Wednesday, November 30, 2011

DIY and more

 Today's main project was putting the top on the newly painted chest.  It was wooden with a heart on it and we had it painted a darkish olive with a dark rub over it. 
We had fabric left over from the curtains
and foam to put on the top.  To cut the foam we used an electric knife.

Then we took the top off and laid the foam on top to make sure it was the right size.

We laid the fabric right side down on the floor and placed the foam and lid on top.  At this point we also had to get down on the floor.  There was some creaking of bones and some whimpering on my part. We managed to get the fabric stapled onto the inside of the top and we managed to get up off the floor; this was the harder part.  We were thinking there might be money in creating a DIY show featuring us, the whimpering geezers!  You could make projects and get a good laugh.
Our finished bench

We love the new bench and are super glad to have a place to put my Aqua Exercise bag and tennis shoes.   Plus we missed our spot for putting on our shoes.

For those of you keeping track, we now have the new bed yet to come, the TV to put in the wall and a new wall quilt to make.  (Plus the new floors for the whole condo.)  But we are now closer!

I also had time today to start quilting on my Sweet time quilt.  I am using pink thread and my goodness, so much easier to use than the variegated thread and way less dust and lint! I am quilting circles on the brown border, boxes on the pink border and flowers on the squares.  It has been super fun to quilt so far, I can't wait to do more tomorrow.

Is that all, sewer lady?  NO!  I finished the bags.

All ten done!  Some with red rick rack, some with orange and one with green.  There are also 4 with black zippers and 6 with beige zippers.  I have mentioned before about hoarding sewing supplies, I am using up my stash!
Great sewing, quilting and DIY day.  I better quit while I am ahead and go to bed!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Failure leads to success, over and over again

I am trying to knit and sew Christmas presents.  I like to give people something I have made with my own hands, with a bit of my heart enclosed!

I got all the zippers put in, joining the doubled front top piece and the doubled front bottom piece.  I had previously cut out all the pieces so I matched up two back pieces with a piece of batting, left over from Sweet time.

I have made these little bags bunches of times but this time was different, the front was way smaller than the back. What?  How can I make such a dumb, easy mistake?

If I cut the backs to match the fronts, they were too small to put the cards I had made inside.  If I sewed the top and bottom seams and rolled the seam up to create a bigger bag than the front, the seam didn't look right.  Then I thought I could add some piping in that seam.  Took out the stitching, added the piping and....hated it.  Ripped it out again.  How about rick rack?  I have seen it lately in Quilt stores; it is back in.  At one time, I think I had the largest rick rack collection in the USA.  No, I am not bragging, I really did!  In 1982 we visited the Wright trim factory out East and I went to their factory outlet store, a true one.  This is back before smart phones and malls of fake factory outlet stores.  They had a bin of rick rack rolls that didn't have enough left on them to create a new package.  I bought nearly everything and I used a lot in the early 80's.  Did I have any left?  Why yes, I did, in various widths and colors.  I created a new prototype and it looked good.  I am now even more of a sewing hoarder then I was before, rick rack from the 80's to the rescue!  I got five done, five more to go.  (They will go faster as I won't have to create a prototype once, let alone three times, not to mention the one time I put the rick rack on the inside.)  Fun!

I also changed the top of the tree, that angel was bothering me.  I got a gold star.  Tree toppers don't seem to be that popular, I had to go to three stores and even then, I wasn't head over heels about this one. 

Now I want to knit, I have finished 4 dish rags so far, have started a 5th, and I am starting on a 4th scarf I could give, or keep!

I also want to quilt Sweet dreams, do my Christmas newsletter and my Christmas cards!  Too many fun things I want to work on.  I just hope I don't have to have failures before success like I did on the bags.  What I like is that even though things were not right, there was a way to make them right.  I love that about sewing, it's not like burning the chicken, you can still save it!

But how about if next time instead of failure leading to success, I just have success and then more success?

I know, I am crazy!  Good luck with your holiday successes!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mixed metaphor accomplishments

Oh boy, not only was my turkey stuffed but I think I was pretty stuffed also.  The best part was that for tonight's dinner, no cooking, just heating up!  Dishes but no pots and pans to clean.  
 Speaking of cooking (OK, I have had better segues) I think you need to wear an apron when you cook.  In fact, I am pretty passionate about this!  I make and give aprons whenever I can.  Therefore, for the shower present, you guessed it, I made an apron.  Remember the fabrics I showed you last week?  I used them to tie the shower presents from myself and my two daughters together.  We got soup bowls, a whisk and a ladle off her registry.  We added a soup cook book, reversible soup apron, red checked napkins, chicken soup napkins in red and the same in black to make a soupy gift!  Since the shower theme was travel, we threw in a can of French Onion soup and wrapped our presents in the colors of the French flag.  And yes, as a matter of fact, I did feel pretty clever!

The day of the shower we started decorating only to discover that the Christmas tree skirt didn't look right on the table for the new smaller tree.  When we had a regular size tree, the tree skirt lay flat underneath it but we are trying to downsize the amount of decorations every year and this year was the tree.  We have a smaller tree but a dopey looking tree skirt with those legs showing.  I decided I needed to make a cloth for the table to hide the legs.  When we were out on Saturday I bought two yards of solid red, if only I had bought three!  Lesson learned:  never trust quick math calculations in your head.  I had to piece and cut that fabric but I did finally get a covering for the table.  We put up the tree and decorated it after I got the skirt done. 

Here's our slimmed down tree.  Now I am not sure I am at all pleased with the angel, she seems too big.  I have to look for something new or make something new with better proportions.

I also wonder if I should make a brand new tree skirt which doesn't need an additional skirt underneath but that would be a project for next Christmas.

I do like the tree skirt and it was stolen once.  For real.  When we first moved in only two of us were in the condo building and only two garages were being used so some punks used to have a sortof clubhouse in another garage.  The garages are two levels with open air attic levels.  They slipped over the 10 foot walls into our garage via the rafters and stole the tree skirt and some food from my neighbor's freezer.  The police came, dusted for finger prints and one day I came home to find my tree skirt waiting for me.  Can I replace a skirt with such a storied past?

The year my daughter got married I made two more tree skirts, one for her and one for the daughter of a dear friend.  I machine pieced but hand quilted these skirts as well.  There are 6 log cabin blocks per skirt so that was 12 blocks, practically a quilt!

I like the fabrics in the newer versions a bit more, the original is from the mid 80's, these were made 3 years ago.  But did anyone like these tree skirts so much that they stole them?  I didn't think so!

Once we had celebrated Thanksgiving, feted the bride and decorated for Christmas did I just spend Sunday eating bon bons and watching TV?  No, because my husband claimed the TV for football.  I mean, no, because I got to start working on Christmas presents.
Here are the first two sets of projects I am working on, ten zip bags and then some cooking bags.  I will show them to you as I finish.  But here is something I did finish over the weekend.
Another scarf!  I am so dang proud of myself!  Who is it for?  I am not quite sure, I am making them with people in mind but loosely. 

Are you amazed and proud that this stuffed turkey was also a busy bee?  Wait, I am mixing my metaphors.  Hmm, I stuffed a turkey and myself, partied, decorated, sewed and knitted.  What is a good metaphor for that?  A fowl multi tasker?  A celebratory bird? A home economics holiday?

Nope!  Just your average quilter!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas is coming!

I worked overtime last weekend because I knew I wouldn't be sewing much today.

We are decorating for Christmas and then going to the shower.  Yes, relax, I will show you the shower presents but not until next week.  Some of the shower guests might read the blog and I don't want them getting a sneak peak!

In the meantime, here is the first of a few Christmas quilts I will post throughout the season.  It is a friendship quilt, I made four blocks a year and gave one to my friend Gina for Christmas and one for her birthday.  She did the same.  We kept a copy of our own block and over 5 years, we had enough for this Christmas Quilt.  It is funky and fun plus it reminds me of Gina.  We did a Friendship quilt with tea cups before this one and we are in the process of making a Valentine's day quilt right now.

Enjoy your decorating and your friendships.  Oh, and also that leftover Turkey!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Gobble gobble

Happy Thanksgiving from our table to yours!

Yes, I did get to reuse the runner from Halloween, it changes the look by changing the dishes and it doesn't need to cover the whole table.

Enjoy your turkey!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Batting scissors, for real?

 First things first, I know you are dying to know how my cold is.  Much better, thanks!

Now onto the quilting!

Do you see this?  My Sweet Time quilt is up on Gladys.  To get it up there you have to match the middle of the back with the middle of the canvas on the rollers and pin it like crazy on both.  Do the same for the top but only pin the lower edge, you let the top edge "float" but only for a bit, I will stitch it down.

The batting also "floats" which means it isn't pinned down.  I have a giant roll of batting which came as part of the package when I bought the Longarm.  I have used it for five other quilts, this is the sixth quilt whose batting came from this giant roll.  I imagine I will get at least ten more and then I will have to order another roll.  It is 80% cotton and 20% poly.

I don't know how you buy them or where or how much they cost but I know I can find it in a few clicks of a mouse so I am not worried about it.

As you can see it is pretty darn big.  It is rolled up doubled so I cut a piece for the shortest end of the quilt and then open up the batting and cut off the majority of the "overhang".  I save that piece for a table runner or something like that.

This batting is big and hard to cut so I have special scissors that are made just for cutting it.

Yes, this is an expensive hobby.  Shhhh, don't tell my husband.

I got these scissors from the place where I bought my Longarm for even more money.  Spend about $11,000 on  a machine and no, you are NOT done, you need even more supplies.  But you only retire from teaching once, this was a once in a lifetime purchase so I wanted to have all the nifty things I needed.

Do the special batting scissors work?  YES, they are amazing actually.  I am super glad I got them.

Besides getting the quilt on the machine, I worked on the shower presents.  When they are all done, I will show them to you.

Whether it's projects for special events or special tools for ordinary events, there is usually just one way to get the job done right.  And it normally costs more money!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Preparation and maintenance

Today was a preparation and maintenance day. My darling Gladys, the longarm,, needs to be oiled after every project so I did that today.  I like to do it at least one day before I start new quilting.

While I was fiddling around with Gladys I was glancing over at my cutting table where my newest fabrics were spread out.  I like to look at my fabrics, make friends with them and just enjoy the colors before I start.  Today, I cut everything out for the shower presents, ironed some of the projects and changed threads plus filled bobbins.  There is a lot of prep work in sewing but I like to do it all at the beginning so once I start, I can just sew like a fiend.

I wish there was some maintenance I could do on me to get rid of this dang cold!  This is a good day to snuggle under a quilt and do some knitting.  I had purchased some yarn in LaCrosse but discovered I needed another skein, yikes!  Hello Lion Yarns on the internet where I found the exact yarn I wanted plus 3 more that I didn't even know I needed.  I received them all today plus my copy of the book The Bedspread.  Good condition, by the way, is really good!  Great mail day!

With this cold I might just prepare to sleep so this achy body can get some maintenance sleep.  I am prepared to be maintained!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Endings and beginnings

 Sewing marathon weekend!  I have made upin advance any sewing time I might not fit in the Friday after Thanksgiving, our traditional decorating day plus a Bridal shower extravaganza this year.

By the time Cliff got home from the U of I game on Saturday, I had finished all the panels.  Impressed?  Wait, there's more!  I did this while I had a cold.  Please, no need to applaud.
 On Sunday we tried to avoid completing the project by driving all the way to the city to have breakfast.  Oh, it was delicious, thanks for asking.  (Yes, maybe I was pouting a bit that Adventure Fridays are over.)

About three o'clock, we started in on the replace the rods, hem the drapes, project.

We finished about 7:30, too late for me to make dinner.  (Brilliant, no? And we both like Culvers)

OK, back to the official sewing blog!
Above you will see the wide panel drapes and to the left the single panel drapes.  The new rods are up, the new drapes are hemmed and up and we are very happy with them.

We both may have had a few moments today, mistakes may have been made and some curses uttered. 

But it was all worth it.  Emily and the lady were right, longer is better.

I like them because they are still casual, like my house, but spiffier.

We have the new dressers, lamps and night stands. We still need to hang the TV on the wall, get the new bed and new dust ruffle plus, a new wall quilt.  And then, after the New Year, we are going to replace all the carpets with wooden floors.  Then the bedroom will be done but right now, new drapes are up!

 I got the second border on the Sweet time quilt and made the back.  Here the two pieces are, waiting to be put on Gladys.

I found out that my grand child will be a little girl!  Isn't that terrific?  I was hoping for that or a little boy.  I could use this quilt for her but I have two other quilts planned for her.  I still don't know.

One thing I know for sure, that pattern for little baby girl "shoes" was not a bad purchase after all!

Don't you love this pattern?

See what a great sewing weekend I had?  I finished projects and get to think about new beginnings. 

Is there a better life than that of a Quilter?  (Oh hush, you needn't mention movie star, rock star, millionaire...)

Endings and beginnings, I love them both!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ants in my pants

I am halfway through with the drapes, the two larger panels are complete except for the hems which I never do until the rods are up.  I am hoping to finish the other two by Saturday, hang the rods on Sunday and finish all the hems.  One of the reason that I think this is not as fun as it could be is that I have so many other projects that I want to work on.  What projects?  I am so glad you asked!
  • I am going to a shower next Friday, I bought some items off the registry and have some little items to sew to "pimp" up the gifts and tie the theme together.  
  • I want to work on Christmas presents, I have lots of ideas.  I never get them all done by Christmas and when I worked, I had them done by October!
  • Baby stuff!  I am going to be a Grandmother in April and this poor baby will need quilts, lots of them. 
 This made me think about Quilt story books I read my girls when they were little.  I went looking for them.  Gone!  What?  Who got rid of them?  What idiot cleared out their book cases of the Quilt books? 

OK, fine, it was probably me.

I found a few upstairs with my quilt books, but not my favorites, mainly No Dragons on My Quilt and The Bedspread.

No problem, I will just buy them again on Amazon.

Holy mortgage payment, do you have any idea how much they are asking for these books now that they ARE OUT OF PRINT?  What is this some cruel joke by the publishing business?

No Dragons was still available new in paperback or 89.00 for a used hard back.  Hmmm, I love paperbacks.  The Bedspread was only available used - good condition for 20.00 or brand new paperback for 75.00.
How good is good?
I guess we will find out.

When my nephew was just born I gave him the fabric for the Dragons quilt.  By the next year I gave him the blocks.  The year he was 2, he got to open the box with the Quilt, perfect timing really.

I think my little grandchild would love this quilt!

But it's all applique, yikes!

And first I have to make a heart quilt in yellow and grey.  I was actually hoping to make two, one hand quilted and one machine quilted. 

But first I have to finish the drapes.  And the shower gifts.  And the Christmas presents!

See now why I get ants in my pants about the drapes?  I am even staying home from the Illini game on Saturday to finish them.  (Either that or I am tired of seeing them lose, one or the other.)

I will let you know on Monday how the weekend went.  Hopefully the ants will be out of my pants...and the drapes on the wall!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Thanksgiving is a week away, it is a cooking and eating holiday, not a sewing holiday.  However, it does remind me that I have to get busy on making some presents to give to people for the next holiday, which is a sewing holiday.

I love giving presents that I have sewn to people but I really don't sew for money.  Ever.  I just had a friend of my daughter's tell me that when she had a baby she was going to have to have me make the "blanket", oh boy, she is in for a big disappointment.  I like to sew and quilt but I am not an order taker.  There is a list of people for whom I sew quilts.  There are a few ways to get on that list.
  1. Am I your Mother or did we share the same Mother?
  2. Am I married to you?
  3. Do I love you?
  4. Did I attend your wedding and you mine?  What about the weddings of our children?
  5. Do you love me?
  6. Would you be willing to donate a kidney to me?
If you answered YES to four questions, then you are on the list.

Sometimes I make quilts for other people when the spirit moves me.  I pick out the fabric and pattern and then give you a present from my heart, a piece of me.  This is a whimsical part of the equation, it allows me to explore quilting and make things that interest me and make me happy to give to you.

I am not looking for business and you saying, "Oh, I'll pay you" really doesn't motivate me.  I have so many quilts I want to make, so many projects in my sewing room, so many new ideas I want to explore and your future baby's decor is not amongst them.  Nor is your  daughter's wedding, your cousin's retirement or your step father's interest in Elvis.  (Yes, these are actual events people have wanted me to commemorate.)  If a quilter wants to quilt for money, she will let you know.

I do not.

There are other sewing related chores I do not care to do for the people who have asked.
  1. Darn your socks.
  2. Replace your buttons, zippers, tabs or snaps.
  3. Repair your rips or tears.
  4. Make anything out of your old jeans.  Nothing. from. jeans. ever.
  5. Reupholster your furniture or boat cushions.
  6. Make anything for any animal in your life.
  7. Any mending at all.
  8. Other things I cannot think of right now.
Wow, I feel better!  Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dream hobbies

The drapes and I had a fight.  One of us said a lot of bad words.  Slippery fabrics can bring out the worst in me.  I ripped it all out, don't worry, and started over again.  The drapery fabric was snippy with me for a while but she seems to have forgiven me.  We are talking now.  I've made some progress that I haven't had to rip out.  Not sure when these devils will be done!  I was feeling a bit negative but it's getting better.

Clever risers which save my back!
One big positive in all my sewing is the fact that my design/cutting/sewing table is on risers.  Aren't they so clever?  I bought them at my local quilt store and Cliff put them on my table.  What a difference those 10 inches make!  I don't have to bend over, it's just great.

I also have a super comfortable chair and great lighting.  Just when my husband thinks he's done improving my sewing room I think of something new.  He and his brother installed the extra lighting and all we had to do was buy his brother lunch.  Hmmm, I wonder how many meals it would take to get him to finish the drapes?

See my super Horn chair?  Plus my nifty spool rack?  I love them!  Cliff got to put the chair together and install the spool rack.  He didn't think I had enough wall room left for anything else but I found a spot.

I usually feel that my sewing room is my sanctuary in life but with this drapery project, it has not been as true.  The language that was coming out of there was frightful!  Especially when the drapery panels slipped out of my hands and went over the balcony.  Somebody needed their mouth washed out with soap!

When I get frustrated with the sewing, I just stop and come downstairs.  Playing around on the computer relaxes me like crazy but boy can I waste the time.

I find that knitting really relaxes me also.  I have been knitting like a fool lately and last night, I dreamed that I had finished a scarf but had misplaced it.  I was so upset it woke me up and I got out of bed to go look for it before I realized that it was all a dream.  (Or was it?)  Can you imagine if you could knit and sew in your sleep?  It would be fabulous!
I am working on three knitting projects.  The first project on the left is another easy scarf, I just can't stop making them!  The middle one only requires a bit of thinking, it's another dish rag. The purple project makes me think, count and pay attention.  I can only do so much of it in a night.

Today I got a massage and my therapist really worked on my right arm.  She got down deep into the tissues and said "What have you been doing?"  I replied, "I've been knitting like crazy, even while I sleep!"

Now if I could just find that scarf I made.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sweet Time

I finally cut out the lining fabric.  I had 13 yards of it; the sheer volume and bulk are a bit intimidating.  I am always nervous that I am going to make a mistake.  With a quilt I never worry like that, it's always small pieces you can just cut more or change the design.  But with drapes, it's huge pieces and even the lining fabric is the same price as really nice quilting fabric.  Of course I ran through all the math again before I cut into it.  I measured 81 inches and put a pin and then changed sides and did the same.  I stretched the tape measure between the two pins and marked the cutting line with more pins.  All the measuring and cutting is done, all the tabs are made, now I finally get to sew but I will be swathed in yards and yards of fabric.  I have the cut drapery fabric lying on Gladys and I have the lining fabric draped over the loft railing.  It's like a gosh darn fabric warehouse in here!
Fabric warehouse look!

The lining is super nice, we will be able to sleep the day away because I don't think a drop of light will get through.  I have been very happy with the fabric transaction, the bed painting, not so much. We may just cancel the whole painting thing and get a new one. We will have to see what happens and focus on the sewing!  And knitting!  I am still knitting every night.

I also got the pink borders on the Renaissance quilt.  ( I really don't like that name for this quilt.) I am liking the solid, it gives your eyes a place to rest!  I am going to wait a while for the final border.  I can't get it pinned on Gladys until I have the drapes off of there so I might as well take my sweet time!

Taking your sweet time.  It sure didn't work for me with the furniture painting lady.  But I like it sometimes for me when I am picking out fabrics.

So maybe I am merely being cautions and deliberative when I take my sweet time but when YOU do it, you're wasting my time?  Wait, I may have a name for the quilt, Sweet time!

I don't know the answers but I will just take my sweet time pondering the questions.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The company of women

Pattern - Rennaissance from Blue Underground Studio

I really enjoyed sewing with fellow guild members, it was the women who made it so terrific.  I have a fabulous sewing studio with super comfortable chairs, a cutting table that is on risers so it is the perfect height for me and my full sized sewing machine.  The folding chairs, irons and cutting table weren't so great for my back but the community of sewers were great for my soul.  As women will, we got to talking and to sharing our life stories.  I literally feel my life was enriched by the time I spent with these women.  AND I finished all 20 squares and stitched them together for a lap or baby quilt.  I have been wanting to make a pink and brown quilt for a long time; my friend and I are working on a friendship quilt of those colors but it is currently on hiatus.  I borrowed a few fabrics from that stash and had a whole other project box full of that color combination.  I bought some solid pink for the first border and then I have to figure out the second one.  The pattern has you do the outer border with the same fabric that is in all 20 of the focus squares and in each block.  (It's the larger floral pattern in my quilt.)  Will that make it too busy to repeat the focus fabric?

Speaking of focus, I have once again lost it on the drapes. You can tell I really prefer making anything else.  I would like to continue with this quilt or start on some shower gifts.  (Yikes, and shouldn't I be making some Christmas presents?)  I have to take a deep breath and get back to the drapes, cutting the lining fabric will be the next step.  I know I will like them once I get them done.  Making drapes just doesn't feel like being part of a community of sewers, it's just sewing for the house.

Add caption
I really like being part of a larger community; I have my knitting group and my quilt guild.  I also have three book clubs to which I belong and Adventure Fridays with my sister and daughter.  You can tell I love being in the company of women.

Emily wore the scarf I made for her this past Friday and it inspired me to finish mine.  Here it is!  I really like it, I have made 7 scarves now and 3 have been for me!  Hey, I need to keep warm in these Chicago winters.  The scarves are good for my body, the knitting is good for my creative spirit and the knitting group is good for my soul.

All my groups and clubs are communities of women whose sharing, love and caring make me happy and keep me sane.  Maybe I need a drape making community?

Fine, I will just make the darn things. 

Tomorrow...or the next day...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Quilt journals & workshops

Quilt journals - 1983 to present day
I believe I have previously confessed my near obsession with keeping a record of the quilts I have made.  Why do I do this?  Because I simply adore looking over the pictures and reading the descriptions.  It just makes me happy.  Recently I was asked how many quilts I have made.  I was about to toss off the number 100 but I had this secret vain fantasy that it was probably more.  I decided to count, enter the Quilt Journals.  I went through them.  Twice.  I even updated the current one with the city quilt.

My total?  91.  Bummer.  I really thought I had made a hundred.  28 years of quilting, 91 quilts, that's about 3 a year.  So I won't hit 100 for three more years?  But what if I pick up the pace?  Then I could hit 100 in the same year I turn 60.  Cool.  OK, now I am over my disappointment.  And I have a new goal.  9 more quilts done sometime in my 60th year.

To that end, I spent Thursday at a quilt workshop. I sewed from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm and got to use my cute little Featherweight.  I got 20 blocks done and sewn together.  I still have to put the borders on and decide if I like it.  It might be too busy.  I also don't know - exactly what I am going to do with it?  Give it as a present?  Maybe a baby quilt?  I just don't know, I even dreamed about it, trying to decide!  (Hey, doesn't everyone dream about quilts and fabric?)   Once I get the borders done,  I will be able to pin it on the Longarm.  I do have this new desire to always have a quilt on there, waiting to be quilted.

What's that you say?  How am I doing on the bedroom drapes?

Oh no, we've run out of time, have to go, can't answer that question until later.  I have to go work on my quilt journals or thread some needles or something quilty and urgent.  Ta ta!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why am I quilter?

Today was a preparation day in the ole sewing room.  I cut 5 strips for the headers on the drapes, you can see them draped in the middle of the panels.  I ironed all the tabs, they are hidden by the headers.  This was hard, the part where I had to really focus was when I cut the panels.  I cut 5 of them, each 85" long.  This required LOTS of measuring.  I would measure and then measure again.  Gladys, the lovely Longarm, is very useful for storing these huge pieces of fabric.  Tomorrow I will repeat the process for the lining.  It's not the fun stage where you get great looking product.  This is like the stage where you tape the room and drape the drop cloths to protect the floors before you paint.  It's painstaking but if you mess it up, the drapes will be dopey looking forever and I plan on having them for a very long time!

While I was working on these I mused about a question my step mom recently posed to me, why did you become a quilter?  I answered her but I have kept thinking about it and here is why I became a quilter.

If you look at this picture you see my Grandmother, Katherine,  standing in the back row.  Seated on the couch in front of her are her sisters and my great Aunts, Marie and Margie.  When I was young, I stayed with my Aunts on family trips to Alton.  They never married, always lived together and took over the Grandmother job after Katherine was killed when I was five.  Aunt Marie and Margie lived in Alton, Illinois where both of my parents were from and they were quilters.  When I stayed with them I would see them working on a quilt on a frame.  I would ask to be able to quilt but was denied.  (In the 1950's kids had rules! and boundaries!)  One visit, they sat me on the back porch and let me pick out fabrics for my own first quilt.  I picked out white and an orange calico.  They showed me how to trace a pattern and sew the pieces together by hand.  They sent me home with a shoe box and my pieces.  I stored the box under my bed and never finished it but it stayed in my head.

Flash forward to 8th grade home economics class and we were about to start the sewing unit.  My Mom did not know how to sew, her Mother and Aunts did all the sewing and the sewing machine was too expensive to fix to let my Mom learn on it.  She really wanted me to sew so she let me pick out any fabric and pattern I wanted.  I chose expensive fabric and she went for it, wow.  (She was a frugal woman so I figured this sewing must be pretty magical.)  I chose a dress with sleeves for my first project and somehow I made it and it all worked out.  My Mother practically flipped out with joy that she had a sewer in the family once more.  I had never gotten so much praise!  Compliments!  Favorable comparisons with other family members!  I was hooked.   I was immediately put to work sewing for her, her sister and my sister and if I ran into any problems, I walked around the corner where my home ec teacher lived and got private help.  That woman let me come over all that summer after 8th grade!  Once I perfected my technique,  I realized I had a huge bargaining chip with my Mom and I would drive ruthless bargains.  I would get fabric for the clothes of my dreams if I would make clothes for other people, always at a "two for me/one for someone else" ratio.  (Fine, I wasn't very nice to my Mom at that stage, I admit it!)  I sewed my way through High School, college and my first pregnancy.  As I was turning 30, I wanted something new and exciting in my life.  You are thinking, finally!  Did I pick yoga, scuba diving or sky diving?  Nope, quilting!  My Mom paid for my first quilting lessons for my 30th birthday and she died 3 weeks later.  It was her last gift to me and what a gift!

In the quilting class we made 12 blocks for a sampler quilt.  I decided I might as well make two of each.

So that summer I made 2 sampler tops, cutting each piece out after I traced it with a pattern, marking every single seam line with a pencil and stitching every piece together by hand.

No one in the class finished except for me and I finished two of them.  I then hand quilted them obsessively. 

Can I have a good time over a summer or what?  For a while those quilts were in my bedroom, then pictured here on the guest beds. 

Now those quilts hang on the walls of my sewing room.

Here is one of them!

This was a pretty long answer to a simple question.  I am a quilter because of my Aunts.  I am a quilter because my Mother gave me so much positive reinforcement when I learned to sew.  I am a quilter because it was the lasting and last gift from my Mother.  I am a quilter because, quite frankly, I can't imagine my life if I was not.  I am a quilter because I love the look, feel and smell of fabric.  I am a quilter because I love being able to see something and think, I can make that. 

I am a quilter because that's who I am!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Triple your pleasure

Breast cancer yarn dish rags
This was a grand weekend because I got to knit with my knitting trio and I finished a third dish rag.  I am trying to make lots of dish rags for Christmas presents for my family.  My original plan was to finish them all in October for breast cancer awareness month.  But, either I have procrastinated or I am perhaps trying to extend this awareness to more months.  Yes, that's my story,  I mean, yes that's what I am trying to do.  I have been knitting for a little over a year.  I have made 5 scarves so far and 5 dish rags.  If I have been able to knit at all it is because of the generosity of the women with whom I knit.  Here we are last summer, "knitting in public", scandalous! 
They know so much more about knitting than I do that I can only assume they keep me around for amusement purposes, a sort of court jester!  Today we met at Mary's house and she helped me start a  new scarf, a sampler.  Pam explained it to me v e r y   s l o w l y so I could understand.  I only panicked once, not bad!

This weekend I also got two more rows quilted on the blue city quilt.  I also finally did what I knew I would do at some point, I quilted a black rectangle.  Way to go, Kath.

Here is a picture of half of the mistake.  Don't worry, I quilted it at both ends before I gasped in horror.  Then I picked it out, one half at a time.  I took a break and did some more quilting before I did the second half.  I left the seam ripper there just to remind me.  But I got it all done and didn't even cry.  Much. 

Here is the completed row, 7 rectangles in each blue rectangle.

And 14 quilted rectangles removed from one black rectangle.

Two more rows to quilt, then the binding.

I hope I have time to do it this week.

AND work on the drapes, yes, I know.  You're kind of nag, you know?  But I like you anyway.  Courts jesters, we're like that.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hard to get started

4th row, 5 rectangles
I had a lot of trouble getting started today, it may have been those dark chocolate covered caramels I found left over from the nose bleed incident.  Or the rain?  General laziness?

I put off "working" as long as I could.  Went to Aqua Exercise, did my laps and found myself in the car.  With my cell phone!  "Hi, honey, want to go out to breakfast?"  That killed an hour.

I was nervous about the drapery fabric so I avoided it by working on the next row. Made FIVE mistakes but corrected them and faced the drapery fabric.

But first you want to know the story behind the dreaded drapery fabric, yes?  I knew it!
I took a look at our bedroom a couple of months ago and decided, nope, not going to ride into the sunset with this bedroom set.  We started off with new lamps.  Then we got one new night stand.  You know how it is, each new thing makes the existing furniture look like items left over from some cold war gulag.  We took the plunge and ordered 2 new dressers and another night stand.  It all came and, meh, we spent a lot of money but the room still doesn't look right.  I had a woman from White Street Interiors come and give me advice.  (Don't get at impressed, she didn't even charge me for the advice.  She agreed with my daughter, the drapes had to go and needed to be full length.  Plus we arranged to have the bed and a bench painted.  And when all that is done, she wants the TV mounted on the wall.  (This was the point when my husband got tears in his eyes and kissed her feet.)

I took a deep breath and ordered the fabric and the lining.  Very expensive, the most expensive fabric I have ever gotten.  Did I mention I paid a lot of money for the fabric and no, her assuring me that me doing the sewing was saving a lot of money.  It was still mucho dinero!

I picked up the bolts and put them in the sewing room.  Where they sat.

I picked up new rods.

I  made the maternity clothes.  Hmmm, those are finished.  Guess it's time to cut into that really expensive fabric.  Aack!

I rolled it out and looked at it. 

I looked at pictures of drapes on line even though I knew I was doing 2" tabs.  I looked at all the other curtains in the place. 
 Finally I cut into it.

 I cut across and had three 7 1/2" strips and then cut those into 4 1/2" pieces which I stitched up each length.

Ta da!  36 tabs I need to turn inside out.  I will do that tonight as I watch TV.  (Sorry knitting, you'll be ignored.)  Next I will cut 5 facing strips and then cut the remaining fabrics into 5 panels. 

I will work on these over the weekend and see if I make any progress.  Talk to you Monday.  Now that I am started, I feel a bit better.  I've made the decision, I can't go back.