Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween weekend sewing

Remember when I wrote about taking fabric to create a topper for your table?  Here is the result, officially debuted at card night.  We have been playing cards 5 or 6 times a year with two other couples for about five years.  Whoever hosts, sets the table, buys wine/pop/coffee and orders pizza.  One couple brings salad and the third, dessert.  No one has to cook, we get to use our nice dishes and we play cards and talk.  We have played Five Crowns over 25 times and I have won exactly zero times.  NEVER!  In spite of this, I still like these couples and enjoyed using this batik to perk up a dark blue tablecloth.

Is that it, Kathy, all the sewing news for the weekend?  Don't be silly, of course I not!  I did some more knitting on my scarf, yes one for me!  I also did a row of machine quilting on the City quilt after practicing on some side fabric.  Remember that super cute Mark Twain fabric I bought for book club?  I had 3 fat quarters that I pinked on all four sides and used on the buffet to add some interest to the array of foods.  Once the Huck Finn discussion over what am I going to do with the fabric?  Practice of course!  I was able to check the tension and practice the geometric design I want to do on the strips.  I decided to outline the black strips by stitching in the ditch and then doing two rectangles on each end of every blue strip.  I will add one rectangle at each end as I work my way down the quilt.  I feel good about the quilt's alignment on the rollers.  I think (hope!)  I have cleared up the issues I have had on the past two quilts.  It is hard to see the quilting but I like the variegated thread and took a picture of the first quilted row.

 I sewed an basting row in the orange left in the machine then I switched to the blue.

I had some tension issues but I checked with the back camera a bunch of times.  One time I had the machine pulled over too far and I saw my hand and wedding ring instead of the fabric.  It confused me momentarily. 
You can see the stitches in the dark blue above.

On the side, I think it shows up in the light blues but not the jade.

It will increase as I work down.  I will remember to increase it, yes?  Maybe I should write something down to remind myself.

I am also working on Emily's maternity blouse, the prototype.  She has her first fitting tomorrow so I am predicting I will have more progress to report then.

Have a Happy Halloween!  I hope none of your sewing is scary and that you have some leftover candy.  (Give away all the stuff you don't like first.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Enjoying it in the machine

Sigh of satisfaction!
I did it, I got that puppy on the longarm.  The back seems completely perfectly straight and on there in the exactly correct way.  Same with the front.  I ironed and clipped thread and did it all again.  What a relief to get it all pinned on and it seems just perfect.  It took a long time to get it to this point and so I want to just pause and enjoy it.  I haven't done anything wrong yet, it hasn't shifted yet, nothing has bunched up or been uncooperative.  Let's just enjoy it for a night.

Lest you think I didn't do anything wrong tonight, don't worry, I did.  I got a tunic top super cheap because the opening is awkward - too long and too open.  I knew that all it needed was a button.  So I finally got around to putting in the buttonhole and sure enough, it shifted and the buttonhole veers off to the left.  Rats!  Oh well, sewed on the button and really, who looks at a buttonhole when there is a button closed into it?

I picked up my drapery fabric for the bedroom and the new rods.  My daughter came over and let me take all her measurements for the maternity tops I am making her.  (Shhh, she hasn't said anything on Facebook yet but really, who reads this blog?)  I also have literally the fabric for 10 more quilts up in the sewing room.  I think I will find things to keep me busy this weekend plus I will start the machine quilting.

I will check back in on Halloween!  Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

That was frustrating

Bad news!  When I took the 3 two row segments and put them together, I was in a bit of a hurry.  So, (you know what's coming next, don't you?) I screwed up.  I put them together upside down and just wrong.  I had to take apart the 3 2 row segments and put them back together again.  I got two of them put back together and decided to take a little break.

I sewed together the first row of the last two row segment and I had every square going in the wrong direction.  Wow, that was really stupid and this was a bad sewing day.  I took that row all apart and spread it out on the table again and left my sewing room.  I needed a breather.

Sometimes things just don't work out and you have to go back, take a deep breath and start all over again.  Sometimes multiple times.  At least in sewing, I am guaranteed eventual success.  In other aspects of life, not true. 

I will try again tomorrow.  In the meantime, I will post a picture of a quilt I made successfully to motivate myself to carry on.

Here's a door quilt I made for back to school time.  Sometimes we learn lessons in places besides a classroom, sometimes it is in the sewing room.  Once again I learned to slow down and make less mistakes.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Productive weekend

I finished the pink scarf, hurray!  I am using the breast cancer yarn and giving it to a friend who is a survivor.  She loves all that pink stuff; I know it is a bit flamboyant but maybe at one of their walks or something?  Do you love that dress form which is showing off this latest creation?  When my Mom drug that home from an antique store, I thought she was nuts and I am sure there was much eye rolling.  Now I love it!

Is that all you did this weekend, Kathy?  Why no, I also started knitting another scarf and yes, this will be my fourth scarf of the fall!  I just love making the loosely knit scarves with multiple strands of yarn on size 15 needles. They make up so fast!  My first two scarves took 13 months to complete, hey, stop snickering, I was a novice.  Now, I like to consider myself a novice +.  I also started another dishrag, number five.  I am on fire, baby!

There couldn't possibly be more, oh yes there is!  (I made up all the hours I missed over vacation this weekend.)  I was in Crown Point for a book club and stopped by their quilt store.  It wasn't anything special but they did have great thread.  I got some for a future project and some to quilt this City Quilt. Here it is - it is that variegated thread I am currently having a love affair with.  It is actually a bit darker than the picture but the shiny wrapping makes it look lighter. When will I need it?  I am not sure but I would be so excited if it was this week.  This week?  Well, don't get your hopes up, it may be next week.

I have been working on piecing the top.  I have 4 rows pieced together but no more pictures, hey, I have to save something to talk about tomorrow.  What a great weekend, lots of sewing and plus my husband and I went to some decadently delicious restaurants and our Farmers' Market.  I think this is the end of our warm fall weather so I wanted to take advantage.  We bought a half a bushel of honey crisp apples so now all I have to do is eat one a day and it will keep the doctor away.

Now that is a productive weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Caution to the wind or in the wind?

I had to stand on a chair to take this!
Since a picture is worth 1,000 words you can see that I have finished 8 colors and have 4 colors left to go.  I had a lot of time to sew today. (And write on Yelp.  Yes, I do spend a lot of time on the computer.  No, I never use extra time to exercise more.  What's your point?)

Part of the reason I had a lot of time to sew is because we decided to postpone our play tickets and dinner reservations to next Wednesday.  WGN was predicting huge waves on Lake Shore Drive, gusty winds and lots of rain.  Our tickets were for the Lookingglass theatre which is a block off LSD and we remember that they closed it during Snowmageddon last February.  To err on the side of caution, we decided not to be downtown during unusually bad Chicago weather; we will wait until next week and just hope for regularly bad Chicago weather. 

I try to think ahead and be cautious when I sew as well.  Case in point, making this quilt.  I am using black thread and what drives me wild is to run out of bobbins while I am sewing.  I filled 5 bobbins before I began the squares and I have used up half of them.  You may be thinking that I am 3/4's through with the blocks then I am in fine shape.  Au contraire, mon amie, I will also have to stitch all the blocks together and will probably run out with one block left to go.  Before that happens, I will make more bobbins just to be on the safe side.  But not now, I have been cautious enough for one day.

I am going to go knit and watch Revenge when it comes on.  Have you watched it?  Oh, I love it for many reasons but one of them is because she is not prudent and cautious.  At all.  Ahh, guilty pleasures, how reckless!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Boo! Scary thoughts

The City quilt continues but my city life interfered with how much I wanted to sew today.  I had fantasies of getting all the squares done.  Didn't happen.  I got to knit again and do some sewing  but real life sure does take up lots of time.  I did lots of paper work, bill paying, shredding, making phone calls and follow up letters.  Not fun and even scary!

Speaking of scary (did you like the transition?)  I put my Halloween quilt on my condo door and will iron my Halloween tablecloth tomorrow.  I made this a few years ago so it is quilted by hand.  I miss hand quilting sometimes; I think a not so distant project will be something to hand quilt.  But first I have to finish the city quilt and to do that, I have to ignore the pesky details of my real life and just sew.  Isn't that why I retired?

I like being retired and getting to do what I want but there are a few things I do miss about those early parenting years.  I was frazzled and overwhelmed a lot of the time but I loved taking my girls to the pool and I loved making their Halloween costumes.  This is the time of year when the Moms with the sewing gene really feel good about themselves.  Of course Shelby decided at one point that she didn't want handmade costumes.  Natch.  Here's are some favorite costumes I made.

I am sentimental about those days; I am glad I enjoyed Halloween.  That wasn't true about every single day of raising my girls - some of it is a blur of car pools and Happy Meals.  Quilting by hand at night after they went to bed was my relaxation then as knitting is now. 

I raised them and got the paper work done, somehow!  I guess I will keep doing the paper work because leaving it for my husband to do, now that's a scary thought.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Perfection minus 1/8

This weekend I knitted in the car, I think I am really close to finishing another scarf.  It is always at this point, when I am almost done, that I have the most doubt.  "Yikes," I think, "this is pathetic!  Maybe you should just throw it out."  I am used to it, I will not pay attention, I will forge on. 

The city quilt is at the opposite stage, it's all fresh like a field where it has gently snowed for the first time.  (No, I am not trying to make it snow early this year, heck, it's just a metaphor!)  The strips are all cut out and now I can start on the blocks.  I took the first stack and sewed 4 black strips to 3 blue strips, being careful to change the end where I start the sewing to cut down on the curving of the fabric.  I still got some, even after ironing like a crazy person.  As I cut each 11" square, I evened up the strip so I would get a square that would lay nicely.  However, these squares, I discovered, are not 11" but about 1/8" shy.  I guess with all the cutting and sewing, I lost a tiny bit somewhere on each seam and so the block is a bit shy.  But, it's OK as they will all be uniformly a bit smaller as I am doing all the sewing and did all the cutting.  Times six blocks that is almost an inch I will lose on the quilt.  Again, I think I have an inch to play with or I will make a little border or a large binding.

I never strive for perfection when I sew.  I am a human being making them for people I love or myself!  The little bits of human error make it handmade not computer generated or machine made.  They were made by me, imperfect me.  And I think I am off by more than 1/8"! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tea time

Yesterday was Shelby's birthday and we celebrated it in a Korean restaurant in Champaign, our tradition is to eat at a Korean restaurant for her birthday as that is the country of her birth.  When we eat there, I always drink tea, my favorite beverage.

In the picture above you can see some of my favorite tea pots and tea cups, the stacked set on the extreme front right is from Korea, Shelby brought it to me when she visited Korea the first time.  I love it and it will be even more meaningful when she returns there in early 2012 to teach English.  I will drink tea and think about her living in the land of her birth and wait for her to return to her forever country.

Tea also reminds me of my Irish mother who always offered a cup of tea for solace no matter what the problem.  I even made a tea cup quilt because I love it so much!
This small wall quilt hangs in my sewing room and reminds me of so many favorites - blue, blue fabrics, tea and the people I have shared it with.  Let's have a cup and count our blessings.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blue and orange

I finished Shelby's college t-shirt quilt and just in time!  We go to the football game tomorrow and afterward, we will celebrate her birthday early.  The four years she was in college, we always celebrated her birthday in conjunction with the closest football game and since she is working and living in Champaign, we are continuing this tradition.

I chose blue as the small cornerstone blocks and orange borders because U of Illinois has the colors orange and blue.  Having a child graduate from college is mainly an orange experience; it's a Mission Accomplished moment of pride and happiness.  It's also a tiny bit blue - it's also sentimental and solidifies that your baby is all grown up.  The back is a tiny orange and dark orange hounds-tooth flannel.  I quilted it on my Longarm and although I had a ton of angst along the way and even ripped out an entire section, I am extremely pleased with the finished product.

Maybe I should be a little more orange about my ability to machine quilt and less blue!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Too much, too little

I got out all my blues/greens for the new quilt and did the math for what I needed to extend the quilt.  I was so excited that I had 12 different fabrics and needed 48 squares, 4 of each blue.  To strip piece it, I needed one 2" strip of each color per block, or 4 strips of each fabric.  That's 8 inches and I bought a yard of each one.  I never like to run out, I want to be sure I have enough but even for me this is really too much - that's three quarters a yard of each color left over.  Hmmm, maybe I can find another quilt to make with lots of blues and greens?  I decided to next cut out the black strips. 

Are you seeing the problem? I needed 4 strips of black per block, which means 5 strips per block and one extra strip for every three blocks.  I didn't even get the five per block done and I ran out of black fabric.  I had only bought and extra quarter yard and when I added 6 extra blocks, there went that idea - I had too much of so many fabrics but too little of a crucial one.  It was 20 minutes to 5 and I knew if I didn't get that black, there would be no sleeping.  I ran like a crazed maniac over to my local store (where I had fortunately bought the black) and it was my lucky day; they still had the fabric.  And they didn't call the police when I came panting through the door, they are quilters and they understand fabric emergencies.   I needed about 1/2 yard more but I bought two yards.  I never want to run out again!

Making this quilt reminds me of life, sometimes there is too much and sometimes too little.  When you are a working Mom there is way too little time in each 24 hours.  Flash forward to a woman in a nursing home and there is way too many hours in a day.  Some women are blessed with more children than they can support; others never get to have even one.  I possess too much body fat and other people have way too little.  Even though I am more than willing to donate some of mine, you can't always redistribute the too much and the too little.

However, you can never have too much love and no quilted item is ever too little.  Too much, too little, I guess it is all about balance.  (Hmmm.....maybe I should take the too much approach to fabric and the too little approach to desserts?)

Here's to too much fabric and too little of problems!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New plans

I have been working on the binding for the t-shirt quilt, actually loving doing the hand sewing.  In the meantime,  I want to get a quilt top done to put on the longarm and then one I can hand quilt.  This could all take a bit of time.

First the one I plan to machine quilt.  My sewing room is a 400 square foot loft above our great room.  It only has 3 walls and all of them are somewhat sloped.  When my longarm was delivered (and how we got it up to that loft is a story in itself) I lost wall space.  I moved a wardrobe, pictured above,  against the railing.  This worked great in the sewing loft - created a cozy feel to an open area and I got to keep my beloved storage.  But from below, the back wasn't all that nifty looking.

We placed the sail boat quilt to drape down the back of the wardrobe but it didn't quite cover it all so we then draped my Grandmother's snowball quilt over the railing.  I like the way it looks but I never wanted these two quilts to be used in this way, it was a "temporary" solution.  By temporary, I mean less than 10 or 20 years.  It's been over a year now and I bought a book called City Quilts when I was in Kansas City.
From this book I selected a terrific quilt and then made it my focus when I was traveling around this summer and early fall.  I picked up solid blues/greens wherever I found them, even enduring scorn from one quilt shop owner when I inquired about solids.  "You're not one of those modern quilters are you?  When you've been quilting as long as I have you'll realize solids are very dull."  Hey lady, I get it, you are just trying to sell what you have in your shop.  Just saying you don't have any would be fine.
This is the quilt I plan to make to drape over the back of my wardrobe.  Isn't it great?  Today was washing, ironing and figuring it all out day.  Plus hand sewing on the t-shirt quilt!

I am hoping that by tomorrow I have it all cut out.  I will let you know!  That's my plan!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another obsession/passion

I have previously confessed my love of cloth napkins here in the privacy of my secret blog, available only on the World Wide Web.  Today, I have another confession to make.  I am also addicted to, I mean fond of, tablecloths.  I have my dining room table as my everyday table and my former kitchen table is on risers in my sewing room.  I had pads, custom made no less, on my table.  You can't wreck the table nor just have the pad showing, what is the answer?  You guessed it, table cloths.

I have them arranged by color in a stand alone cupboard I bought just for this purpose; although I think it was designed as a jelly cupboard.  (Now that's silly, who has that much jelly?)  Some I have made and some I have bought.  Lately I have branched out - you can use most anything to perk up a table.

Anything?  Well, lots of fabric anythings.  We were downtown and I saw a restaurant with white table cloths  on every table with a smooth serape type covering placed on top of the white table cloth.  Each glass held a brightly colored napkin which picked up a color in the serape.  Bingo!  What an easy way to make a smashing table and I just happened to have a sarong type covering at home.  I flipped that brightly colored Hawaiian souvenir on top of a blue table cloth and fanned lime green and fuchsia napkins in the clear glasses.  (This is all leading to today's sewing by the way, just hang on.)

What else can I use?  How about just hemming fabulous pieces of fabric and using them on top of tablecloths?  I got a dark blue and green piece of batik with bright explosions of orange, burgundy and gold and today I hemmed the two cut ends.  I have orange napkins and will use them all when our rotating card group meets here the last Saturday in October.  I can then keep it as a table covering or cut off the two hemmed ends and use it as fabric.  To quote Hermoine, Brilliant!

The thread I used to hem was the same variegated Sulky orange I used to fill the bobbins on the t-shirt quilt.  I am using it to sew the bindings on by machine and to secure the edges by hand.  I am sewing that on a few minutes here and there, hoping to add up to a total of more than 4 hours today.  Yes, I do remember that I owe 12 hours from last week; now only 10 after yesterday's marathon session.  And no, I don't think I need professional help, why do you ask?

See what fun a passion for sewing is?  It can extend to napkins and table cloths and we haven't even discussed table runners yet!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Back in balance

I love vacations, I love going away and I love traveling.  That being said, I also love being home.  I have been out and about for the past 3 weeks - three short trips, all of them fabulous.  Before you go, you have to do laundry, arrange for mail and newspaper plus pack.  When you return, there is mail and bills to deal with plus lots of laundry.  There is a new wrinkle in my post trip catching up process - catching up digitally.  I write Yelp reviews for the places I visited, I update my Facebook, upload my pictures, post albums, order photo books and catch up on email. 

In order to really feel totally integrated back into my life I also have to return to the reality of cooking, cleaning up and doing some exercise.  Then I can finally return to sewing which has been getting short shrift the past three weeks.  I literally craved the sewing room and I finally got up there when everything else was all caught up.

I turned on my Longarm and quilted for about an hour, finishing the top.  I ended up with too much batting mushed up in the middle.  Sigh.  Last quilt I had blips of fabric folded up on the back and I really focused on making the back tight and straight.  It is always something!  Aren't I too old to be making dumb mistakes.  Speaking of mistakes, remember the tension problems when I first started this quilt on the Gammill.  Nope, neither did I but it came back to me.  I rolled it back to the beginning and picked out about 6 inches of quilting all the way across.  This took about 2 hours and it was pure pleasure, ha.  The only positive (just call me Pollyanna) is that the mistake was tension so it really did come out fairly easily but left needle marks. I tried to follow them when I redid the quilting which took about ten minutes.  (Yes, 2 hours to take out what I replaced with ten minutes of sewing.  Cool.)

I removed the quilt from the Longarm and trimmed it, wincing at the extra batting but which the machine had smashed down pretty nicely.  I cut the bindings and sewed on the top and bottom.  I now have that quilt in my chair where I will work on it for a night or two and then repeat with the side bindings. 

I loved my trips but I also adore having my life back in balance.  I physically was craving sewing time and I got about 6 hours of it today.  Now that's a great way to end a vacation!

Monday, October 10, 2011

I've been a bad bad girl

In the interest of complete disclosure, I did not do my four hours of sewing, knitting or quilting on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of last week.  I also did not make up the hours on the weekend.

I know, I am naughty.

When I set up this project it seemed doable - 4 hours a day, 5 days a week with federal holidays off.  But I forgot about vacation!  Everyone needs a vacation.  When my husband and I have gone away on previous weekend trips I knit in the hotel rooms and the car.  This time we flew and only drove a bit.  The driving was from LA to San Diego and quite frankly the scenery was outstanding, I didn't knit.

But I am back and although I did not put it in the bylaws, I took vacation.  I will get back to sewing and try to even make up the 12 hours I missed.  Go ahead, dock me, the vacation was worth it and I didn't even visit a quilt store!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fall, my new favorite season

When I taught, fall was my least favorite season. My leisurely summers were over and it was back to the grindstone.  Plus after fall was winter, a long tough season here in the Midwest.

Now that I am retired, I love fall!  I am positively giddy!  I live in a condo so I can just enjoy those gorgeous leaves, no raking!  I made this quilt with fabrics a dear friend gave me.  I hang it on my condo door and it's perfect before I want the pumpkins and turkeys of the fall holidays.

This quilt I machine quilted on my sewing machine, before I had my Gammill.  Tomorrow I will be home from my travels and picking out all the bad stitches I made in the t-shirt quilt so I might not be so chipper.

Fall is a new favorite but ripping out stitches will never be one!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sail away

I love my sail boat quilt.

I made in memory of my infant son Matthew who never got to come home from the hospital and wreck it.  As I  hand quilted each boat, there are 12, I tried to put sorrow and grief into each boat and have it sail away from me.  I stitched in his name and mine and it is always somewhere in the house.  Here it is draped over a storage chest for more quilts!

My girls have both requested it as their future inherited quilt so I said I would make a copy.  Each daughter volunteered her sister to get the clone.  See, all the grief has sailed away and been replaced by normal sisterly squabbling.

Isn't quilting grand?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Korean/American quilt

My youngest daughter was born in Korea and came to me via a plane when she was six months old.  Easiest delivery I ever had!

I wanted to make her a quilt to reflect her heritage as Emily had the Irish quilt.  I couldn't find a pattern with Korea in the name so I chose Starry Night and made it in Asian fabrics of red, white and blue to reflect her country of birth and adoption.  I hand quilted moons in different phases and stars to reflect her journey here and called it Through the Night Stars because of her lengthy plane ride.

She loved it as a toddler, I could tell because she jumped on it, spilled on it and threw up on it a couple of times.  It is not as bright as the picture but is still a well loved quilt.

Maybe I just wanted children to have excuses to make quilts?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Irish I had an Irish quilt for me

I am Irish not that I have ever been to Ireland but my great great Grandmother was from there.  With a name like Kathleen I enjoy being green.

To celebrate my heritage I made my daughter an Irish chain quilt in green and white.  I hand quilted it with Shamrocks in the white squares.  It is just terrific!  To this day, I have total quilt envy, I will have to make one for me!  She is now 30 and has never really done anything with the quilt, it is just fun for her to have for someday!

It is funny how Americans love to embrace their ethnicity for countries that are only vague family memories.  What the heck, it gives you more quilts to make.

Pictured below is my mother, the baby in the lap, with the center woman being the source of our Celtic pride.

Erin Go Bragh!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hazards of quilting

When you think of dangerous activities what comes to mind?  Boxing?  Bull fighting?  Race car driving?

You forgot an obvious one, quilting!

Why you ask?  I am so glad you did!  First of all, it will take all your available cash to build a decent stash.  Second driving on the highways is very dangerous and you will do lots of it while traveling to shops and shows.  And all of this is before you even begin to sew.

You will never leave the house without a mixed collection of random threads on you.  People will think you are to be avoided and suspect you of assorted nefarious deeds.  You will poke yourself with needles and pins.  Often.  Sometimes drawing blood.  Rub some fabric on it and walk it off, you're a quilter and you can handle the pain.

But sometimes you just can't handle the pain by yourself.  One late afternoon on New Year's Eve I was cutting strips before getting dressed to go downtown for dinner.  Not paying much attention, I am rotary cutting away when I slice off a healthy portion of the side and top of my left pointer finger.  I stare at it in horror, totally fearful of ruining those strips.  Then I realize I the bleeding was not stopping.  And not stopping,  I remained calm, calling out to my husband, "I am pretty sure I am going to bleed to death."  When he couldn't stop it we went to the Urgent Care in town.

Try explaining a rotary cutting accident to jaded medical personnel on December 31st.  When the nurse called out to the doctor that they had an emergency quilting accident to contend with, he sighed, closed his eyes and murmured "It's going to be a long night."   Yep, it always starts with those crazy quilters!  They stitched me up and I was home in time to change and make our NYE reservations.

How was I brave enough?  Because I am a quilter and that's how we roll.  (Or quilt?)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lessons learned and learned and learned

I think I am ready to have learned all my lessons the hard way, for real.  From now on just let me make good decisions that turn out well.  Thanks, prish.

I have the t-shirt quilt on the frame and bought special variegated orange thread on my travels. I fell in love with these threads - clearly marked machine quilting, 100% cotton.  I got two different kinds for a total of 5 spools.  This morning my husband left on a business trip early so I scampered up to the sewing room first thing.  (Fine, I creaked my way up to the sewing room.)  Hello Kathy, how can you be so silly - this is a spool of thread no way will it fit on your longarm.  Why wasn't that obvious until I was standing there looking at the two incompatible pieces.  I had already made two bobbins and had one loaded.  And now for even more fun, it was time to leave for my mammogram.  Yippee!

After that fun filled event I ran over to Joanne Fabrics.  I found a variegated orange thread on a sortof modified cone.  I bought two and kept my fingers crossed the whole way home.  Success, it fit and the bobbins still worked colorwise.  As I threaded the machine, I remembered a discussion at my long arm training about how to loop these kinds of threads a bit less so they won't break.  I felt so very clever when I did exactly that and then went on the fly to meet a friend for lunch.

Back home, I noticed that the quilt looked a little saggy.  I realized I had wound it so tight that the knits and flannel were giving a bit.  So I not only did a stitch to anchor but ran all the vertical seams with a stitch in the ditch to stabilize the quilt.  When would I get to start the creative part?  Not now, I met a friend for mani/pedis and dinner.

Finally, I got to start my meandering and meander I did until I cranked that fabric around and I got a glimpse of the back.  Somehow with the less looping, the main loopy loop on the tension had come off.  I had a sick feeling in my stomach and broke the thread as I was rethreading it.  At the exact same moment, my neighbors arrived for a condo meeting.  I was able to walk away and not break into sobs that I had not continued to check the back stitching.

At 9:00 I finally got back up there and decided to try the new threading on a test piece of fabric.  Why hadn't I done that earlier?  Why?  Oh well, I decided to plunge on and did some happy meandering.  When I get done, I will check the back again and see how much I have to pick out and redo.  I plan on reminding myself that it is just a t-shirt quilt and that I am still learning.  I will not sob.  I repeat, I will not sob.  Nobody likes a cry baby.

Enough learning already!  I want total competence on my Longarm and I want it now!  And patience!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cloth napkins - one of the many pleasures of sewing

Cloth napkins are my secret boyfriends.  I just love them and it makes being a sewer even better.

I have too many cloth napkins, I realize that.  I will be joining a 12 step program soon.  But how can you blame me when 1 yard of fabric will yield 4 18"squares, hem those babies up and done!  4 napkins from a mere yard so if you are having company 3 yards will do you even better.  No, I do not normally entertain a dozen guests at a time but you can use the extras for the bread basket, etc.  What do people do for cloth napkins who do not sew?  Yes, there is Homegoods, that is true.  Other than those two options, cloth napkins can be really expensive and you can't get exactly what you want.

When my oldest entered preschool she needed a nap mat and an art smock.  I made the art smock from a pattern, embellishing it with her hand-prints cut out in fabric and appliqued on.  (Yes, I think I was a little bit crazy also but she looked good doing those macaroni projects.)  I also took a plastic mat for a chaise lounge and made it into a nap mat by creating my own "pillow" at one end (leftover batting) and then continuing the corduroy cover down to a Velcro bottom.  It fit her perfectly, it could be washed up in a jiff and it had her name appliqued down the length of it.  When a little chum told her she wanted one just like it, Emily replied, "Well, just have your Mom make you one!"

What Emily learned in preschool is that if you sew, you can have exactly what you want and match it to whatever you want.  In her case, she didn't even have to sew it herself.  (And still doesn't!)   I have cloth napkins that match tablecloths, aprons and table runners.  They wash up easily, and my favorite part, no need to iron if you grab them quickly.  They can just be thrown in with similar colored items on laundry day and don't end up like paper napkins do, as trash in a landfill.  Plus, they really do clean your face and hands better.

They match, they help save the earth and do their job well.  See why I love cloth napkins so much?  Just another piece of better living brought to you by the sewers of this world.

You're welcome, planet!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Club - 2 hobbies combined

Sunday is book club day!  Reading is one of my other passions and I always love to combine sewing and other interests, like reading.  I have been knitting so much on the road, that flat out sewing for this event felt great.  What did I make?  I thought you'd never ask!

For book club I made a new table cloth, table runner, napkins, apron and tissue holders from the cherry fabric from Door County.  PLUS a Mark Twain apron and fabric squares to place under buffet.

Hey, that's two aprons!  Yes, it is but I figure hang up one for show and wear the other for real.  Or switch mid meal?  Or cherries for meal and Mark Twain for book club discussion?

See why I love Book Club so much?  We will be discussing Huckleberry Finn and a bit of Tom Sawyer for the enthusiasts who read both. 

Happy reading AND quilting!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Oops, I did it again!

I was on the road again this week, knitting whenever I could and, you guessed it, visiting another quilt store.  (No, the credit card has not been maxed out, yet, thanks for asking.)

This week I was in LaCrosse, WI and made a return visit to one of my absolute favorite quilt stores, Olive Juice Quilts.  What a terrific store, it just hums with positive energy.  The minute you walk in there are tons of cute new fabrics against a background of Kaffe Fassett.  And that is just the first alcove of the place.  I immediately spotted a new quilting watch - snap bracelet with ruler motif whose watch face was scissors.  I snapped that baby on my wrist and told the clerks "Please charge me for this when I check out but I have to wear it NOW!"

It got me thinking about all quilt shop owners do for us, the crazy quilters in the world.  They give employment to women who love fabrics and get to spend the day surrounded by them.  They provide a market for the textile manufacturers as well as the producers of sewing machines, chairs, buttons etc.   Think of all those jobs, the towns and people whose lives are better because someone has spent their time, energy and love to open a shop.

Besides the jobs, think of the community they create.  We can go there and get advice or maybe a shoulder to cry on.  At this shop there was a HUGE class area that is used for open sew nearly every day.  People bring snacks, fabrics and pesky problems.  They sew, they commiserate and they stitch their quilts and their lives.  Yes, they buy stuff because they are there but they also use the bathrooms, the electricity and the time of the clerks for advice. It's just a marvelous service and have you ever seen anything like it at another establishment?  Do hardware stores provide places to build birdhouses?  Grocery stores or restaurants let you cook there?  Dress shops that let you get ready for your party, telling you what looks best?

It's inspiring and makes me want to go out and hug a shop owner!  Come join me or maybe just shop at one and spend some money at a place that's not virtual, where you can touch the fabrics, interact with your peers and spread quilting love.  Hey, I can't spend all the money myself, join me in my quest!