Have you ever had one of those "Lucille Ball in the Chocolate Factory" type days when you just feel overwhelmed?  Well, I felt too stupid for words after my episode in the sewing room today, lol... but it's better to tell you about it than for it to happen to you, so here goes:

Microbeads are kind of pricey, so I don't waste them on things like...oh...making pillows for myself.  I have a really old favorite squishy little microbead filled pillow that's sized just right, and another one that's new but way too thick.  The little one was sometimes releasing something that looked like a fine powder (I think it may have been put into a clothes-dryer at some point, possibly damaging the beads, and it was umpteen years old) so I thought I'd remove the old questionable factory filling and refill it with half the good microbeads from the too-bulky newer pillow.  And here comes the Lucille Ball part...

I didn't want to contaminate the special enclosed acrylic case that I stuff microbead breast forms in when I make them for others, nor did I want to use the special funnel or my usual tools, as I like to keep anything like that totally secured and clean.  Instead, I grabbed some measuring cups and a bowl from the kitchen, a huge clear garbage bag, and some scissors.  I snipped open the two pillows inside the garbage bag, dumped the filling out of one and poured half the filling from the other one into a stainless steel mixing bowl in preparation for funneling it into the little pillow form.  Picture it, there I am, all smug that I know how to work with microbeads and this will be a five minute job...and then things went slightly awry, to put it mildly. 

First of all, if you've worked with microbeads, you KNOW about static electricity, how it's even worse on some days...so I always work with anti-static spray or dryer sheets nearby, which I FORGOT to grab before sitting down to work with the pillows.  My arms became covered.  With every movement, the teensy white beads flew up and out onto my clothes, the carpet, etc...which must have caused just enough stress to trigger a hot flash. Oh freakin' joy... have you ever been covered with a snowstorm of static-filled microbeads AND had a sheen of moisture exit your pores?  It sort of GLUES them to you, no shaking them off!

There I sat, longing for a dryer sheet, a vacuum cleaner, some help from hubby who was soundly napping at the other end of the house.  Oh well, I thought..may as well continue working.  Something you may not know about microbeads is that in a stainless mixing bowl, they not only can begin to stick to it but they'll build up about 1/4 inch thick and you can't scoop them out with a measuring cup at some point.  As static builds, they also may not leave the measuring cup that you're trying to pour them out of.  Sigh...what ELSE will happen.

To make a long story slightly shorter, let's just say that after about an hour and a half of struggling, the microbeads were balanced between the two pillow covers and I managed to get enough beads off them to take them outside the big garbage bag.  Looking around, I realized that my arms, bare legs, and clothing was totally covered, and I still had to sew the pillows shut.  In reaching for needle and thread, microbeads began to fall on my sewing table, flying to attach themselves to several cones of serger thread, the serger, my sewing machine, the scissors, the pincushion, and every little sewing gadget on the table.

After finishing the hand-stitching, another half hour of using a small shop vac on the room and myself, and then using a regular vac with a beater bar to agitate the little microbeads out of the carpet (and oh yes, had to even vacuum out the inside of my sneakers because the microbeads that liked my socks had rolled down them as static electricity changed around me with the use of the vacuum cleaners, I suppose. 

Finally, I no longer look like the abominable snow-woman, my equipment is again clean, I'm not dropping microbeads as I walk, and things are back to somewhat normal.  I tell you all this because of how many times I've told people who want to make a pair of microbead forms to 'just buy a little squishy pillow and use those if you don't want to buy a whole bag of microbeads', and 'work inside a garbage bag'.  I deeply apologize to any and all who may have taken short-cuts and found themselves in a snowstorm of beads, because they seem to have even MORE static than anyone can imagine at times!

My advice?  Don't even THINK about working with microbeads unless you have a box of dryer sheets and a small vacuum in reach, and a totally empty room to work in, with the door shut.  Better yet, cover the drain in your totally dry tub or shower, and go in there to transfer the microbeads into your sewn breast forms while holding the beads and all your materials inside a large clear zippered blanket bag that you can zip shut if you need to...also remember to have some pins to hold the forms closed until you can stitch them!  Don't use a garbage bag unless you have nothing else because they seem to ENCOURAGE static to build.  Have a shop vacuum plugged in and ready to vacuum yourself and any spillage as soon as you exit, making sure no beads go down any drains because they FLOAT, they won't wash away.

So, people wonder why I machine sew two seams around the microbead breast forms I make, and make up to 4 or 5 extra layers of stitching at the spot I sew them shut?  I don't want any of them to ever escape!  Please don't take any shortcuts with yours, either, when you're making them.  TRUST me on this, as I sit here with tiny white beads gently falling onto the keyboard... what the...oh drat, I forgot to vacuum my hair....sigh......