestyle as opposed to a methodology. It reads like a guidebook balancing practicality with real life.

Here are a couple of her thoughts to consider: “there is not a best way to create a better life” and “for some people what looks like disorder works just fine.’” Isn’t that freeing! I took copious notes but a lot of it is common sense for example: “If you don’t own it you don’t have to organize it.” The book is broken up into 5 short chapters.

Here’s a snippet from the introduction:

  • Outer order saves time, money, space, energy, and patience
  • Outer order creates a feeling of sanctuary
  • Outer order reduces guilt and
  • Outer order creates a sense of possibility

Making choices: Do I need it? Do I love it? Do I use it? These questions are not an end in themselves. Rubin unpacks a mini psychology lesson, not a one size fits all approach.

The author explains “Outer order isn’t a matter of having less or having more; it’s a matter of wanting what we have.” This can serve as a launching point, making space to step back and assess what you have and lead to the process of deciding: do I need it, use it, or want it.

In addition to examining our stuff, Rubin’s approach tells us to ask ourselves what the purpose of doing a task is. If you set out without a clear purpose for cleaning your garage, you may get distracted and not finish. But if your purpose is to clean the garage so you have a place to park your car in the winter, chances are you’ll succeed.

Doing the simplest of task such as making your bed each morning, can set the tone for the day. Rubin admits some will disagree and take delight in not making their beds “Everyone’s happiness looks different.”

Tips: Don’t stockpile unless you plan on using it. Beware of fake work — spending a lot of time on a project. Perfecting something can become time consuming with little results. Beware of the Endowment Effect — freebies, giveaways, collecting for collecting sake.

The author sites an observation by David Ekerdt, a professor of sociology and gerontology: After age fifty chances that a person will divest himself or herself of possessions diminishes with each decade.

Gretchen says our identity plays into our reasoning, keeping too much stuff can keep us stuck. If you have a box full of mementos, sort through them and save a few to display. I encourage everyone wanting to make a fresh start to dive into this book for a deeper explanation and exploration of how to create order and find the happiness of inner harmony.

So often in life, I’ll be learning something new in one area only to find lessons reasserting themselves elsewhere. That place happened to be in Anne Tyler’s latest book The Redhead by the Side of the Road about a quirky, doggedly determined, yet endearing character named Micah. Micah is a neat freak but it’s not working out too well for him. For Anne Tyler Fans this is CLASSIC Tyler style.

My boxes of photos have not gone anywhere, while the closet is growing stuff inside it again. But I’m energized knowing I can start small and keep consistent: one day at a time.

Better Living Through Stitching Together

World Wide Knit in Public Day is Saturday, June 13, 2020. This largest knitter-run event in the world started in 2005 and is now celebrated in at least 57 countries. Volunteers all over the world host events to bring knitters together to socialize, learn new skills, and share the joy of knit and crochet with the general public.

Our library celebration couldn’t take place this year, so I thought it would be fun to look back at past events.

Yarn bombing is a type of knit and crochet graffiti or street art and we’ve had some exceptional examples at the library.

All ages are welcome to participate in the activities. There is a lot of talking and laughter while working on a current project for all to see.

Knitting competitions can be fierce with trophies for the winners!

Library staff enjoy knitting displays for the Children’s Department and Circulation Office.

I’m looking forward to World Wide Knit in Public Day 2021 when we can all get together again. In the meantime, check out these ebooks and magazines on OverDrive/Libby for inspiration and to improve your skills.

Hope to see you next year!

Library Video Highlights

There is no doubt that our patrons (and staff!) miss going to our stellar buildings and accessing all the library has to offer in person. While our locations remain shuttered and quiet for now, there is actually quite a lot going on in the virtual realm here at the library. So much so that you might have missed some of the great content being created by members of the community and staff for you to enjoy.

To help keep you up to date, here are few recent video highlights that you just might want to check out.

If you are feeling crafty, Elizabeth is here to help you create funky figures for all to enjoy.

Fred Cruger, a volunteer at the Granite Falls Historical Museum, gives an interactive demo of the Snohomish County Historic Register Map. A big “thank you” to Fred for sharing his expertise!

We are all about telling stories here at the library. Enjoy a few from our ever expanding selection of stories for children of all ages, read by a diverse cast of characters.

Miss Andrea entertains with an enthusiastic Toddler Storytime all about shapes.

In this Baby Storytime, Miss Emily with the help of her cat Celia read “The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton.

If you want to access more of our video content (and why wouldn’t you?) visit the Everett Public Library YouTube Channel or Facebook video feed. Happy viewing and stay tuned for more!

Feeling Lonely?

Stuck at home and lonely. That’s where a lot of us are right now! Let’s be sure not to confuse alone with lonely. Some people are perfectly happy to be alone to work on what they want. Many avoid being lonely by talking to friends on the phone or through Facebook, Zoom or whichever technology they may be using. Sone others, however, can be in a houseful of people and still feel socially isolated and desperate for human interactions that are outside of their family circle.

Hopefully, you are not alone and have family in the house with you and the ability to “be” with your friends.

Of course, being stuck indoors with family can also be annoying! I think everyone should have their own private space set aside where they can take time out from the world. Perhaps your bedroom with the door shut or even hang out in the laundry room or bathroom. Now may also be the time to institute a ‘quiet hour’ where everyone either naps or sits individually with a book or craft.

I have been looking at Creativebug, which is in our online resources, and have seen a lot of family friendly crafts that are easy to do with stuff you have lying around the house. There was an especially easy weaving project where all you need is some leftover bits of yarn and a piece of thin cardboard from the recycling bin to get you started.

Perhaps you have a yard you can sit in and enjoy. Why not have fun with your family and start a small vegetable or flower garden? Ask Ciscoe: Your Gardening Questions Answered by Ciscoe Morris is a great resource to get you started, and Small Garden Style by Jennifer Blaise Kramer will give you great ideas for making use of the smallest garden spaces such as patios or your deck. Early spring is the perfect time to start a garden. You may also want to see if there is a community garden in your neighborhood or a vacant lot that could become one.

While you may not be able to take a vacation right now, you can enjoy planning a trip. We have many Lonely Planet Travel Guides in ebook format to explore. Pretend you are going to Fiji, the South Pacific, Paris or Berlin! Or you can watch a show on Kanopy and take a virtual trip. On the tab ‘sciences’ under ‘zoology’ there are a number of shows about animals from all over the world. And of course, you won’t need a travel guide if you are sitting in your living room!

No matter what you find to do, it is good to remember that this is all temporary. You may even look back on it eventually and say “remember when we were all stuck at home? I kind of miss that.” Stay safe and healthy!

Ghosts in the Machine

Are you missing personal interaction with people other than your immediate family nowadays? We sure are here at the library. Helping people to access the library’s resources in person is one of the pillars of our service and, truth be told, one of the major reasons we love our jobs.

But if, like us, you are in need of some human interaction, don’t despair. We have created several videos so you can spend some quality digital time with the staff here at the library. The topics range from crafting to storytimes and beyond. But the real benefit just might be staying visually connected in these isolating times.

Create & Explore:

Feeling creative? If so, definitely check out Elizabeth’s Create @ Home series and follow along as she takes household items and turns them into art. Her latest has her getting creative with paper coasters and trivets:

Since you probably have more than enough time to contemplate your immediate family right now, why not delve into your ancestry to make them seem more interesting? Lisa has you covered with an excellent video on how to get started with the Library edition of Ancestory.com. Enjoy the rocking intro!

Let Us Tell You a Story

When it comes to face time in the library world, let’s admit it, children’s librarians take the cake. Their enthusiasm is contagious to children and adults alike. We have two ongoing video series to highlight their talents and keep you entertained: eStorytimes and Book Bites. There is a lot of great content here, but here are two favorites.

Miss Eileen introduces us to the itsty, bitsy, spider:

Join Miss Andrea as she shows us the best way to say hello to friends:

From the Vault

We have actually been making short videos at the library for a fairly long time. Peruse our YouTube channel to access all of the content including our Everett Massacre Centennial series, poetry reading and much more. Here are two from the lighter side to make you chuckle and incite some nostalgia for out beloved downtown location. Hopefully we will all be back soon!

A Shakespeare fight between Tyler and Linaea in the sorting room.

A squirrel enjoys the reading room.

Homemade relief for your dry hands? Yes, please!

Lotion bars made by EPL staff member JoAnna

Hands getting dry after all the hand washing?  My horribly dry, painful hands got me thinking about what I could do to heal them, since regular old lotion isn’t cutting it. Then I remembered my coworker JoAnna had made a lot of lotion bars, which are very moisturizing, and it turns out she’s tested the following tutorial.

You’ve probably heard by now about our newest arts and crafts resource, Creativebug. I have looked at it quite happily for quick and easy art projects, but hadn’t thought to look for tutorials on making soaps, lotions, and other skincare and natural home products. But they do indeed have such classes. If you are looking for some relief for your hands, check out this quick and simple DIY Lotion Bar tutorial.

Tips from JoAnna:

* You can substitute coconut oil for one of the butters.
* If you do not have a double boiler, you can make it in a small crockpot or in the microwave. Be sure to use a glass bowl in the microwave as the beeswax takes a long time to melt and the bowl will get very hot.
* Melt the beeswax first, once melted you can add the other butters to mix.
* You can add vitamin E to help with skin repair; break 1-2 capsules into the mix.
* If you do not have any molds on hand, you can use silicone cupcake holders.
* Put completed bars in a tin or plastic bag to store so they don’t get messy.
* Beware, in warm temperature they can melt.
* To use, hold in your cupped hands. The warmth of your hands will soften the wax.
* The ingredients can be ordered and delivered from hobby and craft stores, or soap making supply companies.


Besides Creativebug (which really has tons of great classes) we have eBooks about making your own bath, skin care, and cleaning products.

The Organic Country Home Handbook by Natalie Wise, includes recipes for cleaning all areas of the home, from kitchen to bath, and everywhere in between. If you are so inclined you can find everything you need here to do some spring cleaning! There is also a chapter, “The Medicine Cabinet” that features homemade skin care products.

DIY Beauty: Easy, All-Natural Recipes Based on Your Favorites from Lush, Kiehl’s, Burt’s Bees, Bumble and bumble, Laura Mercier, and More!
by Ina De Clercq
From lip balm to bath bombs, these recipes attempt to recreate best-loved products from popular beauty product companies.

Homemade Bath Bombs & More: Soothing Spa Treatments for Luxurious Self-Care and Bath-Time Bliss by Heidi Kundin
This book focuses on bath bombs and other fun and luxurious bath products such as sugar scrubs, body butter, and bath jellies. Bath jellies? I will have to look that one up!

Natural Beauty: 35 Step-by-Step Projects for Homemade Beauty by Karen Gilbert
These ‘lotion and potion’ recipes for face, body, and hair, use readily available, natural ingredients and easy-to-follow methods.


I hope Creativebug classes and our crafty eBooks inspire you to try your hand at making healthy, simple home and beauty products! And may your hands be in much better shape than mine.

The Art of Making Soap

Anne-Marie Faiola is the owner of Bramble Berry, a soap supplies store in Bellingham, Washington. This is the third soap book that Faiola has written. Her first, Soap Crafting, is a useful resource. It is for all skill levels, and has 31 recipes covering all different special effects, colors, additives and molds. Her second book, Pure Soapmaking, focuses on making natural soaps. She includes 32 recipes that have all natural ingredients, colorants, and scents.

Faiola’s latest book, Milk Soaps, is all about adding milk to your soaps. There are 35 recipes in this book, and they range from beginner to advanced levels; the levels are determined by their techniques. The recipes include the type of molds and special tools that were used, and list the oils, amount of lye water, fragrance oil, colorants, and additives used.

Why do you want to add milk to your soaps? Most soaps are made with water, and Anne-Marie equates adding milk to soap to making hot chocolate. Do you notice a difference when you add milk versus water to your chocolate? Milk soap creates a rich lather and is creamier than soap made with water. The natural oils and acids in the milk add more moisturizing qualities to your soap.You’ll learn the different milks that can be used and the soap making process.

If you are just beginning to make soap the cold process way, using lye, you should watch a video on soap making and how to use lye, such as this one on Creativebug. Bramble Berry has some good videos too.

Faiola suggests that if you have never made soap before, to start off with a basic recipe so you can get an understanding of the process. Adding milk does complicate the process a little. What I did when I first got into soap making last year was buy a beginner’s kit from Bramble Berry. They have 2 kits, one that includes a scale, goggles and a mold, and another kit that just has the ingredients in it. I have made the basic cold-process recipe in the Milk Soaps book but I put bubble wrap inside my mold.

Bubble wrap basic soap

With each recipe you can change the mold, the essential oils, colorants and additives. You can use any kind of milk with each recipe. This way you can be making your own soap. I would not change the lye mixture and oil amount. If you change the oil this is where the SAP value of the oils comes into play. SAP value is a quick way of saying the ‘saponification’ value – when lye and oil are mixed the process of the mixture becoming soap is called saponification. Faiola discusses properties of different oils, along with their SAP value, which you will need to know if you are designing your own recipes, and adding color and scent and exfoliants to your soap.

I have made a few recipes in the book so far and they have all turned out great, and as you will see, I changed the mold, essential oils and colorants in my soaps compared to what is in the book.

I made the In-the-Pot Swirl Buttermilk Castile soap. Instead of lavender and peppermint essential oil blend I used Raspberry Jam. And the olive oil I used was the extra virgin oil which I had in my cupboard. This caused the soaps to be darker. I did find that making a soap of pure oil takes a long time to come to trace. I had to put my blender down a few times because it felt like it was burning in my hand. This was the first recipe I made out of the book and it is a beginner recipe.

In-the-Pot Swirl Buttermilk Castile soap

Another recipe I made was the Dead Sea-Salt Brine Bar. As you will see I changed out my mold to a citrus mold, changed my oils to a grapefruit fragrance oil, and my colorant was changed to an orange color to represent the grapefruit. The directions said the recipe would move fast and it did. You have to be quick to get it in the mold. These bars don’t take long to set up at all. This was an intermediate recipe.

Dead Sea-Salt Brine Bar

Another recipe I tried making was the Hangered Drop Swirls recipe which is another intermediate recipe. In this recipe I changed my milk to coconut milk, changed my fragrance to Lemongrass and tea tree oil, and changed my colorant to green and activated charcoal. I made this one for my nephews and felt the lemongrass would be a little more masculine. This is a very nice soap but takes a while to get the swirling down.

Hangered Drop Swirls soap

If you are a soap maker and have your own favorite recipe, you could certainly use that and change out some of the water for a milk product. You can use this book for ideas on techniques.

As Faiola says, “Handmade is bestmade”.

Give cold-process soap making a try, you will find it rewarding and addicting. Making your own soap allows you to control the ingredients, and it makes washing up more fun I think.

How to Make a Face Mask

Masks made by EPL staff for mailing to family and sharing locally.
The City of Everett is accepting mask/face covering donations. Instructions can be found here.

The CDC is now recommending that everyone wear a face covering when going out in public places to help control the spread of the coronavirus that caused COVID-19.  

“CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

From “Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19” This article contains three designs; two are no-sew.


As you’ve probably heard, masks for medical professionals are in very short supply. In response, many people were sewing hundreds of thousands of masks for hospitals through Providence’s “100 Million Mask Challenge.” According to that website, no more are needed because local manufacturing companies have now jumped in to help and are mass producing masks and shields – great news indeed!

We can keep from spreading the disease to others by wearing a mask, and possibly make ourselves safer at the same time, but finding one can be very difficult. Since medical masks should be reserved for medical professionals, we are being encouraged to make our own – hence, the mask making craze that’s sweeping the nation.

Before jumping in to the video tutorials, here a some suggestions I have read multiple times:

  1. Use tightly woven cotton fabric, such as quilting cotton. Tip: Hold two layers up to the light to see how dense it is.
  2. Make sure the fit on your mask is good – gaps are to be avoided.
  3. Make sure to follow good hygiene with your mask. This article “How NOT to Wear a Mask” from the New York Times is full of good information.

There are many, many tutorials out there on making masks, and there are several styles as well. Some incorporate a pocket for a filter, some do not. Some patterns are form fitting, some pleated, some gathered. Many require a sewing machine, but there are plenty of no-sew versions as well.

Speaking of sewing, check out the Creativebug Sewing Machine Basics class. There are many other sewing classes to discover in that fun, new-to-EPL resource, so check it out.

I spent some time looking at different tutorials and found these to be easy to follow. They range from very easy with no sewing involved, to requiring a bit of machine sewing familiarity.

A simple pleated mask from Providence St. Joseph

This pattern, suitable for beginners, uses straight lines and ties. The most difficult part is probably sewing through the thick pleated sections.

A fitted mask that has space for a filter

This pattern, similar to the style I made, conforms to the face nicely with little gapping. The presenter, who happens to be a doctor, explains the process clearly. It is intended to be safe enough for medical professionals.This pattern requires a bit of sewing experience, but isn’t really difficult.


A simple but effective drawstring pattern that uses cord instead of elastic

This is a well thought out design and provides great coverage. It has no pleats to deal with and only uses straight lines. It features a filter pocket and a wire to conform around the nose.
I made one of these and it is comfortable and very easy to make. You have to be careful how you put it on so that there is no gapping – check out the Q&A video she made here. If you follow the directions for putting it on, it fits very nicely.



Besides sewn fabric masks, there are face coverings you can made from socks, bandanas or t-shirts, shop towels, and NWPP reusable shopping bags.

A quick and easy mask made from shop towels

If you have a roll of paper shop towels around, you may want to try this out. All you need is one towel, a stapler, and two rubber bands.


My mask

I wanted to make a mask to wear when visiting my 95 year old mother, so started with a free pattern from Peanut Patterns. After making one, I decided I wanted more coverage below the chin, so added about 1.5″ to the length. Here is the process I used in images. If you like the looks of this one, follow the link to get the free pattern and directions. I will admit I messed up and had to fix my first one, so consider making a test one first with a fabric you don’t love. I find this mask fits well and is sturdy, easy to wash, and quick to dry, and it fits in a small pocket in my purse for when I head over to help my mom.

1. Copy pattern onto card stock if you want to make several – it’s quick to trace. Then double fabric and cut out two of these shapes, resulting in four pieces. 2. Stack two pieces right sides together and sew the long, most curved edge at the top of the photo. Use 3/8″ seam allowance. Do this to both sets. 3. Press the seam apart (I found it easier to press them back as shown. 4. Open the two sets and place right sides together, making sure you have the curves matching (It would be easy to turn them opposite ways) 5. Sew along the top edge. 6. Turn right side out and press. 7. Open out and press 3/8″ seam along sides, fold over and press again. 8. Attach elastic at the same time that you sew down the seam pressed in step 7. (I used looped hair ties) 9. Close up photo of attached elastic. 10. Fold mask closed and top stitch top edge 1/8″ from edge. 11. Turn inside out and sew bottom edge. 12. Turn right side out through open ends. 13. Sew ends closed and top stitch bottom edge. Done!

If you make a mask or two, remember to wear them wisely, as described in this article, wash after use, and definitely keep washing your hands! Use what you have at home for mask making instead of leaving home to find materials. If you enjoy it and want to make more to donate, visit this City web page and follow the specific instructions on how to properly and safely donate masks. Stay home, and stay safe.


Keep your hands active and your mind engaged with Creativebug

Following the state’s Stay Healthy, Stay Home order is causing many of us to be a little stir-crazy right now. The library is here to help! You now have free unlimited access to over 1,000 online video arts and craft classes with the Creativebug database in our E-Resources page. Create an account with your email and a password and you’re ready to go.

Improve your skills in your favorite craft or discover something new. Ceramics, painting, sewing, quilting, paper crafting, knitting, crochet, baking, cake decorating, and jewelry making are only some of the categories offered.

Learn how to make sparkly slime with your kids, knit a custom-fit dog sweater, get your doodle on, bake peanut butter and jelly cups, or make your own bath bombs. You can spend hours just looking at all that’s available.

For knitters and crocheters there is a pattern library of free downloadable knit and crochet patterns. Crochet a sloth or knit zig-zag knee socks.

Be sure to explore the Creativebug Inspiration Feed. Browse photos of finished projects posted by crafters like you. Follow the Creativebug Instagram feed and their Facebook page for even more ideas. Watch CBTV (Creativebug Television) to meet the instructors, view documentaries and an archive of their Live Facebook videos.

New classes are added daily, so be sure to check back often!