Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not quite enough

I love quilting on City Green, it is all geometric so it is easy to know what to do first.  I have stitched in the ditch horizontally for all the rows I can do before I roll the fabric. I will stitch in the ditch for all the vertical rows as well.  When I do that all over the quilt, the green squares should POP a bit.  Then I have to decide if I want to stitch in green inside each green square or do an interconnecting geometric design.  I filled two bobbins in brown and to do that, I had to empty a bobbin.  I need to buy more spare bobbins so I can keep some filled in different basic colors.  This is one of the great things about quilting, you never have to worry about what you are going to spend your money on, you just know!  I think that's a good thing, not having too much extra money.  If I had too much I would probably just get into mischief.

Apparently, it is also good to not have enough time either.  I know, I am retired but I do teach a class. 
Twice a week. 
For two hours each time. Gosh!
(If you read this to yourself using a Napoleon Dynamite tone and speaking pattern you will amuse yourself as I am at this moment!)
I did not get the aprons finished.  I did get them cut out and made the straps but I have to stitch them up.  Hey, I do know that the deal is 4 hours a day but the prep work counts!  And I knit every night.

Never too much money nor time, this is a good thing, yes?  This way I get to yearn a bit and look forward to the new projects I can work on the next day.  I am going back to Aqua Exercise tomorrow, I didn't go last week as I was being Nurse Kathy.  Lots of fun things tomorrow, swimming, a massage, a pedicure with a friend and what else?  I am just teasing, I know, I will also fit in sewing and knitting plus some reading.

Not quite enough time or money, I love it!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Too much or ideal?

City Green is on the longarm!
Gladys is all freshly oiled and ready to quilt tomorrow.  I finished the back and got it on the rollers first.  I have learned this year to trim it to be closer to the width of the quilt.  I also got the batting cut and trimmed, you can see it hanging down in the picture.  I am going to do some stitch in the ditch in brown and then see if I want to switch to green and do some geometric quilting. As it is a wall hanging, I don't have to worry about it being stiff from too much quilting.  (That's funny to think about, I never have too much quilting!)

Now I would like to make a couple of quickie projects before I start on a new quilt top.  Ideally I should have a top being pieced while I have one on the longarm being quilted.  Ideally, another funny concept - my life is not acting "ideally" lately!

Remember the heart quilt I am making as a friendship quilt with Gina?  I have TONS of heart fabric for that quilt and now we are done with the squares!  (Little sob.) 

What to do with the leftovers?  Make an apron, duh!  I love making aprons, they are so fast and such great things to own.  My daughter, Emily, is going to a wedding shower on February 11th and she asked me to make an apron for the bride.  What is more perfect than hearts?

I also found this fabric when looking through my fabulous stash.  (Do not have stash envy - go out and buy ridiculous amounts of fabric yourself!)

I had made a small project out of these fabrics and had plans for a follow up which did not occur.  What to do with the fabric?  (You know where this is going, don't you?)  Make another apron!

There is a new young family in our neighborhood and I have been meaning to go over with a welcome present.  I know, I know, most people bake something.  I am not much of a baker but I sure like to sew!  This will be a perfect welcome to the neighborhood present.

I never have too much quilting, but luckily I have too much fabric.  And while my life is not ideal, my stash is very nearly perfect.  From it I can give gifts from my heart to young women, celebrating their loves and their new homes.  And inbetween time, I can start quilting on my finally done City Green quilt.

Now that's what I call ideal!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Casts versus threads

I have a new excuse for why I didn't get a lot of sewing done today.  (I know the machine back for repairs, the snow and book club have been used.  This is a new one!)

My sweet husband Cliff broke his ankle.  When, you ask?  Why yesterday on the way into the Illini Basketball game in Champaign, Illinois.  Cliff skids, slips, falls and hears a pop immediately followed by pain.  Does he then have my son in law, Joe, take him home or for medical attention? Oh, no, they go in and watch the game as Cliff's ankle swells...and swells.  He could barely get up the stairs by the time they got home.  He was convinced it was just a sprain so ice and advil for our Basketball fan. 

He went to the doctor today who took an x-ray and sent him to the Orthopedic guy where I met him after teaching and snapped this picture of my guy complete with cast and crutches.

Cliff is relieved he'll be good by golf season but I didn't get much sewing done today. So let's talk thread!

This rack is behind my machine and on it I keep the colors I used the most that are all cotton.

I prefer to sew and piece with all cotton.  My favorite kind of thread is Aurifil.  I like the ones on the orange spools.

If you haven't tried this kind of thread yet, you should.  I think you will love it if only for the gorgeous bobbins you make with this thread!

Here's a link to their website.

My favorite thread

Here is a drawer full of all the threads I don't use very much.  Most of this drawer is polyester thread or dual duty, a nasty kind of poly/cotton blend.

Before I quilted I used these kinds of threads and my Mother did too.  I inherited her threads.  I keep them for emergencies, when I really need a certain color. 
Before polyester thread, cotton thread was the norm and the spools were all wooden.  If you look on the extreme right you see some like these.  I keep them for sentimental reasons and they are all from before 1970. 

I have an additional thread box that my friend Vicki gave me.  I was at her house once, in her sewing room, and I saw reconfigured wooden wine boxes that her Father had fitted with little compartments for threads of every hue for her step Mother, Martha.  They were things of beauty and I may have blurted out, please put it in your will that I can inherit these!

Fearing perhaps that I would hasten her demise, she gave me this box with a magnificent array of Aurifil threads.  It is terrific and is almost as divine as her thread boxes. Almost. 

I keep my collection of Sulky thread in there also which I love for the color even though they are not 100% cotton.  They are in front and very shiny.  I have cones of Aurifil thread on my machine and on the lid of this box.

My spools of thread have not always been this organized.  I recently got a surprise present of an old post office box bank from a dear man that works with my husband.  I decided to put it in my sewing room and put all my quilting threads in there as they are heavier and I hate it when I accidentally use them to piece fabrics.  One thing led to another and you see the slightly OCD result, perfectly organized thread collections. 

   I loved the surprise of getting this terrific gift; I hated the surprise of Cliff breaking his ankle.  Life is like that, sometimes you spend time at the doctor's office and other times sorting and organizing your thread.

I am hoping all your surprises are the thread variety!

Monday, January 23, 2012

What happened on the way to the sewing machine

 Friday it snowed.

You wouldn't think that would interfere much with me sewing but somehow I didn't get a lot of sewing done.

I did get the laundry done and ran around looking at the snow.  Cliff and I decided to brave the elements and go out for lunch.

I know, we are total adventurers.

 We did not eat outside!

Haley Mills Movie Marathon Friday got switched to another Friday so we took my daughter out for Mexican food that night.  I worried about her getting home safely from her teaching job.

So yeah, I guess that was it.

A little bit of sewing.

Lots of snow watching and going out to eat and I finished the laundry.

On Saturday I had to bring my sewing machine in and get the front fixed that has been broken since I got it.  This took the whole day somehow.  I packed it up, we drove to Lockport, had breakfast while they fixed it, bought some yarn and then got sucked into the world of Home improvement as we planned our new kitchen countertop/backsplash redo.  There goes Saturday!

Sunday was book club!

I did sew a bit before everyone got here but the whole day was book club.

I got to use the Asian table top covering that I hemmed on all sides.

 I really liked the way the table looked.
And I love my book club.

While I had book club, my husband went to the Illini game and came home with a twisted ankle.  Ouch!

I think that was about it for Sunday, I threw in the towel and I hope I can get more sewn tomorrow.

Hey, stop complaining, you got the see the table topper I made a while back.  I will get going on Monday, well, I do have to teach and go out for coffee.  But soon!  I promise!

Unless my machine needs more work!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sewing: Best hobby in the world

 While I am working on finishing up the City Green top and then absolutely WOWING you with the results, I will just talk about some of the reasons why I love to sew.

Part of the reason I love to sew is that you get to create something with your own hands.  In today's world I am not sure that this is a value but it is with me.  Plus, you can get exactly what you want.

In 1999 we had a big snowstorm right after Winter Break and then Shelby got sick.  I was home for 3 solid weeks and there was snow everywhere.  I was so desperate to sew that I made a shower curtain from various leftovers of curtain fabrics. 

I have been making them ever since.  Here is one I made for our guest bathroom.  (Sorry Shelby, it's no longer YOUR bathroom.)  I even matched the floral print.
 I liked the way it looked so much I even made a shower curtain from Eiffel Tower fabric for a friend and matched that print.  It makes you feel exceedingly clever.

I had bits of the fabric left over even after I made curtains for Emily's bathroom.  I made this little strip pieced number for the top of a storage unit.  It keep the unit from marking the wall it if gets rocked and keeps the top from getting scratched by the metallic Kleenex box.  And, it is all made from scraps. 

Sigh of contentment.  

We have two bathrooms so of course I had to make a shower curtain for both of them.  Yes, I do realize that they sell shower curtains in stores and online.  But I wanted colors that exactly matched the tiles and counter top.  Plus, I really like stripes and there was a window in there.  They had to match, duh!
I think there is a pride thing going on here as well, I just like knowing I have made all curtains in my home even the shower curtains!

Sorry if I come off a little smug, it's just that sewing is the best hobby in the world.  I know it won't keep me in shape like running/working out would.  But I have some darn good looking bathrooms!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My new friend, Knitting

I am so excited, I got two more rows done on my City Green quilt. 

13 rows done and 3 more to go.  Then I will put a brown strip on the side and decide if or how wide of a border I want.  The book has about a 2 inch border.  I will have my conveniently long armed husband hold it up on the wall and decide.

I won't post another picture of this quilt until it is ready to go on Gladys, my faithful Long arm quilting machine.

To continue the excitement, I finished a scarf for me!  I made 6 of these fluffy scarves with big needles for presents and finally I got to make one for myself.

It hasn't been too cold but maybe it will finally be scarf weather.  Although I would kind of like to wear this one as more than just an outdoor protection scarf.

I think it would look good as an accessory but would I get too hot?  I have been hot flashing for about a decade now.  We shall see!

What I love about this scarf is that the yarn makes stripes on its own. I used the fluffy "eyelash" yarn with a plain bright blue cotton yarn.  I had bought the cotton yarn thinking I could make a hat for a friend but I didn't have the skills yet. 

Here is the first scarf I ever finished.  The latest one is much better.

I like the first one and I wear it but I dropped stitches and the width of it wavers, sometimes shorter and sometimes wider.

I made a similar one for Shelby but forgot to ever take a picture of it.  This was not the assignment in the Knitting 101 class that I took in June of 2010.  That scarf was challenging for me and I needed something more "mindless" to just acquire the muscle memory of knitting.

I don't mind that I have made so many projects that are just pure knitting, I like to challenge myself in sewing and quilting but not yet in knitting.  I let the fun yarns be the focus!

This pink scarf is a basket weave pattern and was the project for my Knitting 101 class.  We were supposed to finish it in June which I did.  However, I finished it in June of 2011 not the same June during which I began it.  I had to make the other simpler scarf and started this sucker over like ten million times.  But finish it I did, by golly, and you can even see the design.

Knitting was hard for me at the beginning and I was so surprised.  I had forgotten how hard it was to learn something new, particularly when you are 57 which I was when I started the class.  I somehow thought that I would pick up those knitting needles, sit in that class and magically just KNOW how to knit.  I was a bit irritated when I had to work at it and learn it.  Sewing is instinctual for me and that summer I had to struggle with the new quilting machine, knitting and golf.  I have conquered the first two after working at it for a year.  The golf, well, let's not talk about that, this is a sewing/quilting/knitting blog after all.  Fine, I still stink at golf, are you happy now?

Skills we have already acquired and can do without really thinking are marvelously entertaining hobbies.  But it's good to add to our repertoire, to really be bad at something and struggle to even be mediocre.  It's humbling and when you do achieve it, it's a great feeling.

Unless it's golf or yoga, I wouldn't know what it's like to conquer those and I am beginning to wonder if I ever will!  Someday?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Just a bit today

No real blog today, sorry!  I am continuing to work on the Green City quilt but the picture would basically look the same.  Thursday night was my Bernina Mastery class, no pictures from that either!  And Friday morning at 7:55 am I have a flight to Jamaica to attend the wedding of a daughter of a dear friend.  I am taking Monday off as heck, I am a teacher and it's MLK day!

See you on Tuesday, the 17th, unless I the airports get snowed in and I can't get home from Jamaica.  Then I will have to leave the resort and seek a fabric shop!

Enjoy the long weekend!  Here are some pictures of past projects to tide me over!
I played with a striped fabric and got 3 pillow friends!

Great looking but those drapery rings don't work for bags.  I need to redo the tops with something different!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gifts for and from Quilters

Progress!  And it feels darn good.
I thought this quilt would sew up faster than it is, I am not sure why, now that I look at what I have sewn so far.  Those are 2 inch squares for goodness sake, why did I think it would basically be strip piecing?

The good thing is that I really like it so far, the greens and brown are outstanding!  In the book, they have dark grey but the brown is better for our room.  The pressure is on, the TV is mounted on the wall there is just one bedroom project yet to be completed and you are looking at it.

I went to my Quilt Guild today.  I had to leave early because of my class but I got to show the quilts I made for Ally and Nick.  I got a little choked up when I was showing them and explaining the circumstances of why I gave them the gifts. I felt such a wonderful wave of compassion and support from the Quilters in attendance.  I really don't know very many of the women there and having this class at the same time won't help but slowly I am sure I will feel like I fit in more.  Today was a terrific start.  If you live in the south suburban area of Chicago, you might want to check out our guild.
Quilters Plus guild website

If you sew, I hope you have a pair of Ginghers.  I am lucky enough to have two full sized pairs and one small one.  My long time friend Vicki gave them to me for presents at various times in my life.  What a great gift.  They are shown on my semi icky ironing board cover but the scissors are top notch.  I have a plain pair I bought myself and recently passed on a pair of Weiss that I had for years.  I got them sharpened over the summer and it is like they are all brand new.

A quilter you love may have a birthday coming up, trust me, you can never have too many shears. I have them in various parts of my sewing room and sometimes can't find a single pair!

We all get various gifts in our lifetime.  Sometimes it is the gift of acceptance and compassion from acquaintances.  Other times it is a beloved object from a dear lifetime friend.

Both gifts and many others have helped me in life.  To quote the Beatles, I get by with a little help from my friends!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kautious Kathy

I had to pin each brown intersection but I got three strips  plus brown mini strips sewn together and the squares line up!
3 down, 13 to go!
When I sew the strips, I alternate which end I start from otherwise when you sew strips together if they all start at the same point, the fabric starts to twist just the tiniest bit and you eventually get a curve in the direction of the finished piece.
I think I will be even a bit more cautious and sew the next strip at the top and then alternate.  I just don't want this to be "off" when I get a few more strips done.  I know, I am one klever Kathy, the quilter!

 Another thing to be cautious about is where you stand in your sewing room.  Personally, my feet are shot.  I taught full time for 35 years and some of those years I also taught a night class.  (Yes, I am a martyr.)

When I started my new class and stood for over 2 hours on a cement floor, my feet really hurt when I got home.  In my sewing room, I have a braided rug by my design/cutting table and a anti fatigue mat along the whole side of my Long arm quilting machine.  It helps and keeps these dogs from barking!

Wednesday is Quilt guild and teaching!  I don't know how I keep up this brutal schedule either.  I think it's because I am cautious and always have a supply of chocolate nearby.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Making things right

 I got three rows done, all the little squares joined together with brown strips between each green square. I also sewed a strip of brown on the bottom and top of the first row.  I was excited to get this all done, I worked before and after teaching my class.  (It went very well, thanks for asking!)  I then sewed a row underneath that and looked at it.


The squares line up at each end but not in the middle.

Rats and a half.  No, double rats!
I have a chair full of 4 square strips that will have to wait.

It took 2.5 hours to get this far today but I cannot go any farther.

I have to rip out the line of stitching  and redo it, this time I will use pins.  Lots of times when I am just strip piecing, I do not pin.  But this needs to be more precise, I should have pinned it from the beginning.

Things get messed up sometimes!

While I was getting ready to load these pictures, I clicked on a link on a google page and POOF the computer was completely overcome by demons, or some kind of computer virus.  It took my husband a couple of hours to restore the computer, do scans and clean it all up.  These things just happen in life.  What blows my mind is that there are people who plant these viruses on links just to mess up people's lives.  Doesn't enough go wrong in life without sending stuff out into the universe to mess with people?  Grrrrr!  I sure hope that they have ruined their karma.  I hope NONE of their quilt blocks line up correctly.  Ever.  I mean this literally and metaphorically. 

Computers and quilts, sometimes we have to stop, redo, clean them all up and makes things right.

Monday, January 9, 2012


 I know this picture doesn't look a lot different from other pictures of the progress on the City Green quilt but really, it is!

No, I have not been drinking, why do you ask?

These units are groups of FOUR squares not TWO, silly!  I sewed them all together, making sure none of the four were the same and then pressed them all, it took a lot of time.  For real.  Tomorrow I will start joining them into one long strip.  I am not sure if tomorrow's pictures will be any more exciting than today's!
 Plus, tomorrow I start a new job, yes, me the retired lady.

Before you are too worried about if I will have time to continue this blog, let me reassure you.  I only work on Mondays and Wednesdays.  I am going to teach Spanish 102 at South Suburban College. The class meets from 12 to 1:40.  I figure with commuting, running off papers, meeting with students, etc. that it will take up from 11:00 to 3:00 twice a week.  I can handle it. 

If that isn't enough excitement, my Aqua Exercise class starts up this week also.  How do I handle all of the commitments?  Discipline, pure and simple, that's how I do it.  That class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 9:45 and I swim laps afterward so it is a pretty brutal week.

It this cuts into my sewing, I apologize in advance!  Here are some fun pictures to make up for the fact that I only have one project going on right now.
I love this shelving unit, it's a primitive antique and I used to have it in my living room.  Now, it is in my sewing room and I have projects here that are in the staging area, they are soon to be on deck.  I have 3 or 4 quilts calling my name and waiting to be made and LOTS of table runners.  Those poor table runners have probably been waiting two years.  I will get to them, I will!

Lest you think I an a total slacker, here's my living room wall.  See, four quilts!  I made these before I had my Gammill so I only pieced them and bound them, I did not machine quilt them.  I love them all!

I will work on the City Green quilt tomorrow when I get home from work.  (Yeah, you've never read that in  this blog before!)

I think it will be a fun experience and maybe I will work little work stories in with my sewing stories.  I will keep sewing because we all know that all work and no playing makes Kathy a very unhappy quilting lady!

It's all about balance, I wish your working and playing are balanced as well.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Memories with pins, music and snow!

I am continuing to work on the City Green quilt, I've been sewing 1" brown strips to 2 1/2" green strips and ironing them.  I am almost done with that and then I have to decide if I want to cut them into 2 1/2" long strips or combine some strips and then cut them.  I am leaning toward the latter even though it will position some colors always next to some other colors.  I could cut the strips in half and then sew them?  It would save me cutting and make the stitching easier.  I will let you know tomorrow what I decide to do.

In the meantime I wanted to write about another quilt I have in my sewing room, it's a Pin quilt.  My friend, Marge, sent me the pattern from D.C. when I revealed that I had saved (hoarded?) all the pins I had gotten in High School or college, and fine, even after college.  Yes, I did save my NHS induction pin, etc.  This gave me a place to put them all.  I just love this quilt, it was easy to make and it reminds me of good times and fun places.  I used to collect refrigerator magnets, now I get souvenir pins!

Another item in my sewing room is my iPod player.  Isn't it a little cutie?  Shelby has helped me put all the songs on it and I am slightly ashamed how nervous it makes me to update my iPod.  I am not sure why, I can make movies, do pictures, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and this blog.  But update my iPod?  Uh, Shelby can I have one more lesson?

I have decided to make this a New Year's goal, I avoid that term resolution; it's so overdone and really people mean WISH.  Sure, I would love to drop 50 pounds, stop swearing and run a marathon. But realistically I think I can become more competent and proficient at putting music on my iPod. 

Nag me if I don't update on how that is going.  I need to conquer this little device!

 It has finally gotten cold here and this was the first little quilt I put on my condo front door.

We then got a dusting of snow!

Wow, could it be winter?

Better get out the snowy quilt I like even better.

Quick!  Go Frosty, go!

Now I have this quilt on my condo door.  However, the half inch we had has pretty much just blown away. 

Maybe snow this year will just be something we remember and is present only on a quilt, like my pins from days gone by. 

No matter if you try to learn something new, no matter what music you play, sometimes all you have are your memories of something you really want.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow? 

Like other hoped for events, maybe next year!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, new quilt, new machine

 It is 2012 and I am hoping this year will bring more happiness to my daughter.  I hope it is good for all of us: you and me but most of all Emily.

I always like to sew whether it's New Years or not.  I have been sewing since I was 13, that is 45 years and I sew when I am happy and I sew when I am not.  I wonder what it does to my brain but it seems to just light it up and keeps me coming back for more.

Over the weekend, I got all the green fabrics ironed and cut into 2 1/2 inch strips.  The pattern makes a quilt that is 65" by 65" and 36 strips.  I want my quilt to be 51" by 41" (approximately) so I cut 32 strips.  I have 16 different greens so it actually was easy math, two strips of each color.  As you can see, I way overbought on the green but one day I will put them with all the leftover blue solids and see what I can come up with!

Then I cut 78 brown one inch strips, or did I?  I am right now looking at those piles and wondering if I cut enough.  I still have tons of brown left, I will just cut more.  
  I am sewing a brown strip to each green strip, well, I will.  I have actually only finished two.

When you sew quilts, it is different from making clothes.  Sew different!  (I never get tired of using sew for so.)  In clothing, you have a 5/8" seam but in quilting a 1/4" is standard which can be tricky to get accurately.  When I first started piecing by machine (after my first two, which I hand pieced)  I put a strip of  masking tape on the machine throat plate to create a 1/4 inch seam guide.  Sewing machines then did not have this line marked.

If you look carefully, you can see that my new Bernina does have a 1/4" seam guide on the extended table.  But the best thing for making this seam is a 1/4" seam guide presser foot.
I am using it in both pictures.  The pressure foot comes down and keeps the fabric in place plus there is a little edge which goes along the fabric and if you make sure the fabric feeds in straight, you will have perfect 1/4 inch seams.  Pretty cool, eh?

My stepdaughter, Olivia, is taking sewing/quilting lessons for the very first time and I have sortof stuck my nose into the process.  (Fine, tried to take it over.)  Bernina makes a beginner machine, a Bernette, and you can get a 1/4 inch foot for that machine.  It is just as cute as can be and pretty inexpensive; I think it's about the best beginner machine out there.  I am hoping that Olivia can return her Singer and we will help her get the Bernette.  No matter what your skill level is, having the right equipment makes it more fun and more successful.  I have a link to the Bernette below.  The one at Thimbles is actually cuter, it's black and sleek and maybe some pink on it?

Happy New Year - maybe all we need is the right equipment and it will be a happy one!

Link to Bernette web site