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There is a sub-set category of Spo-shirts called ‘The Yoke” Collection’. They are plain-colored garments (if you want to call bright primary colors ‘plain’) with quilted yokes and pockets. The yokes are made from scraps of previous projects; they are an encyclopedia of my industry. I can look at them and remember what shirt or quilt was made for whom.

Last March I started a purple one only to put it away in a drawer for six months to focus on making masks.

Yesterday I finally finished it:

It turned out well – but there are two problems:

#1 – All dressed up and nowhere to go! I debut a new shirt at ‘Happy Hour’ or while on holiday. I make an ingress while channeling my inner-Musetta only to make everyone turn their heads my way and be mad-jealous by my ensemble which of course never happens. I should put it away for the time it is safe to go somewhere.

#2 – Dammit it doesn’t fit well! My present physique is nothing like it was last March.Oh the embarrassment! Oh the shame! It needs a lot of work before I feel comfortable wearing it.


For newer Spo-fans, here are photos of the previous Yoke shirts.


I haven’t posted in awhile but I’ve been a busy buster. At work I’ve had a few ‘firsts’: Thursday last I saw no at-office patients but did them all via telephone and video. On Friday I worked from home. I have never done either. The experience is worth a blog entry but not right now.

Yesterday the CDC announced when have to go out we should all wear a mask. There are no proper masks to be found of course and what is available ought to go to folks who really need them like medical personnel and grocery store employees. So what’s a person to do under these circumstances?  It was suggested to ‘make your own’. Who knew my mania for shirt making – and a big bag of scraps – not only would come in handy but be life saving? * Last night when I should have been sleeping I downloaded a pattern for the New York Times and got to work…..



The initial one is rather crude but it is a run through to get me aquatinted with what do and how to adjust them to fit etc.  I usually am a stickler for detail but I’ve decided to literally cut corners to speed up production. 

I have lots of fabric in all sorts of fabulous colours and pattens; we are going to be in the height of fashion.


Who else can boast having shirts and masks to match? Suffer Gucci !


Someone and I have a basic set of two each: one for wearing and the one for the wash. I am on a mission now to make as many masks as possible. I plan to start with the folks who need them the most: thems who are elderly and out in the public like my parents and our favorite cashier at Uncle Albertsons.  Then – make as many as who wants one. 

After this all ends the masks can be used as impromptu jock straps. 


*I am a big believer in throwing out useless and rubbish items but I haven’t had the heart to discard my bags of fabric scraps. Over the years several large black trash bags have accumulated in the closest.  Sometimes hoarding pays off. 

Blue yoke II c

It has been a while since I last made a shirt. Well, here’s one.  Blue Yoke II.  I looked it up: this is Shirt #110 ! 50% are made for others; the other 50% I keep as my pride and joy hoard.

Once upon a time I made a navy blue shirt whose yoke was a quilt of scrapes from previous shirts and projects. A photo of it is today’s header. It was sort of an encyclopedia of my industry; I could look at the various bits and remember where it came from. Alas Babylon! I lost it! It is the only shirt I’ve lost.  I believe I left it in a hotel room when attending a conference in New Orleans. I’ve been meaning to make another. A yoke shirt requires more thought and more work. Indeed after I made the quilt I couldn’t remember how to sew it into the shirt! I had to look up an old pattern I haven’t used in ages.  But it was finally done and not too bad either. Like its predecessor the back is a quilt of project remnants.

Blue yoke II e


For thems interested: starting at the upper row and going left to right:

Flies: Doug T.

Yellow retro ;  Larry H.

Palm tree on pink: Scott J.

Brown bits: George M.

Butterfly: the late Cajun from Delaware

Parrot: Tim C.

Dr. Who: Erik R.

Astronomy: Ron T.

Grawlix : Larry H. (again)

Tsunami wave: Laurence B.

Dachshunds: William H.

Red/green frond bit: Richard S.

The other squares are from shirts I kept for myself. 🙂


Hope I don’t lose this one !




Well! I made a shirt last weekend and I forget to post it!  This one is made from a fabric that had blue and green colors looking like they were applied by a paint roller. I got me a few yards and cut away the white edges; I made the pieces into this hodge-podge design. It is like no other Spo-shirt I’ve made so far. I like it. I wore it to work today and it got several compliments. I will take it to Santa Fe tomorrow. Perhaps I will wear it to the Santa Fe Opera’s production of “La Boheme”. Suffer, Musetta! 


One of my pending holiday companions wants to make his Palm Springs ingress dressed in the height of Spo-fashion; he asked me to make for him a new shirt. ‘Send me three yards of fabulous fabric’ I instructed him. He sent some – and this is the end product.

I’m pleased as punch it turned out well Usually there is a hiccup or blemish but this one did not have such. It is shirt #109 – can you imagine?

The pattern was peculiar to me. I thought to enter it as “The punctuation shirt”.  A few Facebook comments got me to connect the dots and have a revelation: it is a grawlix shirt!

Grawlix (n.) : a series of typographical symbols used in text as a replacement for profanity. Example:  @#$%&! 

I don’t know if this is my friend’s intent; he is not known for his salty lexicon. I merely hope it fits and he likes it.



Tony G. (the dear!) recently asked how I started making shirts. It is a good story, one I often tell my patients for it has a good lesson to it. I thought I would share it not only with Tony but with Spo-fans.

Sometimes when a patient admires the Spo-shirt I’m wearing to work I thank them for the compliment and then I tell them I made it. Often they are incredulous that I did so; they sometimes admire my ‘talent’ to sew.  I tell them this tale:

Many years ago chums and I would holiday every winter in the Florida Keys. A woman there had a shirt shop. She made loud colorful aloha-style shirts. I loved them and every year I would get a new one as a souvenir. This went on for four or five years. Then she announced she was retiring; there would be no more shirts. I became lugubrious. I wasn’t going to get anymore shirts. While I lamented this loss one friend said “Hey, I got an idea! Why don’t you make your own?” My immediate emotional response was “Oh, I can’t do that”. I then listed the many reasons why I can’t: I didn’t have a sewing machine; I didn’t know how to sew; I had no relations who could teach me.  Another friend said “Well, you could learn”.  My response to this was to point out I didn’t have time to do the things I needed and wanted to do let alone find time to learn how to sew – it was not possible.  A third friend, Jerrold, who sews for a living, hummphed and pointed out if junior-high school girls can do this so could I.  It dawned on me then what I just said: “I can’t do that” and “It’s not possible”.  These are big no-nos in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in which one looks at negative reasoning, assumptions, and fears. I call out patients on these all the time. So I decided to try, somewhat to show Jerrold but mostly not to be a hypocrite. Doctor heal thyself.

I borrowed Someone’s sister’s sewing machine and I bought a ‘sewing for idiots’ pattern. I purposely didn’t take lessons but tried on my own. After a lot of trial and error and more than a few frustrated near-abortions I finally made me a shirt. The garment was crude but I had the satisfaction I had succeeded. Now, that was to be it; I wasn’t planning on continuing the challenge. To my surprise I discovered I actually liked sewing.  I figured if I made a second shirt it would be much better. So I did……

That was many years ago. Since then I’ve made over a hundred shirts. I got better at it. I didn’t have the ‘knack’ but practice made improvements. In time I also learned how to take in/out my trousers and do cuffs. I’ve made curtains and quilts. Seasoned Spo-fans know I once sent a shirt around the world for a fund raiser. What was supposed to be six months-long endeavor to six or eight people ended up lasting two years. International strangers saw it and they wanted to be participate. By the time the shirt returned it came attached to many new people I now count as friends. Mitchell at Mitchell is Moving! is an example.

So –  I have a hobby I enjoy and I developed autodidact skills.  I have a network of friends – and it’s all because one day I didn’t succumb to “I can’t do that/it’s impossible” but I said ‘Maybe I can do that; maybe it’s not impossible; I will try”.

It’s amazing what can happen when we challenge or negative assumptions.

At this point in my narrative to the patient I add: “I think if I went back in time to myself ten years ago and said “Hello! I’m from the future! Look at what you’re going to be doing”  I think my younger self would respond “Are you high? I have no desire, no talent, not time go back to The Twilight Zone as that isn’t happening”.

To this day whenever I am faced with something new and unfamiliar I still have an emotional response to become timorous and want to back away. I then remind myself ‘this is how you felt about making a shirt, so why don’t you try it’. Most of the time I do try and most of the time I find it a marvelous experience.

Go thou and do likewise. 🙂



I can’t believe I made a shirt without posting about it!  I finished this one a few days ago and put it away in the closet for it is too cold for Spo-ware at the moment.  It is Sho-shirt #108 if my numbering system is accurate.  I christened it “The Green Shirt” a precise if not too imaginable of a sobriquet. I like that my favorite buttons go well with the pattern of the fabric.  I can rest easy now knowing I have a new camisa for next month’s Palm Spring holiday.

Spo shirt.JPG

This one may be my best-made shirt yet. I am proud that there was not one bungle not one impediment in its making.   I am certain it will become one of my favorites. The fabric is called “Palm Springs”. It takes it inspiration from the retro-style now so popular again. I must get to Palm Springs soon, and parade it up and down Palm Canyon Drive ala Musetta.

I wore it to work yesterday. We were supposed to go out afterwards with a couple from Someone’s work, but they canceled. Someone texted me would I like him to bring my gym bag and we could to exercise. Hell no. I’m not making the shirts debut at LA Fitness. We went to happy hour where I had pink cosmos to match.  I was pleased as Punch.


I am nearly done making a shirt and I am not certain if I will finish it.  As I worked on it this weekend, I am sensed a strong desire to stop and throw it away despite it being nearly done. In all my years of making Spo-shirts, was is the first time I have felt such.  

Once upon a time I used to feel obliged to finish a book or a meal ordered in a restaurant even when I wasn’t no longer enjoying it. Nowadays I don’t force myself to do either – so is it OK to do so with sewing projects?

The shirt in question doesn’t have a major fault to it but rather an accumulation of little disappointments.  The pattern is a whimsical assortment of tropical birds on a bright white background I now find a bit puerile.  Sometimes I buy fabric I think will be fabulous only to grow disenchanted with it as it evolves into an actual shirt.  This ‘Toucan” shirt has a lot of minor blips and errors to it – things I should be better at avoiding by now.  The seams have a jagged edge to them just enough to make me displeased.  Said shirt merely needs the buttonholes and buttons to be concluded, but the joy is gone. 

I thought of finishing it and posting a photo here at Spo-reflections or on Facebook and announcing ‘It’s yours if you want it. Free Spo-shirt !” I would count the raised hands (if any) and make it into a lottery. Out of vanity I probably won’t do this. With its blips and hiccups I would be embarrassed to have someone receive it. This runt of the litter may  have to stay home and be back in the closet, where I can look at it from time to time, and feel guilt both to discard it and to keep it. 

Perhaps I am being too hard on myself. Maybe I have obtained the wisdom not all my work will be wonderful or worth keeping. Despite the time and energy (and expense) I put into these shirts, it is OK to crumble them up like paper of a bad sketch and into the rubbish it goes. 

All the same, it is a bit of a downer to feel a disappointment. It is one thing to put up with a tedious job but a tedious hobby makes no sense. 


Update:  soon after I wrote this I went into the other room and finished it. 


Yesterday  Someone left home alone sans car (again). After finishing some there’s-work-to-be-done tasks I turned to sewing, which I have not done in a while. I am working on a Dr. Who shirt for a fellow blogger and a tropical bird shirt for myself. I was on a roll, so I got out my log cabin quilt.



A typical log cabin quilt block – not my own. 

For Spo-fans unfamiliar with quilting, a log cabin pattern is made of strips of fabric encircling a square. They are simple to make for it is merely sewing together strips of cloth.  Many years ago – more than I can remember –  I fancied  making a quilt for the bed. I practiced making some small ‘beginner’ quilts in prior to the big one. I bought the 6-7 different fabrics needed, I cut them into ribbons, and then I starting sewing. After making a few squares I would lose interest or have shirts to do; I would put away the strips and squares for later.  “Later” is now over ten years ago; I am fairly certain I started this before I moved to AZ in 2005.  It’s high time it comes to a conclusion. I pulled out the materials and started sewing.

This is as good a place as any to point out I don’t know what I am doing. It is easy enough to make log cabin squares and link them together into bigger and bigger squares. What I don’t know is how to finish it. It would help if I knew the needed dimensions for an established end product. Is this to be a wall quilt, something you frame and hang, or am I making a bed quilt –and for which bed? When I started we had a queen size mattress and now we have a king.

Yesterday I made twelve more squares – and it all came to a sudden halt for I had ran out of the one of the strips. What the hell?  I have lots of the others so what happened to the pale green one? Was I so off in my calculations ten years ago I short sheeted myself? Bottom line: I can’t make any more squares.    The step in the process titled “Just keep making squares” is done.

A google search for ‘light green fabric’ has a modest eleven million hits for me to wade through.  It will be impossible to find this cloth ten years later.  Putting in a substitute green cloth would make it look bad.  This is all she wrote.  So that answers the question how big will it be: 8×10 squares with twelve more to expand it somehow on either end.

Now what?

I think it is time for me to put it all in a Santa Claus sack and go to the local quilting shop and seek out a teacher. I am sorely needing advice what to do. I suppose ‘framing it’ with strips can expand it enough to cover a king-sized bed.  I need to figure out how to quilt such a large piece.  Perhaps I should take a quilting class! This is possible, but I suspect if  Urs Truly entered into a likely all-female class I would be looked upon as an outsider, an interloper, an object of suspicion. So a personal trainer in quilting sounds a better route to go.

It pleases me I am finally getting this done.

UPDATE: here is a photo of my quilt.


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September 2020

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