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Cheaper Than Weekly Vocal Lessons

Singing Success CourseSinging Success Course by Brett Manning

Singing Success Vocal Course for At-Home Study

My wife, Donna, decided to take vocal lessons since a teacher was only a mile away. The weekly half-hour visits left her frustrated with not getting enough out of the lesson. She began to think about how many dollars could be invested in this "project" and looked online to find out if there were any quality singing / vocal courses online. She wasn’t interested in a professional career, but wanted to improve her voice to simply enjoy singing more.

There was a lot there, but the one she decided to order was Brett Manning’s Singing Success course. She’s really been enjoying it and is able to practice several times a week for as long as her vocal chords can tolerate. She’s been very excited. She had saved gift money from my parents for birthday and Christmas and was able to purchase this personally rewarding gift and share the excitement with them. They were thrilled that she chose a gift that could make a difference in her life.

If you’ve got somebody in your family that wants to learn more about singing, this course offers methods that she had never seen or heard of elsewhere. She has increased her vocal range greatly in only one month with the exercises given on the CD’s.  For that reason be decided to add it to this website.  If you order, be sure to email us after you get into the course.  Donna would love to "compare notes" with you.

Read more about Brett Manning’s Singing Success Vocal Course for At-Home Study

Vocal Articles by Brett Manning:
Building a Successful Sound
The Trouble With Singing
Singing FAQ

Finding Brassiere Underwires

Q. This will sound like an odd question but here it is: Is there someplace (or somehow) to get replacement under wires for brassieres? I am forced to wear under wire bras for necessary support but the under wires tend to break long before the rest of the bra (fabric, shoulder straps, etc.) wears out. I hate to discard an almost perfect (and rather expensive) piece of clothing and have tried unsuccessfully to locate and purchase replacement under wires to repair the bras with. If you or your readers have any suggestions they would certainly be appreciated! Keep up the great work with your newsletter. I love it and it has saved me quite a bit of money.

Editor’s Note Regarding Safety Issues:  According to the American Cancer Society (ACS )webpage, safety concerns have not been confirmed, and the ACS does not say that women should not use underwires. See link for more specifics on the American Cancer Society findings.

A.  I have seen them at fabric stores. 

A.  I’ve made bras, so I suspect I’m probably close to an expert on these….If you just need one or two, check out your local fabric store, such as Hancocks.  They are usually somewhere near the notions (by the shoulder pads). Another option is to try Goodwill or Salvation Army for an old bra you can scrounge the underwires out of. If you don’t mind mail order or want a bunch, try this link: The company has a good reputation, although I’ve not ordered from them. Valerie

A.  I too have the same problem with the underwires. And since I haven’t been able to find the underwires, what I do is donate the bras.  Believe it or not, the charities in my area receive very little in the way of female undergarments. Just a thought. Bobbie

A.  Need to check out a place called Bra Makers Supply.  They appear to have a gazillion sizes of underwires as well as other parts for bras.  This is a Canadian company but my experience showed me it’s not difficult at all to buy from Canada as long as you use a major credit card.  Gerry

A.  I rummaged around on the internet and this is about the only hopeful site I found.  Addresses for lingerie supplies in general: Banasch’s –   "Supplies & equipment for the apparel, tailoring and dry cleaning trade."  They carry items from buttons, to threads and flosses, to model forms, to display racks.  Toll Free Nationwide:1-800-543-0355 – Catalogue: free – Hours: M-F 8:30-5:00 (EST)  Mary

A.  If I were in that situation I would shop the thrift shops and fine a bra that is not worn out and buy it. I would then take the underwire out and insert it in my own bra. Hope you find this helpful.  Clara

Singing FAQ Answered

by Brett Manning

Singing Success Vocal Course for At-Home Study

Aren’t voice lessons like pulling teeth? Every lesson I’ve had was a miserable experience where I was criticized for every little "wrong" thing I did.

Answer:  You are so right. Unfortunately, most voice teachers are still training their students to look and sound like classical singers, using techniques that have nothing to do with developing a contemporary sound.  That’s why students who don’t enjoy older styles of music often find voice lessons frustrating and fruitless.  Brett Manning will never stifle your unique sound and style.  In fact, the Singing Success Program provides tools and techniques that will allow you to sing with more style.  Besides, who wants to listen to someone who sounds like every other "proper" singer?

Can I improve my tone quality?

Answer:   Tone quality improves when the correct musculature is engaged in the singing process. Feel underneath your chin with your forefinger and slide it inwards to the point where your neck meets the muscles under your chin.  Now swallow.  Notice how your larynx (Adam’s apple) raises up and the muscles under your chin tighten up as you swallow?  These muscles that are engaged in the swallowing process are opposed to those engaged in the singing process.  The use of these muscles while singing creates a myriad of problems that can take years to correct if left unchecked.  For good tone quality, you must learn to sing without the outer muscles of the larynx.  Doing so will set free your natural voice, drastically improving tone quality and ease of use.  Naturally, the Singing Success Program contains techniques that will help you do this.

Is it really possible to teach style?

Answer:   Until now, there really has not been a comprehensive system of teaching vocal style.  There have been scales played to reflect certain genres, such as the Blues Scale, but that’s really not enough.  Brett Manning worked with hundreds of brilliant vocal stylists to co-develop training techniques based on their various skills.  Using these techniques you can develop style skills so prolific that you’ll be able to reinterpret any song you wish into a unique masterpiece.  Think of it this way: As a singer, you are the artist and the final "painting" is up to you.  Brett Manning’s style training just gives you more colors to work with.

What’s the proper way to clear my throat?

Answer:   Some say that you should never clear your throat, but excess mucous inhibits free vocal cord coordination.  The trick is to find a way to clear your throat without irritating it.  Do a gentle "whispered cough" (without tone) and then swallow.  Repeat.  If this doesn’t work, you need to deal with the excess mucous production.  Squeeze a 1/4 of a lemon in a tall glass of water and sip over about 20 minutes. This should cut through a lot of the excess mucous. Furthermore, watch your dairy intake… especially cheese.  You should never eat it on the day of a performance!

Are falsetto and head voice the same thing?

Answer:   No.  Falsetto is the lightest vocal production made by the human voice.  It is limited in strength, dynamics and tonal variation.  Usually, there is a considerable ‘jump,’ ‘break’ or ‘disconnect’ between your chest (speaking) voice and your falsetto.  

Noted vocal coach and voice therapist Randy Buescher of Chicago defines falsetto as:  "a coordination where the outer layer of the vocal cord (mucosa, i.e. internal skin or muscular covering) is vibrating, creating sound, but without engaging the actual musculature of the cord.  Also, there exists no medial compression.  In other words, during the vibratory cycle, the cords never fully approximate.  

In head voice, the cords approximate, but the vibration of the cord moves away from the full depth of the vocal cord (chest voice) to a pattern that involves less and less depth of vocal cord as you ascend toward the top of your range.  The highest notes of your range involve only the vocal ligament.  However, there is no consensus among experts on the official definition of vocal registers."

So how about you?…

Check out Brett Manning’s Singing Success course.

Microwave Liner Peeling

Q. A few years ago, my husband bought me a microwave with a turntable.  For the past few months the lining on the bottom of the microwave has been flaking off in the area where the wheels on the turntable are.  Can that be repaired? Can we use the porcelain stuff you paint on appliances?  Charlotte

• I had the same thing happen to my Tappan microwave about 2 years ago. I contacted the manufacturer and they told me it was dangerous to use and/or try to repair it. The requested the serial number and the amount paid for it when new and sent me a refund check. You should check with the manufacturer before attempting any type of repair job.   JMD

• This happened to ours shortly after the end of the three year warranty;  I contacted the manufacturer and they gave me back 70% of the original purchase price.  They felt that the average life of a microwave oven was 10 years, and that we had used ours for three years. We did not have to send the oven back, just a copy of the receipt and the metal sticker from the back of the oven that contained the model number and serial number   Becky

• If the bottom of your Microwave is wearing off you do not need to do anything other than contact the manufacturer. Most all have toll free numbers. They are the best ones to give you advice related to your appliance. Martha

Learning to Sew

Q. I have been a faithful reader for some time now, and almost always find something in your newsletters that helps me save money.  As a young single person, on a severely limited budget, I was intrigued by the letter from the "single dad" who altered his daughter’s clothes for her.  I own a sewing machine, but it pretty much collects dust, as I haven’t got much savvy where they are concerned.  I don’t know why when I try to sew a straight line, the bottom comes out with tons of thread, how best to make alterations for myself, etc….  I bought the machine new, only a few months ago, so it is not the fault of the machine.  I must be doing things wrong.  Do you or any of your readers know of a way in which I can teach myself to sew?  Are there any great books I can check out of the library?   Any great websites?? The reason for this is that I tend to buy almost all my clothing at thrift stores, (which are a great deal, BTW, I have some wonderful designer clothing in my closet that typically costs me less than $5 apiece.) However, it’s not like going out any finding the perfect item in just your size, so learning to make alterations would help me greatly.  Any help you and your readers could give would be wonderful.  (P.S. – I don’t have the money to sign up for a sewing class, so that’s out of the question.)

A.  Usually when you purchase a new sewing machine lessons are offered free. If not in your case, then call around for low priced classes. Check out the high school home ec teachers or local community education classes. And if they cant help they may know someone that can. You can also ask family members or friends that sew to show you some pointers. If all that fails then go to the library they have a wealth of information on learning to sew etc. And a library card is free. Good Luck!  Carol

A.  A few years ago I wanted to learn to sew and now, after having the machine cleaned and listening to a few instructions from the man who cleaned it, I’ve sewn for my children, home and created gifts for family and friends.  The PBS program Sewing with Nancy is the answer!  Her website, sewing advisors, rental video program and books helped me acquire the skills (along with practice!) I had wanted since childhood!

A.  The "lots of thread on the bottom" is due to incorrect tension settings.   I suggest asking any friend with a sewing machine how to adjust top and bottom tensions, check at a material shop for somebody who would be interested in helping you, or just experiment until you find the right balance of tensions yourself. Good luck! This is probably the single most frustrating part of using a sewing machine. Once you get past this, you will love having and using it. ;-)    Ann

A.  There are a couple of things I can think of why you are getting gobs of thread on the bottom side….(isn’t that annoying?!?!)   Is the machine threaded correctly?   Mainly check if the thread is going through the upper tension; sometimes it looks right at a glance, but the thread didn’t go in the right slot.   Check the bobbin.   When you put the bobbin in the bobbin and pull the thread a little – the bobbin should rotate counterclockwise – if not, flip it over and try again.    Does  the foot feed have tension (or are you in ‘free wheelin’ mode)?  I keep mine somewhere in the middle.     Next, when you start a seam, hold onto both threads at the beginning just for a few stitches – this keeps the threads from getting back into the machine and tangling up.   The next thing I’d look at is the tension.   I keep mine set about 2.5 to 3, but sometimes the fabric needs something different.    Also, check the manual – mine has a ‘trouble shooter’s guide’ in the back.   When I bought my machine, the store clerk was extremely helpful.   Maybe you could go back to the store and ask a few questions – I’m sure they won’t mind, especially since the machine is only a few months old.    My store (Sears) offered a free sewing class with the purchase of a machine.   They didn’t hold them all the time, but had a list – offered the class when they had a few people.  The class wasn’t so much a class of how to sew, but it was how to use the machine….  a few tricks of the trade as it were. –Lorraine

A.  One of her problems, the bunched thread on the bottom, can be solved by simply reading the owners manual that came with her new machine. She needs to learn to adjust tension or simply to thread it correctly.

A.  The reason for the gobs of thread on the bottom is that the tension needs to be adjusted.  If you have a neighbor who sews, ask for help in  adjusting it.  It is too easy to over-adjust.  Don’t rule out sewing classes.  My best class was an adult education class at a local high school, and the price was miniscule.

A.  I would like to congratulate your reader with the question of sewing on taking the time to learn. There are many ways to learn. First, with the problem with your machine – try cleaning your bobbin holder, take the entire thing out and use a small "paintbrush" type brush  to clean it out. I had the same trouble with my newer machine and it stops giving so much thread once it is clean. I must add the older machines didn’t seem to "jam " as much. If you continue to have problems call the 800 number that comes with the paperwork for your machine and tell them you need technical assistance. Most companies have a hotline that will help you.  Second, how to learn. Look for the Better Homes and Garden’s Beginner’s Guide to Sewing, I have the older version, but I am sure the library will have one. If that isn’t satisfactory, look at your family and friends, neighbors any older female (or male ) with sewing ability. Most would be flattered if you asked for a few beginner "lessons". If you have to just spread the word with everyone that you know that you are looking for any help  you can get. Last, rethink your idea of not being able to afford lessons. If in the long run it enables you to save the majority of your clothing, it may save you money in the long run, you may just have to save up for a while. Look at local extension offices, colleges, etc. to see if they have any classes that are reasonable. As a last resort put up postings ( at places or in papers you feel safe with )that say you are on a limited budget but would like to learn how to sew.

A.  Getting all the threads  on the bottom is the machine–not you.  If you bought the machine new from a store, go back to the store and there should be someone there to help teach you "how to use" the machine….setting tension, threading the bobbin (the threads on the bottom is probably due to the bobbin being threaded wrong-or bobbin placed in the machine incorrectly).

A.  It sounds like her problem might be with the "tension setting". The manual with the new machine could be of some help, and I’m sure there are library books to help.  Also, how about friends and family. In some places, you can take Adult Education courses at night through the Dept. of Education for a very nominal fee.  Finally, I went to  "", and typed "sewing", and the first one that came up looks great and has free lessons online.  It is ""

A.  So glad to hear someone else shops at thrift shops.  Bargains along with good name brands.  As for alterations and instructions, I suggest you find someone that likes to sew and would barter with you.  Such as, make a few cookies or bake a cake, have your clothes that need to be altered ready.  In other words, seams opened, etc.  By spending an afternoon or evening together, you could get some real good pointers and help.  This way you would not feel like it was all for free.  Most people that sew are willing to share tips.  Good luck!  Mary

A.  You might want to check the setting on your bobbin control, or the size control of your stitches.  Not knowing the make of the machine makes it difficult to suggest a solution.  But if you check these settings, you might find your problem.  As for a "good book", you could ask the librarian at the local library, bit I would try to find one by one of the pattern companies.  They usually have more info on altering patterns that would work for you.   When I was little my mom used to alter clothes that were handed down, here’s what she would do.  1. first we had to put the clothes on inside out, then she would use straight pins and pin up the seams first, then she would pin in the darts.  2. after we removed the clothes she would sew along her pins.  As she sewed each set of alterations, she would have us try on the clothes before she would sew the darts.  This insured a correct alteration (sometimes when you sew a seam it changes the darts).  Good luck with your quest.  It can be fun as long as you don’t get frustrated.  Remember all mistakes can be fixed, if you don’t cut first! Sincerely, –Myra

A.  I’m the single Dad she refers to in her note.  I can’t really sew either, but I find I can keep clothes in good repair. If she wants a sewing course, she can probably contact a nearby fabric store and they can probably refer her to someone. Or, perhaps a nearby community college. If she did indeed buy the machine new, sometimes the store where she bought it may offer FREE lessons! It’s worth a call to them to see. The reason the thread on her sewing machine is bunching up on the bottom is that she has it threaded wrong! She should read the Instruction Manual carefully as she threads the machine. Usually it is the top thread that is threaded incorrectly. Also, if she has turned the adjustment knob for the thread tension, she may have set it incorrectly. Depending on the make of the machine, it usually sets on 2, 3, 4 or 5. On most straight stitch machines the thread is run through the left side of the needle and out the right side. If it is a zig-zag machine, most needles are threaded from the front to the back. Oh yes, the needle itself must be installed correctly. On my machine there is a flat place on the shank of the needle which MUST go against the shaft of the needle holder. This will ensure that the needle is correctly attached. Doing it the wrong way will produce poor stitching. Also, the bobbin underneath MUST be seated correctly. The small lever latch on the bobbin case must "click" to be well attached or it will wobble and allow the thread to build up in wads under the plate. Hope this has been of help. –Bill R.

A.  I have been sewing for approximately 35 years, six of them in a sewing factory that manufactures clothing. I have worked with a variety of people and experiences and believe it or not, just about everyone can learn how to sew.   On the subject of sewing a straight line and getting a lot of thread on the bottom could be the fault of the machine and not you. It could mean that your tension is not set correctly. The tension of the thread is not always set right before it is sold. Was the machine bought from a sewing store with someone who could have adjusted it properly, or was it just purchased??   My 19 year old daughter gets very frustrated when she tries to sew a straight line also, but last Christmas she wanted to make little gift bags for friends for gifts and wanted to sew them. She did accomplish it, with some help from me, and did quite well indeed.   One of the best practices you can do is just cutting some pieces of material the same size and sewing two of them together. They don’t have to be very big pieces to start with. The important thing here is to make sure that the settings on your machine are correct and that it is threaded correctly . That alone can cause you a lot of problems.   You have to start with small items to get a feel for the machine and to not be afraid of it.   When it comes to alterations, you will need more experience in plain sewing before you can accomplish that task.   Also there are several sewing books at the library. They vary in content depending on what you are capable of sewing. At least there you can look over the book(s) to see if it is really going to help you before you check it out and then you aren’t out any money. There are sewing magazines also that can help you later once you get comfortable with the machine and how it is threaded and have some plain straight sewing experience.   Check over your sewing machine book that came with it also. It can tell you basically what you need to know about threading and tension settings.  

A.  I used to manage a fabric store so I heard of a lot of great resources.   First try your high school or community center. They may offer a sewing class at a very reasonable price. The instructor can help you learn to size a pattern to your shape and or give you some simple instruction on your machine.   There is a great book call Simplicities, Simply the best sewing book. It is not too technical. It reads as if you know nothing.   Also, look at the library. I found several basic sewing books.   Your thread problem sounds as if you bobbin tension is too loose or you are using incorrect thread for your machine, pull out the manual and browse through and try the simple suggestions.   You might want to take a sewing class offered in your area, ask at the fabric store. I took one there for about seven dollars a lesson and it was well worth it!   There are many sites, do a search for sewing-you’ll be surprised.   Happy Sewing, Jill B.

A.  Try the website .  It is part of and you can get free newsletters too. They have a wide range of projects from beginner to expert and discussion boards too.  Good luck. –DEB

A.  The tension is wrong, needle stich length and bobbin need to be the correct tension for the fabric . The best thing to do is read the owner’s manual that came with your machine. Also, go back to the store where you purchased your machine, and ask the person who sold it to you about adjustments. Sewing machines are like cars, they do pretty much the same thing, but each model has a few particular features that distinguish it from other models and other brands. The owners manual should answer most of your questions.

A.  There are a lot of great sewing books out there. Check your library, there’s probably some basic and beginner sewing books there, as well as ones specifically on alterations. If you have any friends who sew, most are happy to give advice or a few lessons. Search the web for help too–one site I like that has free patterns as well as sewing machine info. is

A.  The person who was having a problem with tons of thread on the bottom of her stitching, she  could have a problem with her bobbin.  I had a machine that would sew a piece and then all of a sudden, I had the same problem with masses of thread on the bottom.  I would suggest she contact the one who sold her the machine.  The bobbin may need adjusting. I would suggest they get a very simple pattern to start with such as a skirt – the planner the better.  You could at one time purchase books that would explain how to sew.  Check the Internet also.  There may be something out there to help her. –Sarah

A.  Usually the store you bought the machine (Of course the last time I did this was many years ago) at will give you some basic training.  Go back with your receipt and ask them for some simple classes.  It can’t hurt to ask.  You could see if there is an older neighbor in the area who sews.  If so then barter for sewing lessons.  Offer to mow the lawn, do house work take her to the grocery store once a week. or whatever in exchange for lessons.  Or go to a sewing store (Like JoAnns) and see if they offer "free" classes.  Sometimes they do because you will probably buy sewing supplies there.

Lately, whenever we run a load of clothes in the washing machine on the cold setting, the water just trickles into the machine.  The cold water flow from all of the other faucets is normal.  My husband has tried to clear the line into the washing machine, but cannot find any debris.  Does anyone out there have any ideas on what is wrong and how we can fix it ourselves?  Thanks!

We had the same problem and this is what we do every few months now.  Turn the water off and disconnect the hose from the washing machine.  Inside the hose connection at the washing machine are small screens.  they need to be pulled out with a pick or tweezers (be careful not to damage them) and cleaned.   Sediment and water deposits settle there and prevent the flow of the water.  Hope this works for you! –Isabelle

There are some little screens in the ends of your hoses that may be clogged. –Judy

Have you tried checking the water filter trap screens on the back of the machine where the hoses are connected? Sometimes they get clogged with hard water deposits.  –Jay

We just had this problem.  It was a part called the water inlet valve, where the hoses connect to the washing machine.  It was a $15-20 part.  Write down the model # of your washer and go to an appliance parts store. 

Mine did this also.  I pulled the hose off of the washer, the cold water hose, and removed the screen that goes into the washer.  It didn’t look that dirty, but cleaned it anyway.  That fixed it.

Behind our machine, right where the hose meets the washing machine line, there is a filter.  It’s a tiny wire filter, but my dh takes it out whenever I think the water flow is slowing down, and I clean it.  He puts it back in and it’s as good as new.  Other than that, I don’t know what to tell you.  Hope it helps!! ~Jonna~

This happened to me a few years ago. First, we checked the screen at the end of the hose, to make sure it wasn’t clogged. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a switch in the machine, which regulates the incoming hot and cod water. The switch cost $25 (4 years ago)
+ labor for a total of $80. Hopefully, your husband is handy and can replace the switch himself. (Mine was working out of town at the time…) L. Rehrig

How To Remove Old Wall Paper

Q. I searched for and couldn’t find any issues on good ways to remove wall paper. I have a room that has 30 years of old wallpaper on it, any ideas??? It is stuck! – Christina

A. This is for the person with the old wallpaper. Mix a solution of fabric softener and hot water 1/2 and 1/2 and put in a spray bottle. Spray the walls and start peeling. You can soak a rag and rub the wallpapered walls as well but the spray bottle is less messy. My wall paper was 20 years old and came off like a charm. Just clean the wall after with TSP (TSP is just the name of the product. I guess it is only available in Canada. It is a all purpose heavy duty cleaner in a granule form. It removes wax, grease, wallpaper residue, cleans concrete etc. I don’t know what an equivalent would be that you could purchase in the US.) to remove the glue residue. – Monica

A. I saw this on "Trading Spaces"…you wet down the wall with a sponge, then with a scraper you take off the paper, for the STUCK on paper use the steam setting on the iron to lift it up then continue scraping. good luck – BB

A. Hi, Christina wanted to know about removing 30-year-old wallpaper, and said it was really stuck on. If it is really stuck on, then she doesn’t have to remove it to paint. There are excellent primers available to paint over the wallpaper with, as long as there are no loose seams. Put on the primer, put on the paint, save yourself a lot of hassle. I learned the hard way in my 100-year-old house. Sometimes you don’t want to know what’s behind the wallpaper! While painting is the cheapest way to change the look of a room, try to buy the best paint you can afford. It does make a difference. Hope this helps, – Cathy

A. I have removed a LOT of different types of wallpaper, and have found this to be the absolute easiest method. Get a good quality, large capacity squirt bottle (you’ll use it a lot, so spend an extra dollar on this). Starting at a corner or intersection, squirt about 5 square feet, all over the top of the wallpaper (even metallics and vinyl). Let set for about 15 minutes, then repeat, expanding the area you squirt. Now, with a large putty knife (I like to work with a 3" blade and a 1" blade) hold it next to the wall and gently lift up a corner of the paper. Using fingers, gently pull a large strip off. Continue as you are able, spraying in advance. Once you get started, it comes off very quickly. Use the scrapers to remove little patches of paper. Finally, wipe down the wall with a rough (like terry) cloth to remove extra wall paper paste. As a reminder, wall paper paste usually has pesticides in it, so be sure to wash your hands when finished or use gloves. – Valerie

A. We had a 100 yr. old home with the same problem. There was layer after layer of wallpaper. We tried solvents and rented steamers, and finally, the best method was getting a spray bottle full of warm water, and a putty knife. (alot less expensive also) You spray a spot, letting it sit a couple mins. then spray again and start scraping it while wet. It is a very long process but you will be happy you did when it is finished. You will want to get a big trash can and cover your floor w/ plastic. If you happen to get knocks in the plaster from all the scraping, apply spackle and sand smooth before painting. We invited some people over in one room and made a party of it. Everyone went to different corners and went at it. It was messy and fun!

A. I have had luck with a combination of a wallpaper steamer and a mixture of fabric softener and water. In a spray bottle, put a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part fabric softener. Score scoring the wallpaper, pull as much of it off as you can, then in small sections, spray the softener solution & steam the wall. Use a scraper to gently scrape up the wallpaper & adhesive. You have to be careful not to tear the drywall. If you are painting & want a textured wall, I highly recommend the spray-on texture you can find in the paint section of most home improvement stores. Good luck!! Theresa in Spring, TX

A. Hi Cristina, Home Depot has a great information page about different ways to remove wall paper (wall paper steamer, liquid removers, etc.) The page helps you assess which way might work best for your wall paper, and they even rent wall steamers out if you decide that’s what you want to do. Just visit their website at – Good luck! -Rebecca

A. When I redecorated our house, I would use a Paper Tiger (available in Walmart crafts section) and ran that over the wallpaper to score it (create holes). Then, I just sponged on warm soapy (dish soap) water. I tried some of the chemical strippers and wasn’t happy at all. I had much better luck just using a pan of warm dishwater. I would thoroughly soak the wallpaper and let it sit for a couple of minutes and then just scrape off with a putty knife. It was a mess, but it worked. – Beth Casey

A. In answer to the 30 years of wall paper build up. We had the same issue when we remodeled. I had tried the routine water and vinegar and even bought some mixture that you add to water and all it did was make my arms sore and the paper came off in tiny little bits. Our solution was to rent a wall paper steamer from our local hardware store. The charge was $5 a day. It’s a electrical unit that you fill with water and wait until it gets hot. The steamer part is about the size of a piece of paper. There is a hose from the steam tank to this flat plastic part. Hold it on the wall for about a minute or less and use a large putty knife to scrape the paper off. For us it took of 8 of our twelve layers at once. It was amazing and it did the job. Just remember to lay down lots of newspaper before you work to wick up excess moisture and, of course, the wet paper mess. No chemicals used, it was great.

A. I have tried two methods…….. If there is just one layer of wallpaper…….buy a scoring tool and DIF ,follow instructions . I had to apply it twice. first application removed the top layer……second removed the backing. I didn’t wait any time as they suggested because it seemed to dry out. Now in my kitchen where there were multiple layers, I first tried the DIF but I ended up getting a Steamer to finally get it off. Perhaps there is someplace that you can rent one. I bought a refurbished one from an online site. Hope this helps, Kaye

T-Shirt Pillows

Simply turn the shirt inside out and stitch the front of the neck opening to the back opening. Do the same for the arms. Then stitch along the hem of the shirt, but leave a small opening so you can stuff it. Turn it inside out again so that the shirt is the correct way, then stuff. Use either a store bought stuffing such as Kapok, which is used to stuff soft toys, or the insides of an old unused cushion(pillow), or be truly frugal and use old clean pantyhose! When sufficiently stuffed, stitch up the small opening on the hem line and, hey presto! one cool little cushion! — Pippa from New Zealand

I usually recycle an old throw pillow for a new one. I’ll turn the shirt inside out and center the pillow form on it, making sure that the logo is centered completely. Then cut out around it, adding extra for a seam allowance. Stitch around the seam, leaving enough to stuff the old pillow into it, and slipstitch that closed. I’ve also used old pantyhose for pillow stuffing. Same idea as above, just cutting out around the logo of the shirt and stuffing the hose into it. Of course, nowadays it would take me years to save enough hose to fill it as I no longer wear them on a daily basis. — Susan

To make pillows from t-shirts, turn shirt inside out. Sew neck and arm openings closed. Sew bottom and leave about a 4 inch opening. Turn right side out. Stuff with fiberfill. Stitch opening closed. — Jean

Just cut the shirt using the back of the jersey as well to make two even squares or rectangles (what ever shape that will show off the jersey best). Turn the pieces back to back (design will be facing each other on the inside), sew three edges together, turn the shirt pillow right side out, then stuff. After pillow is stuffed, sew the remaining side closed. You can use easy stitches. I have done this before and it is very easy. I am not much of a sewer. This is a great frugal idea. Your recycling those old jerseys. — Lisa P.

Salvaging Old Towels

Q. I have towels which are still useful but the edge (hem?) is getting ratty. I am a marginal sewer … how can I salvage these towels? Margie

A.  Here is an easy way to fix those towels.  Using your sewing machine, sew a running stitch parallel to the hem – now sew another just above or below the first one.  Fringe the ratty edge and voila! you have fringed towels.  The running stitch will keep the fringe from taking over the towel.  When the fringe gets ratty, just cut and repeat – the towel will get smaller, but by the time it’s too small to use, it’s ready for the rag bag anyway!

A.  I have worked from home as a professional seamstress for many years. I laughed when I read your problem.  After 27 years of marriage WE also are having the same problem.  I have 4 solutions for you – EACH can be easily done with very limited sewing knowledge.   1 – If the towels are in excellent shape except for the fraying. Cut them into squares – round the corners – sew into FREE washcloths.  A serer really should be used to do the edges – however you could experiment with a close zigzag stitch – or put a contrasting BIAS (store bought or home made) around the edges for a decorator look.   2 – This idea is also for GOOD towels.  Make personalized patchwork LARGE towels. Cut into squares or rectangles.  Sew into individual rows (best done with serger – but could also do a good zig-zag stitch) – then sew the rows together.  Need to serge of zig-zag the whole outside edge as well. Color co-ordinate one for each of your children – they use the SAME towel for a week of showers/baths – YOU SAVE BIG on washing. They need to hang towel up after each use.   3 – We use homemade cleaners.  For cleaning bathrooms, etc. I’ve cut old towels into rag squares (rectangles).  I haven’t finished the edges (just left them raw – one COULD serge or zig-zag around the edges however these have been lasting VERY WELL without going to the extra effort).  For using on mirrors YOU CAN NOT use any type of fabric softener on them. (I wash the rags with towels – then remove them & hang on towel rack to dry).   4 – Make a beach/picnic blanket from them.  Cut them into desired square/rectangle shapes.  Join into rows with a serger – or a zig-zag stitch (3step zig-zag would be best).  Works really well. Wendy

A.  You can purchase some extra wide binding ( the type that is used to bind blankets) and sew it on the ragged edges. Joyce

A.  When my towels start to get bad or in most cases are bad, I make them into washcloths. I cut the towel into smaller squares and serge around the edges. There you go new washcloths. I never buy washcloths, only towels. Without a serger, then just use a zigzag stitch. Hope this helps! Janine

A.  If you own sewing machine it is easy just get some lace or any other material you like and sew it on with a zig zag stitch this will also allow for the edge to stop fraying. Make sure and cut off the excess thread and material Co-ordinate the towels by getting some fabric and stitching strips around the tile like binding or bias tape. This will take away the fraying and give your towels a brand new look. ~Amy

A.  Trim off the loose threads and use wide bias tape( buy in fabric store). With a sewing machine sew the binding where the old hems where. You maybe can get the bias tape the same color of the towels or a contrasting color.  Sue

A.  This may sound silly, but I have 11 year old towels I still use. Sure they’re a little threadbare, and some have ratty ends. But then I don’t really get upset when I find that my 6 year old son has used them to  make a "comfortable house" for one of the toads, crickets, or other "friends" he finds around the yard. I also don’t get upset that my husband just grabs whatever’s around to wash the car. And when I hang a load of towels, I make sure I have a small pair of scissors to trim the "fringe" that’s gotten out of hand. But if it really bothers you, stitch a double seam about 1/2" in from the edge, trim the "ratty" parts, then let them become "fringed" with use. They’re not ratty – they’re "decorative" (And yes, I do have presentable towels that are put out when we have company – they’re kept up very high in the linen closet). Kim

A.  I cut up ratty towels into hand size rags for dusting and cleaning.  

A.  To spruce up towels that are fraying on the ends but the body is still good I purchase some lace that has been pregathered, you can find some with a finished edge. Trim off the frayed edges of the towels. You  can sew the lace on by hand or purchase some iron on adhesive mesh on a roll and simply fold to fit the edge of the lace and press according to manufactures instructions. And viola you have "new towels". Good Luck – Sue

A.  I use my ratty looking bath towels to make into beach or pool towels. I sew them together along the longest side, two or three, depending on how many matching ones I have. Two sewn together are great for wrapping up a shivering child, and three together are great for putting down on the sand to lie on or for drying an adult.

Here’s a link to an article that shows all kinds of cool things that can be made from used towels. So in case your towels actually get to the point where you don’t want to use them to dry off anymore, you can still get some use out of them. There are actually some pretty cool ideas – like using washcloths for Swiffer covers & using towels for pet beds.