Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I decided to quit obsessing and just do it. After the second one was safety pin-basted, I plopped the sewing machine on the kitchen table and tore into it. And you know what? It's OK. I stepped back and tried to look at it objectively, and guess what I saw? A really cute baby quilt that someone will appreciate. If anybody thinks my machine quilting could be better, they're right - but in the final analysis, so what? I'll get better at it as I go along, and this quilt will make somebody happy.
I can make myself nuts second-guessing and obsessing about whether what I have made is good enough. This has to stop.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I honestly can't remember when it started, but I think I have been sewing sans shoe for years and years. Not at first, though. My first sewing machine was a Free Westinghouse Model ALB in a cabinet with a knee lever speed control. I inherited it from my grandmother. It now resides at my Mom's house. She had one exactly like it, so now there's two. One downstairs, one upstairs, but she doesn't use either. Her workhorse machine is a White that Dad bought her for anniversary at least thirty five years ago. It sits upstairs in her sewing room, on a huge wooden partner desk from Mom and Dad's business. She also has a Singer that she bought for herself because it was small and light and easy to bring out and put away for quick jobs, that she keeps downstairs.
I used that Free Westinghouse from the time I was six or seven. It was made in the 50's and only sewed a straight stitch, but it was absolutely bulletproof. Every stitch of my clothes through high school and part of college was made on it. I bought a White machine with a zig-zag stitch after I started working, and wore it out making clothes and quilts. I'm sure the Free Westinghouse is still going strong. It was built like a tank.
The knee control was one of two things I grew to dislike about my old machine, though. That, and the fact that it was in a narrow cabinet, so when you pulled up a chair you weren't sitting in front of the needle, but in the center of the sewing machine head. That's a thing I'm a stickler for. I sit to the left of center of the machine so I am directly in front of the needle. Makes it easier to see what you're doing.
To be absolutely honest, you also have to be skinny skinny skinny to use that old sewing machine because the cabinet is so narrow. Sitting crammed in that little spot between the two front legs became, shall we say, tight?
Sunday, January 27, 2008
The birds are finding shelter wherever they can. When I walk out to the mailbox in the afternoon I provoke a flurry of brown thrushes bursting from the holly bushes in front of my house. They flit out into the trees and wait for me to go back in so that they can snuggle down on the bottom branches of the bushes out of the wind. The birds find any sheltered spot that is accessible, but most of the bushes are bare and offer scant protection. Two sparrows had even settled into the silk flower arrangement in the basket hanging on the wall outside my back door. Proximity to humans was the lesser of the two evils.
I haven't seen a chipmunk for weeks. Probably, they're all snug in a burrow somewhere (I haven't checked under the house for a while - that becomes Chipmunktown every winter, no matter how hard I try to seal up access). Only a few squirrels are out foraging; one was industriously sorting through the mulch under my oak tree yesterday, to see if he or anyone else had buried more acorns there.
All this gets me thinking about the bird feeding. I had stopped for a while during migrations season, and then the presence of two local hawks worried me. I was afraid that I would lure the poor birds into a trap. But now I feel that we must start feeding again. Berries and seeds are mostly depleted on the bushes in my yard; probably it's the same everywhere.
And, the cat and I miss them. It was always so cheerful to sit in my den every morning reading the news online and watching the activity in the dogwood trees, while my cat peered from behind the curtains and did the "fearsome-stalking-kitty" routine. I'll keep an eye out for the hawks. I wish they'd go back to Lookout Mountain or somewhere - what are they doing in a subdivision, anyway?
Saturday, January 26, 2008
I started to use spray baste, but then I remembered an unfortunate incident with some quilted shams for my bed. The spray baste bled through the top fabric and stained it. Must have sprayed too much, but I was gunshy to try it again.
Oh, well. Live and learn. I have to wash it since Queen-of-all-she-surveys wallowed it good and proper before I could shoo her off. Cats are born quilt-testers.
Friday, January 25, 2008
I liked it. I didn't feel so old when I looked in the mirror. But it's expensive to keep up (I know that many people can do the job themselves, but I'm too much of a klutz). After I retired I decided to go back to gray hair. So, my stylist and I formulated a plan to slowly go lighter and lighter brown, then start streaking in light blond, and camoflage the gray roots. Let me tell you, when you're almost completely gray on top, when the roots grow out you have a skunk stripe on your part! And, FYI, you can't just use a color stripper and take the dye out if you have really gray hair; the red in the dye is stubborn and you may get pink hair. We've done this; you have to recolor it to get rid of the pink.
We proceeded through the tints, 7N to 6N to 5N, lighter each time. I had been walking around with light brown/dark blond hair for a few months now, so I told her it was time to start the highlighting and let the roots grow out. I have to get a new driver's license picture in July and I want to look like myself in it.
Well, she highlighted. Boy, did she highlight. And then, after the addition of an ash rinse, she took the towel off my head and I about fainted. It looks gray again. Well, it looks like someone who was naturally blond with lots of gray. It's not bad. She did a masterful job. It's just a shock to the system for your looks to change that radically over a two hour appointment.
I'm not mad about it or anything; this will greatly speed up the growing out process and I won't have those "bag over the head" horrible months when you are making a drastic hair change but the hair hasn't caught up yet. It's just kind of shocking to look in the mirror.
On a more productive note, I have finished the machine quilting and binding on my first Project Linus quilt. Yay!
Monday, January 21, 2008
And, boy, have I been careful in the kitchen! The last three meals I cooked, I was so paranoid. I just have to find a happy medium. A person can't be this leery around hot stuff. Even the steam iron is making me nervous. I was pressing blocks and when the heat from the steam around the edge of the iron came near my fingertips I jerked my hand back.
At least I've finished taking the Keflex the doctor prescribed. It kills my stomach. I've had indigestion for 7 days.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Here's the quandry. I love to piece but am not fast or very good yet on machine quilting. I have several sources where I get most of my stuff quilted on a longarm machine. I would like to find someone who enjoys machine quilting, either on a longarm or a regular sewing machine, to partner with me. I can piece if she will quilt. That way, we both do what we are good at and more stuff gets made for the kids.
If anyone reads this in the Chattanooga TN area and is interested, please leave a comment and maybe we can work something out.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
OK, full disclosure time, This quilt was cut out and pieced while I had a big ol' bandage on my left palm because stupid here burned her hand while cooking dinner on Monday. Weeeeell, there are also small burns on three fingertips so add three more band-aids to the total. A skillet handle that I didn't think was still hot and I made contact. Ended up making a trip to the local doc-in-the-box and everything. It's healing well and a nuisance more than anything. It's official -- I'm a idiot.
One more thing - most of the photos for this blog are taken with a pink Fujifilm Finepix Z3 that my husband gave me for Christmas. In my mid-fifties, I'm finally discovering my inner girl.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I am profoundly grateful that my husband's health issues are stabilizing and we can see a time ahead that won't be all doctor's visits and medical concerns. I am grateful that I could afford to retire a little earlier that I had planned to help him this summer. After reading in a blog of a quilter's loved one going through a terrible illness, I am grateful that our health issues can be managed as well as they are.
I am very grateful that I still have my mom in my life. She's in her mid eighties, and going strong. We don't live near each other but we can swap ideas and chat on the phone for hours. Even if she does call right back after we'd hung up because she remembered one more thing she was going to tell me (which drives husband a little nuts).
In this age of mortgage defaults and high housing costs, I am grateful for this home, even if it IS a 60's rancher with paneling in the den! (The paneling has kind of grown on me.)
And, I am grateful for all the quilter's blogs I have discovered recently, who inspire and inform me, and make me feel a part of a network of talented, creative ladies. Quilters and bloggers, I salute you.
The local coordinator for Project Linus answered my email and provided some information about the program. I'm really excited to contribute to it. Heaven knows, I don't need another quilt myself. I have only been making gift quilts for some time now, and the people I know can't provide enough occasions to keep my habit satisfied! So now I will start making Project Linus quilts, and the first one is already halfway pieced!
I wanted to use my burgeoning stash to supply the project quilts, and I really don't have the bright, kid-y colors that you would normally think of. But I do have a lot of scraps from my Robyn Pandolph-inspired days and I pulled out a pink trellis print about 5 ft long that would be a great backing for a pink and green girly-girl quilt. I know that somewhere there's a 4 or 5 year old girl going through a pink phase that would love it. So, I found a tone on tone ivory, a bright pink, a bright green, and a floral with a pink background and roses. Twelve "Card Trick" blocks later, I will have the pink quilt of some little girl's dreams. I've got six blocks pieced already.
I will also get machine quilting practice out of this plan. Win-win, all the way around.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
But it did lead to a great family story. When I was in first grade, my teacher had a corner shelf in the classroom filled with seashells and pretty nature collections. On Parent's Day, she had the class tidying up the room for visitors. I had no sooner walked through the door that morning than Mrs. Boggs put a cloth in my hand and said, "Please dust the corner shelf and arrange the seashells." My indignant response was, "What did I do?"
She was trying to be nice since she thought I had an artistic bent and would enjoy working with the shells. She didn't understand my response until my mother told her that she used housework for a punishment, and I probably thought that I was being disciplined for no fault that I could see. They got a good laugh out of it, but I STILL HATE DUSTING!
Monday, January 14, 2008
Lavender Lime Quilt Shop, at www.lavenderlimeinspires.com/ is the biggest little shop you have ever seen. It is tucked away in a strip mall and from the outside just wouldn't seem to have room for all the great stuff they stock. If you're near East Ridge, TN stop by.
Sew Bee It, A Quilter's Garden, at www.sew-bee-it.com/ is located near Rossville, GA. It has recently changed hands, and while I haven't visited the store since the new owner took control, I used to go quite regularly and loved it. Their website has a virtual tour and the store doesn't appear to have drastically changed. They have a great selection, a varied class schedule and good classroom facilities. I think they're worth a look, too.
Me, I'm going to fight off the impulse to browse the stores for a while. If I just didn't have all those great online stores bookmarked..................
Sunday, January 13, 2008
So I started sorting. And folding, boxing, and discarding. And agonizing whether I would really use a piece of fabric or should cull it for the greater good of the storage situation. When I was finished culling, I had filled two of the extra large ziploc storage bags with the handles (not the food bags, the ones 2 ft x 3 ft). After years and years of buying fabric, I found some that may have been my taste in the 90's, but seriously wasn't now!
Now that I had a pile of fabric that I loved, wanted to use, and needed to be able to retrieve easily, I hit on the idea of the boxes on shelves. I hied myself to the Lowe's and bought shelf standards and brackets and shelf boards. The boxes came from the dollar store (cheapest source). They supplemented some I already was using. I set my sewing machine on the left (the large bag on top holds cutting boards, rulers and a large quilting hoop) and the boxes on the floor are patterns and kits. Behind them on the floor below the bottom shelf are quilt batting and home dec fabric leftovers.
So, maybe you are wondering what I did with all that discarded fabric? I found a senior center about 40 miles away which had a quilting group. I called them and made arrangement to drive up on a meeting day. Needless to say, they were agog. Those old ladies are going to be supplied with fabric for YEARS. It worked out well for everyone.
With a totally free day, I decided to haul out the sewing machine and my new Thimbleberries book and start on a new project. In those days, I was better, and didn't have a dozen things started at once. I raided my stash (now, THIS is why you have a fabric stash!) and started sewing. I completed the piecing in a day. I was helped by the fact that we had Sunday dinner leftovers to reheat for supper.
It was quilted by the local longarm quilting establishment in a small clamshell pattern. It has hung in my den for years. (And , yes, that's paneling on the wall! It's a 60's house.)
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
I am using Eleanor Burns' Through the Seasons Spring striped fabric on the backing. I had bought all that the shop had, and thought that I would have enough to sew together the backing (it involves matching a wallpaper stripe print). However, when I decided that this quilt was for my brother-in-law, I enlarged the quilt top. Now, I don't have enough for the backing. However, luck was with me. Heart of Dixie fabric shop in Alabama had more (on sale, no less!). Now I just have to wait for the order to be delivered. They're usually speedy. Hopefully, the quilt will be at the quilters by next Wednesday.
But there's no rest for the wicked. I just hauled out the fabric for my brother's quilt and started sewing!
Friday, January 4, 2008
The quilt I am currently making has 42 blocks. (See previous post for picture). Each block has an Ohio star in the middle, with differently colored points in each block. Around the star are six pieces of fabric which form sashing when the blocks are joined. I started by laying out 42 center squares, then 42 sets of points and background pieces. Then, on each pile I distributed the sashing pieces, being sure that colors and similar fabrics were not duplicated in a block or in adjoining blocks.
Nevertheless, while assembling the blocks I have to keep trading out pieces so that the same fabrics don't end up too close together in the sashing. It's exasperating. The harder I try to remove patterns in the distribution, the more they appear.
It's a little bit of chaos theory right here on my kitchen table.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
And then I saw the red fabric. Now, you have to understand that I almost never use red anywhere. Don't wear it, don't decorate with it (unless it's Christmas!) and seldom put it in quilts. But this was subtle red, with a William Morris influence to the flower print, and I realized that I really liked it and should buy some for my stash.
Let's talk about that stash. There is a five foot wide closet in the third bedroom / computer room / general-messy- projects room and it's FULL. The top two shelves in the closet are filled with completed quilts and the rest contains sorted boxes of fabric, quilt kits, tools, patterns, sewing machines, batting. Let's just say that if I never bought another scrap my hobby would be well supplied for the rest of my days.
After I decided to buy some of the red fabric, the floodgates opened. It was a large-ish print so would be better used in borders and center squares of blocks. Since I like to cut borders on the straight grain without seams if possible, and since I almost always do bed-size quilts instead of wall or lap quilts, that meant at least three yards of red print fabric. I got four yards to be safe.
But would the red have companions to mesh well together? Maybe the color scheme was so different from my usual choices that my stash didn't have coordinating fabrics. I decided that I would pick up a bunch of fat quarters that pulled out the colors in the main print.
You notice that I haven't talked about pattern yet. I didn't know. That would come later. This happens often. A fabric catches my eye and I know I will do something with it, so I get it, and sure enough a project comes to mind. I don't buy many kits and almost never copy a quilt from a magazine. My taste runs to traditional patterns and color combinations. I'm not a fabric artist. It would be wonderful to be that creative, but it's just not in me. I make bed quilts, cheery and comfortable.
So, when I return home I have the quilt-in-the-making all bagged up. I should stash it in the closet and work on another project that's already started, right? Nope. In the car on the way home I had decided to make an Ohio star with sashing built into the block (see picture). So, as soon as I got home I just HAD to cut it out. Then, I just HAD to make the first row. It's an addiction, I tell you.
But after that, our horrible summer started and we were consumed with doctor visits and outpatient procedures. It didn't really stop until after Halloween, and then there were the holidays. So, the quilt had to wait until today.
And now I have a reason to complete it. My brother-in-law is moving back east from Seattle after retirement. He might also remarry - that's not set yet. But wouldn't this make a great wedding present? Wedding or housewarming gift, it's going to his new home.
The only problem is, last month I went back to the quilt shop after delivering some toys to the Toys For Tots barrel at the shopping center. There was this beautiful burnt orange print, you see, and my brother just loves orange............