Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Preparing for the New Year

Thought that it may be a good idea to join in with Shelly at Prairie Moon Quilts in her "Final Countdown" to the end of the year. She will be setting out a task for us each day until the last day of the year. Of course, there is a prize for doing all five tasks which is a bonus!

I have already completed the first two tasks. Day one was to finish sewing a binding on a quilt. I didn't have anything in the works to the point of doing a binding so, instead I decided to make sure that any tops I have done have the bindings cut and stored with the top so that I don't use the fabric for something else. Since I usually do cut the binding right away, this didn't take very long and I spent some time tidying up the sewing room.
I also started to pull out some fabric for a new quilt I want to make for on my guest bed. I saw a quilt I loved on Hanne's Quilt Corner and decided it was just what I wanted to do. I pulled out all the pink and yellow fabrics I could find to audition for the new quilt. I think its going to be a good quilt to work on because of the happy colors.
Day two task was to put away any stray fabric. Since I had already done a tidy-up yesterday, I didn't have a lot to put away other than what I rejected for the new quilt. I spent a few hours ironing fabrics and cutting for the quilt. Then, I sewed up four blocks just to see how they looked!
I went back and looked at the pattern on Mary's blog and saw that she did her red and cream Double Four Patch all scrappy. Now I am wondering if I should just mix up all my fabrics for a scrappier look or if I should just continue going on the way I have started? What do you think?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two blocks for Joseph's Coat

An update on my slow progress on my Joseph's Coat blocks. I have only completed two blocks so far. The first I did using the instructions as written by Kellie at Don't Look Now using glue stick to prepare the appliqué shapes. I think that perhaps my glue stick was old as it did not stick well. I found a newer one but I have found that the glue is still a bit sticky even after more than a week.

Since I was not able to find a local supplier of the Floriani Stitch and Wash Fusible nor a reasonably priced mail order source to Canada, I have had to resort to using freezer paper which I have in abundance. I decided to experiment with spray starch for prepping the shapes and found I liked it a bit better. I am able to get nice sharp points without any trouble.

Using freezer paper means that it must be removed at some point. I am stitching down one side of the 'petals' in the center of the block then removing the paper just prior to stitching the second side down. I took them out of the outer edge petals on the first block after stitching down the one side but soon discovered that they should be left in until after the blocks are joined as the outer edges have not stayed turned under. I was trying to make the block look nice to photograph and when I hit it with the iron, all those edges kinda got messed up. As a result of this lesson, the block on the left may not make the final cut unless I am able to do needle-turn on those edges. That will be determined when we get the block joining instructions.

Happy stitching!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Here I go.. making adjustments to Joseph's Coat

I spent most of Sunday doing the prep work for Joseph's Coat but not without a few problems.

My first problem was my compass. It would only open to a maximum size of just over 4.5 inches and the instructions call for a compass set to 5.5 inches. I decided to just go with the 4.5 inches which should make my blocks for this quilt finish about 9 inches which I think (hope) will be ok.

When I began drawing the circles, I discovered that it made a difference in how I held my cheapo compass. The difference in the circles could be as much as 1/8 inch off. I used some tape to secure the shaft of my pencil to the arm of the compass to keep it from wiggling and managed to draw my basic pattern.

I created the template and drew some petal shapes onto freezer paper as I have plenty of it on hand. I did do a trick to make lots of petals at once. I layered more sheets of freezer paper underneath the top one with the drawn petals. Then, I put a staple into each petal to secure all the layers.

I also used my Clover mini iron to heat bond the layers together BETWEEN the petals. You have to be sure not to get the petals bonded or they won't come apart. (Lesson learned) I then rough cut rows of petal shapes and continued to staple the next rows until all were cut. I took these to my comfy chair and spent an hour watching quilt shows on video while I cut all the petals out.
Once all the petals were cut precisely, I removed the staples and separated them. (This is when I discovered that some of my stacks were accidentally welded together when I did the iron tacking trick.. so I lost a few.)I've decided to just use scraps for this project so I got out all my strips and ironed the freezer paper petal shapes onto the wrong sides. I cut out enough to make one block and proceeded to glue the edges. This is when I discovered that glue sticks can get old and become useless. The edges would not stick down. I went digging and found another glue stick and it worked better although those pointy ends are VERY fiddly and difficult to get precise. I found that it was a bit easier if I also used the Clover mini iron to heat set the glue especially on the points.  (I may experiment using spray starch to prep my petals to see if it works better for me.) I had 12 petals prepared and the whole day was gone. Next, I need to decide just how big I am going to make this so I can find some background fabric to use. Right now, I am thinking perhaps crib or lap size....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Don't Look Now...

Photo is from Don't Look Now.

Kellie has a wonderful, happy color filled blog called Don't Look Now. She is currently hosting a quilt-along doing a design she calls Joseph's Quilt. Everything about this quilt (and Kellies site and other patterns for that matter) says HAPPY to me... 

I was debating on whether or not I would commit myself to another long-term hand project right now but this is Oh-So-Tempting! When I was checking out some of the links to others' sites, I found many that didn't seem to connect so... in a moment of abandon, I posted a comment letting Kellie know. Seems now, I am the quilt-along police...  LOL  No worries but, I figure I had better jump in and start one of my own now! I posted my link to her Mr. Linky and... wouldn't you know it... it is going to an old post, not to this one...  I feel so silly...

I best be off to find some fabrics. I am thinking that I may just do this like the original Joseph's Coat and make it of many colors - scraps! Guess I better get a wiggle on....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Out of order and maybe a new embroidery machine...

Today, I finally broke down and took my trusty sewing machine to be serviced and repaired. 

I was sewing the binding on to a small table center-piece and it was making a terrible clacking  noise whenever I went faster than just barely moving... so, I guess it was time.

While I was at the sewing machine store, I looked at an embroidery machine. My machine is an older top of the line model with embroidery but the maximum design size is only 4" x 4". I have been seeing lots of designs now that are larger than that and have collected some freebies on various embroidery sites. Now I really want a machine with a larger design field.

I still want to keep my current machine as I love it and I think I have every foot that is available for it so, I think the way to go might be to get a stand alone embroidery machine. I'm just starting to look and would be thrilled if anyone had suggestions for me. Do you own an embroidery machine? What do you like about it and what do you wish it had? I would really love to hear your recommendations.

Why is it that, when you know its not sitting in there patiently waiting, you come up with all kinds of ideas for things you could sew right now? I probably could put my time to very good use by cleaning up the sewing room so everything is tidy when it gets home. 

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Beginnings of My Journey in Quilts

*** Looking for my Joseph's Coat posts??  I goofed setting my link up (insert red face here)! Please click HERE ***

Robyn at Daisy Quilts has issued an invitation for everyone to tell about their first quilts and how we began. Click on the "Where did we Begin?" button above to go to her page. But, before you leave, here is my story.
The very first quilt I can remember working on was in 1969 or 1970. It was a tradition at that time, especially in rural areas, that young ladies had a "hope chest" to take with them when they married. For my family, this was basically a collection of linens such as tea towels, pillowcases, doilies and at least one quilt. There may have been more, but those are the only items I can really remember.
I have been sewing since I was a child. I also learned the fine art of embroidery on tea towels and pillowcases. I have always loved any kind of needlework and it seemed to come very easily to me. At about 11 years of age, I joined a 4-H Sewing Club where I learned dressmaking skills along with other stitching arts.
When my mother decided it was time to get a quilt into my hope chest (I was 17 after all), I was already a fairly competent seamstress. I found a pattern for a quilt in a magazine and we set out to make the quilt. The pattern I picked was the bow-tie. These were the days BEFORE rotary cutters and fast techniques... so every piece for every block was traced and cut with scissors. I can still remember mom getting frustrated with the "Y" seams so she passed it over to me to sew the blocks. Once I had the top put together, the ladies from our church came to the house and helped hand quilt using pearl cottons - everyone around one frame.
So here it is... my first quilt (or what is left of it). It has been a part of my family for all these years.

I've only recently rescued it from my youngest daughter when she told me that it needed a "few" repairs. I almost fainted when I heard that it was being put through the laundry almost weekly...
Since all the fabrics used for the bows were scraps, this quilt holds many memories in those fabrics.
My mothers dresses and aprons from the 40's and 50's. Scraps from my sister's clothing

Remnants from a blouse I made in either 4-H or home-EC and a skirt which I sewed.

And my favorite piece is a bit of paisley fabric left from a coat and dress I made to wear on my first airplane trip when I went to Expo 1967 in Montreal. (That was when I decided I wanted to be an airline stewardess.. unfortunately at 5' 10", I was too tall.)Remnants from baby clothing made for my nephew Neil who was born when I was only 10.My second quilt didn't happen until the late 1980s. This time a chose an appliqué pattern, again from a magazine. The fabric I used was given to me by my mom again... FORTREL from used clothing and leftover yard goods. This stuff wears like iron (and feels much the same - not at all cuddly) and she felt it was a great fabric for quilts as they would not easily wear out. At the time it never occurred to me that I could go buy fabric just to cut up to make quilts so I used what I had been given.
This quilt is so heavy and warm you can hardly sleep under it! No fear of it ever wearing out! It is a long, double size, machine appliqued (before I knew about fusibles) and then finished by tying as there was no way you could actually do a quilting stitch through this heavy stuff!
I took a beginners quilting course shortly after doing this quilt in order to learn how to use "the newest thing in quilting" at the time... a rotary cutter with an acrylic ruler and self healing mat. I made a simple log cabin quilt all in pastel pinks and blues during that class. I think my daughter has passed it on to my granddaughter who is still using it!

OK, now you can go to Robyn's blog and check out everyone else's first quilts and their stories! Add yours too!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wild Flower Pincushion

Wild Flower Pincushion

I saw this pincushion on Linda's blog and fell in love... I had to go find the directions for it so I could make one too and thought it would be nice to share the link for anyone else who is interested. I'm going to find my funkiest fabric and put one of these together this weekend!!

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Learning to Hand Quilt Woes

Ok - I really, really want to be able to hand quilt some of my projects. I've done a little hand quilting before, a pillow top and on a runner (see post here) but, I never did use a hoop. I just held everything in my hands and stitched. I guess it turned out ok.. but, to me, its still not the "right" way?? 

I went out and bought myself a quilting hoop on a stand. It sat in its box by the door in my sewing room for almost a year before I finally got it out and put it together. Then, it sat there in the corner for a while longer until I got brave enough to actually put something in the hoop.

I decided that my recent EPP project would be a good size to start with so prepared everything. I thread basted my sandwich so I wouldn't need to worry about pins. Fabrics are all cotton and of good quality. Batting is warm & natural. Needles size 9 quilting.

I've read all the instructions for doing the quilting stitch, watched tv how-to shows, seen demonstrations... I can wear a thimble and forget I have it on. I just can't seem to get even stitches and it feels SO awkward. How am I ever going to graduate to bigger quilts?? My work certainly won't take any prizes anytime soon.

Who says this is supposed to be relaxing? Are needles supposed to bend like that and break??? At this rate, this project is going to eat up 20 or more needles. I'm sure that, back when sewing needles were prized possessions, they didn't go through them like this on a small quilting project! What am I doing wrong?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mystery 51 Block Revealed

Since the mystery has finished and the solution posted on Paper Panache, here is my finished version of Paper Panache Mystery #51 Block...

Now I just need to figure out what to do with this... It measures 10.5" square. Any ideas???

Friday, July 17, 2009

Its a Mystery

I came across the latest paper piecing mystery (#51) at Paper Panache last week and decided that I would give it a try. She warns that this one is a "bigger investment in time" than the last one...

This block calls for four shades of blue, a white and a contrasting background. Since I'm not much of a 'blue person', I went digging in my scraps and came up with four purples, a sliver of white and a chunk of coral for the background... and I began.

Most of my 'stolen quilting moments' over the past week have been working on this piece. It has eleven sections with over 150 individual segments in total. Still not sure what made me think that I could just whip this one up... there are probably quilters out there who managed to make a whole quilt in the length of time I've spent on this one block! Oh well - its done and now, I have no idea of what I will do with it....

I will post a photo of the completed block as soon as Linda at Paper Panache reveals the solution for this mystery - just so I don't spoil the surprise for anyone else! 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Its been a while....

I'm still here!  I have been busy helping set up our new business but I am making a point to take time to do a little bit of sewing again. I found all the bits for my embroidery machine, had Curt resurect an old Windows '95 computer so that I could download the font onto the card that my sewing machine uses and managed to embroider one tank top with the business name although, I am picking out part of the bottom of the design because I didn't like the way the smaller font looked when it stitched out. Its amazing how much one can forget in a relatively short span of time!! Its also infuriating that the software one pays good money for does not get updated...

Most of what I am doing at the moment is English Paper Pieceing which is by hand and is so easy to do while relaxing. I'm working on a project now from CD Designs called "Flower" although I have not been able to keep up to the weekly steps.  I'm sure I am about 4 weeks or so behind by now but I keep plugging away at it.

Here is a picture of Angel doing her best "Pointer" impersonation!  And, just because I love them, some apple blossoms! 

Take care until next time....


PS - not sure why I can't get these pictures to go where I want them!  GRRRR

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Something New

It seems to hold true that, when one door closes, another one opens! 

We are opening a new business!! CJ and I have been working on our business plan and cash flow forecasts for the past month for our new venture called "Color Blenz". We will be doing automotive paint repairs such as chip and scratch retouching, bumper blends and then, in a few months, expanding into detailing.

We have finished the plans and applied for funding through Community Futures. We were told a week ago that we had been approved and now we are just waiting for the paperwork to be finalized so we can go sign the papers.

We have found shop space and have been doing what needs done there in order to obtain our "occupancy permit". Thankfully, there was not much - just a small bit of plumbing, replacing several electrical outlets and installing fire extinguishers. As soon as the plumber is done tomorrow, we can ask for our final inspection, get the permit and then our business licence.

I am really looking forward to this! 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Rant on Unfair Employment Practices

You may (or may not) have wondered what happened to me, where I have been for the past weeks since my last post. I had accepted a job that was supposed to be part-time but turned out to be full-time and more in the scope of work that was expected of me.

The only problem was, I was on salary and was only paid for the time stated in the original agreement at part-time wages even though these people told me verbally that I would be paid extra for the first few months to get things caught up and back on track. I was putting in 8 hours or more monday thru friday, worked thru numerous weekends as well and never saw any extra for my trouble.  I was earning substantially less than minimum wage. In the month of March, I worked 187 hours that I reported to the company. I had to submit a daily work log stating what I had done and the number of hours I worked. They knew exactly the time I put in. 

There still seem to be those unscrupulous people around who will take advantage of others without loosing any sleep at night over it and rubbing their hands together all the way to the bank with the money they ripped off of you. 

Above all, I dispise being used. I am thankful that I am no longer working there although there are tenants there who befriended me that I will miss. Many have called to express their disbelief at what has transpired. 

I do believe in Karma - and their turn will come. Am I bitter? Yes, but I will get over it and remember well the lesson learned. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

That four letter word.... WORK

It has finally happened - I have returned to W.O.R.K. after being off for 2 years. 

We have taken on a position managing two apartment buildings for Woodsmere Holdings, 94 units in total. Its going to take time to get to know the routine as well as getting other things in order there. We have put in long days for the past week already and still have so much to do prior to the end of the month.

Its going to take some time for me to learn all the ins and outs of property management. CJ has done this kind of work before so the transition has been a bit easier for him. It also means that, for a while, I may not be able to do much in the way of quilting. I still seem to be quite tired by the time I'm done work for the day and we worked through last weekend.

Once we have our suite in the building ready, I'll be able to set up a small sewing room again and hopefully be able to get back to doing some quilting!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

January Finish

I was told that I was too late to sign up for the "finish one a month challenge" at Abyquilt but, I am going to challenge myself to do it anyways!! Accordingly, I am setting my own rules. I'm going to have different types of finishes:
- Phase One Finish - All the piecing for the project is complete according to the instructions or pattern used.. in other words, a flimsy (finished quilt top only).
- Phase Two Finish - The completed flimsey is backed and quilted.
- Phase Three Finish - Quilt has binding sewn on and is labeled, ready to use (or hang).
If anyone else would like to join me, let me know and we will start our own "finishing school"!

My finish (Phase One) for January is the EPP Star Table Topper that was a mystery from CD Designs. The top is done, but I now need to figure out how to complete it. I think an additional border would look good although the design instructions don't include one. Since it is made by English Paper Piecing, I have to remove all the papers from the back, even along the outer edges. Then, I'll need to open out the edge seam allowances so that I have something to attach to. Cross your fingers for me! If you have any ideas on an easier way to do this, I'd love to hear it!!

I finally figured out that my problem with posting pictures is related entirely to the newest update for the brower I use, Opera. I far prefer Opera over IE but, until they can fix this glitch, I'm stuck using IE to upload any pictures.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Belated Happy New Year!

For some reason, Blogger is not letting me upload pictures.. please bear with me until I find a cure....

Is it just me or do the weeks, months and years seem to be going by faster and faster the older that you get?? I swear that New Years Day just happened and now, the whole month of January is over!! I'm beginning to understand now why it was that when my mother was in her 70's, her whole day was taken up by going to see the doctor and making supper.

Time stands still for no-one and I know that I need to learn to make better use of the time that is here now for me to use. There are no "hold over minutes" in real life! I find that, sometimes, I get rather bogged down with things especially if I have no clear plan in place, or a deadline of some kind to work towards. I know I have talked before about goals.. I know what I NEED to do. It seems though that the one thing I do have down pat is procrastination.

I wasn't always this way. In my younger years, I got many things done in a day or week. There was time to go camping on many weekends even though I had a full time job outside of the home and children to care for. I can recall starting to cut out a dress at 10:00 o'clock at night and surviving on just a few hours sleep so that I could wear that same dress to work the next day. Now, it seems to take weeks and months sometimes to finish even small projects. I have almost totally stopped doing any garment sewing. The closest I get now is some mending.

I no longer wear skirts and dresses much. The uniform of the day for me has become jeans and a t-shirt or sweatshirt unless I dress up - then its nicer jeans and a nicer top. *LOL* My closet though is still stuffed to the max with all kinds of clothes. Its another of those tasks that I keep saying I am going to do "some day". I have A LOT of those "some day" tasks around my home. I did download a "Declutter Calendar" from My Simpler Life so that I could follow the suggestions there for gaining control of the clutter and actually fight my way through my messes.

Decluttering my home is my BIG goal for this year. That includes working to finish some of the many WISP's (Work In Some Progress) and UFO's (UnFinished Objects) in my sewing room. I am also going to join along with all the others at Abyquilt to finish at least one project per month in 2009. It is good to know that there are others who are in the same situation and hopefully, we can encourage one another along the way to meeting our goals this year!