Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thanks, Ron's Mom

This is some of the stash that was given to me. Someone's mother was moved from her home and these "2 boxes of junk fabric should be thrown out, but Elaine might like it", and it came to me. Thank you, Ron.

Yesterday, I had the fabric pieces outside in the sunshine, trying to freshen it up. Late in the day, I gathered it all up and dropped it in a basket for today's project of washing and sorting. In the process of sorting, ZOWEEEEE, a wasp was IN the fabric and let me have it on my finger. I quickly removed my ring in preparation for expected swelling, and since I've never been stung before, called my DH for instant care if I stopped breathing or something equally serious. Then, I grabbed the baking soda (again) and made a -- oh gosh, you will think I live in "Little House on the Prairie Days" -- I made a POULTICE of baking soda and water, slathered it on my finger, and surprisingly, no swelling, and barely any pain. I don't even know where I heard about baking soda poultice. (I could call it a compress, that's a modern word!) LOL

There are a LOT of shirtings in this pile of possibly 35 yards. Most are large chunks of 1/2 yd., but several are 3 yds, and one is 6 yards (backing!, yeah). And only 2-3 small pieces of floral for the woman. Isn't that touching? Fixing and making for everyone else, many men it would appear, and only a few items for the woman. A story could be written by what I'm seeing.

I still have NOT washed/sorted all the muslins, which I estimate to be another 15 yds. Guess this all has to be included on my Fabric Diet, even though I did not purchase anything.

Now, that I'm shopping at the Mission store, and people are giving me their castoffs, I DO need to make it clear and even though I LOVE these freebies, I am NOT a pauper -- yet! But the success of that last Shirt Quilt was so inviting, I want to make MORE using that almost-free fabric.

I went back to the Mission store today -- yes, 2 more shirts and one teapot, all for $2.00! AND, the lady assured me that ANY purchases from the Mission store was just fine - I was NOT taking a shirt away from a poor person.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Two Wolves - who do you feed?

Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, fear, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:

"Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Shirt Quilt DONE and a smelly box of scraps

Not bad for a bunch of old shirts! This one was FUN - just plain FUN! Let's see, 15 shirts at the Mission store for $7.50, and we kept four of them ... the top probably cost about $4.00? The backing is an on-sale white with small black 'doo-dads' shirting. I have a LOT of shirtings left over. All the scraps went back into the 'Shirt Fabric' box, and what do I find in that box ??? 25 Jacob Ladder 9 inch blocks, all DONE, of shirt fabrics. Apparently, my NEXT project is waiting for me. This possible addition is not my fault! - It's Bonnie Hunter's fault at Quiltville.com! ("lol, lol" said with great happiness). Above is a close up of quilting. I wish I had quilted the flying geese in 2 colors, but when I started, I didn't know how to do that. By the time I was finished, let me tell you, I KNOW now. 8-) OK, it's a utility-type quilt, but my DH sure LOVES it!

What I learned? A lot of the fabric was thready and ravely. I should have been more generous with starch. Some is also loose in weave resulting in stretching. The seam allowance on the side of the geese border got a little teensy in places, so the binding was not as neat as usual.

So, it's done -- I was thinking about revisiting the Mission store after work today, to fill in some blanks in my fabric stash? Luckily, that answer was provided today at my office -- what timing! Someone had cleaned out his Mother's home and found 2 boxes of scraps - he brought them to ME! What a great gift!!! I knew they would not be fresh, and would have some throwaways, but, here are a lot of keepers - especialy shirtings of all things - freshening up on my badly-needing-painting deck railing.

OK, group, how do I freshing them up better than this method???

They are cotton bits and pieces - if I washed them, they would definitely get very ravely.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Happy Saturday!

Some days work our really nicely!

Fons and Porter had a nice program on Love of Quilting, we didn't have ANY political nor financial news on the TV, I managed a bit of housework, went grocery shopping and came home to THIS (below) in the mailbox. I ordered it directly from the distributor, just a short time ago. Oh Bonnie Hunter, of quiltville.com thank you, thank you! The book is just wonderful. It will be interesting to see how our fabric-consumption-world will view this approach.

I love Bonnie's quilts! For years her site was MY home page on my home and office computers, and if you've followed her blog, you know how often she posts new projects!

This Shirt Quilt (below) sat on the living room floor for 1 week until I decided SOMETHING for a quilt pattern! I finally decided on a light gray, allover swirl. Again, I used water soluble thead for basting (hey, I had some left!) in addition to the pins, because there is a lot of pushing and mashing that quilt through the machine harp. The water soluble thread is visible in the flying geese border. The pins can be removed early and there's no fear of sewing over them.
And if it hadn't been for Bonnie, I NEVER would have thought about using Mission shirts for a quilt.

I can't wait to rinse out the thread and see the end result! Maybe tomorrow?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tip of the Day

Do you have a bunch of left over, unused, pieces of batting stashed somewhere in your home? Get your tape measure, pen, a few pins, some scrap paper and take 5 minutes to label them all as to size -- It DOES save time and you begin to believe you are actually organized! (This is fairly elementary but you never know what tip the next person hasn't thought of! -- It took me a few years to buy into this suggestion.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shall I fix it, or leave it alone?

OK, the 'odd' block (bottom center) is not the problem. But the last border (left side) -- totally on it's own -- sewed itself on in the wrong direction. How can that happen?

Woven shirtings are very thready, ravely, and those points are not perfect, and if you fiddle too much they distort. It takes some patience to get the points nice on the border, not too float-y nor chopped off. I worked very hard sewing, unsewing, until each one was as near-perfect as possible. You know sew, oversew, and then sew again a teensy bit closer? -- making unsewing a TERRIBLE chore. And the threads nicely disappear in the weave of the cloth. But I swear, I was SURE that last border was pointing the other direction when I pinned it on?

Once again, I should not have said to myself, "Hey, it's turning out great!" (ye ole "Pride Goeth Before the Fall" me thinks.)

Would you unsew that last border so it goes in the other direction? Since this is a casual-type quilt, my tendance is to leave it alone - you know - the "it adds interest" thing. It measures about 60 x 60 inches, and I really DO like it!

And once again, I owe the inspiration for this quilt to Bonnie, at www.quiltville.com, who has an amazing talent for making wonderful quilts out of scraps.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Award

At our July Quilt Show I entered two quilts - both of them were ordinary, and I didn't expect any recognition, but I DO like to add to the mix of quilts. My own personal feeling to showing quilts is to encourage others to get into this wonderful hobby, but yes, it's always an amazing compliment to create a winner. The ribbons are awarded by Viewers, not by judges.

But ... this is MY own personal, special award given to ME by the Quilt Show Committee! It's the BEST! Thank you!

Friday, September 19, 2008

What I did on my Vacation

Returning from an at-home vacation and a scenic drive through northern Colorado, I was so pleased to see this award given to me by Ruth at CountryLogCabin. Thank you, bunches. Now, one of the rules ... huh? RULES???? oh no, I'm dead!!! Everyone of the names in my side bar, as well as each of the bloggers who stop by my blog, or whose names are in my Bloglines (over 100) are also worthy of this award. Some days, each of you, have provided ME with some measure of inspiration, ideas, calm, wisdom, etc. I cannot possibly choose just a few!
When returning home, I resumed my Shirt Quilt, which called for a million flying geese. I am using the No Waste Flying Geese method, which calls for drawing lines but I decided the last step of 'drawing lines' could be eliminated by drawing the line ONCE on my machine bed, instead of on each of the many squares. I keep my eye on the corner of the square and that right line, drawn 1/4 inch from the center line. Saves me drawing on 100s of squares and the square is still sewn straight. Works for me, and the line eventually wears off.

I'm very pleased with this quilt, and have used all Mission Shirts as well as pieces left over from shirts I've made for my husband. He needs extra tall, and likes snaps on his shirts, so I've made most of his shirts. I especially like the randomness in the border. Again, thanks to Bonnie of www.quiltville.com for all her GREAT ideas! In my last post I mentioned her book was out -- well it's not quite out, it's 'almost' out, and not yet released. I'm already placed my order! Yeahhhh!

The lower photo (above) shows a closer view, where I've sewed on a shirt label -- it adds a lot to the character, and used several more in the project, including one that says "Handcrafted by Elaine Adair" ... you know, those labels we've ordered to put in our special gifts we made?

Our driving trip through Northern Colorado was lovely, fresh, beautiful! But we enountered a lot of rain and fog, which turned into 3-5 ft. of snow, making our planned drive to Estes Park impassable! Uhhhh, we flatlanders forgot about that!

The damage caused by the Pine Bark Beetle is devastating, destroying millions of acres of Pine Forests. Apparently, there is no reasonable solution, other than time.

You can figure why a quilter would love this rock formation photo. Looks like quilting lines to me!
We drove what is called the "Poudre Cache" route, starting from Ft. Collins, going west to Walden, around down to Granby, then hopefully through Rocky Mountain National Part to Estes Park (where we couldn't get to, due to snowfall). The last photo is just one I liked, especially the reflection in the mirror. This was going to Waldron, CO, a high plateau with many fields of hay, cattle, and FLAT.

After this vacation, I believe I've reached a new 'plateau' in my own life. The one where one must admit, "it's REALLY nice to sleep in one's own bed!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Using Shirts

Once again, my inspiration came from Bonnie of Quiltville.com (who incidentally, has her new book out in the market!) I've been collecting men's shirtings for years. Also, I've made numerous shirts for my DH, so all those scraps are also hanging around. My last Mission Store 'haul' netted me 15 cotton shirts for $7.50. What a deal -- we kept and are wearing 4 of them!

I'm making an effort to keep these blocks subdued, plain, and toned down. The one far right is not correct - that was my audition block - the flying geese should be light, not dark.

My last trip to the Mission Store left me with a knot in my stomach. I was looking for appropriate cotton shirtings and went to the Men's 4X section where I found a doozey! It was cotton and HUGE! Big mouth me, as I paid for it, I enthusiastically mentioned "this was going to make a great quilt!", to which she responded, "I hope a poor fat man doesn't come in looking for a shirt!"

Wow!! Kick in the gut, WOW!!! I had to rethink this Mission Store shirt buying escapade. I felt so guilty, I didn't even BLOG about that. Never had I given any consideration to that point of view! This bothered me so much for months -- I finally CALLED the Store Manager and expressed my unorthodox use of the Mission Store, and was I taking a decent shirt away from a fat man? Was I being selfish? unChristian, not helping my neighbor, uppity, snooty, unappreciative of those less fortunate than I?

She ASSURED me that ANY Mission Store was happy to sell ANYTHING to anyone! They always had more than enough to go 'round. Whew, conscience clear. 8-)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Playing, and Use Caution

I've had several requests, "What kind of machine do you have?", "Do you have a stitch regulator?" This is my machine, a Janome MC 6500. It's about 3 years old . (Of course there is a new and improved version with something called Accu Feed, that I know nothing about.) I like what I have. And, NO I don't have a stitch regulator. I do it myself. Some machine quilting areas are better than others.

Today, while DH was watching the DANGED political news on TV, and commenting in his usual "blankety blank" manner back to the TV commentators, I decided to excuse myself and"go play" for a bit and this is what I made, done in about 20 minutes.

I used 3 different threads. One 40 wt. for the first leaves, a 12 wt. limey green for the hyper-quilting, and a 40 wt. cotton variegated thread (not shown) to highlight around the motif. This was all learned from my PatsyThompsonDesigns.com DVD.

While I was admiring my practice project, DH walked in and also commented positively. We both have been reminded all too frequently the part about "pride goeth before the fall" and as he started the sentence to remind me to be cautious about feeling too cocky, my elbow hit my sewing box - the box with 100 needles, all my feet, tools, bobbins, and they flew EVERYWHERE!

OK Elaine Adair, you've practiced this fancy machine quilting enough. Go and quilt a quilt!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ladies - Be Prepared

As temperatures are dropping, I decided it was time to learn about this subject tonight. Who knows -- I might actually have to DO this job, some day, by myself.

Our furnace is an old, so far dependable, behemoth oil unit, converted to gas. (If I didn't have that huge old furnace, I'd have room for a long-arm!!!)

I have heard of women who have never pumped their own gasoline, have never brought their car in for service themselves, have not managed a checking account (huh? in this day and age?). Being independant by nature, I can manage most of the household maintenance projects, but the furnace operations eluded me. Hey, it cost nearly $100.00 for a service call and the tech wouldn't know how to do it right anyway. I'd rather do it myself. You never know when you'll need to know these things!

I'll leave these instructions for the next home owner should we ever leave.

Turning AC off, and furnace ON (inside and Out)

1. Turn A.C. switch OFF (down) on the outside of house and associated breaker panel switch in basement OFF.
2. Get rug for knees. Grab a bunch of paper towels and stuff them in your pocket. Collect flashlight and two adjustable wrenches. Pull hair off your face and clip it back - very important!
3. Turn light on by water heater, open lower panel on furnace, get down on your knees or stomach (hope you are wearing old clothes!) and lubricate both right and left ‘spigots’ on each side of the motor. You need two hands to do this job - one to hold the spring loaded oil spot and one to hold the oil can, so I hope stomach/chest muscles are in great shape. Oil can is already there. A longer spout would be helpful on the oil can. A stronger battery on the flashlight would also be helpful. A younger body for the 'doer' would also be helpful. Rotate the belt several times.
4. Change Filters (2). You are DONE in this area.
5. Remove precious Barbed Wire Collectible (Robert's) on the wood door that opens into the other side of the furnace. Open the door with muscle!(it sticks) on the other side of the furnace, access from the family room. Remove furnace panel to expose the works.
6. Open door to boiler, and locate Red Reset button near floor. Assure that pilot valve is ON. Looks like the letter “B” .. (need wrench) to turn it to a vertical position.
7. Get matches, extension match holder from the cabinet to your right where they are stored. Then, look down inside boiler to locate the approximate area of pilot light. You will have to put you head INSIDE the boiler to find it. That's why you need your hair pulled out of the way.
8. Light match without breaking it at the same time and secure it in the extension tool.
9. Look at the equipment near the floor and locate the RED reset button. While holding down the RED button with left hand, reach down inside the boiler with your right hand in the area of the pilot light, with lit match clipped on the extension tool and listen for the pilot light to ignite, all the time continuing to hold the RED Reset Button down. When the pilot lights, continue to hold down the RED button for about 1 minute. This has something to do with a thermoxxxxxxer.
10. Get back UP from your knees. It might help to keep a small chair or stool in this area to lean on while trying to get back in an upright position.
11. If you don’t have an assistant to yell at, RUN upstairs, set Thermostat to HEAT, and temp to appropriate setting to ensure furnace will turn ON. When you hear the Whoosh downstairs, everything is working correctly.
12. Close the boiler door. Close the panel on the furnace.
13. Close that damned wood door that needs to be shortened so it doesn’t close with such difficulty – you need muscle to close it!
14. Replace collectable Barbed Wire ‘thing’ on the Damned Wood Door, then go upstairs and fix yourself a Screwdriver to celebrate accomplishment of this job.
15. Carry tools, flashlight, back upstairs, replace the rug that you put down for your poor ole knees.
16. Enjoy the warmth! Modulate thermostat upstairs for ON and OFF relative to temerature settings.
17. Occasionally, if the wind blows very hard, that pilot light blows out.

Come spring, reverse the process.

The awful truth

2008 Fabric Purchased 86 yards
2008 Fabric Used, Items DONE 113 yards
2008 $ spent for sewing and quilting related supplies $1,427.00
I started keeping track of ALL my fabric/sewing related purchases, in January 2008. Of course, I've lapsed a time or two but here it is folks - the TRUTH! A LOT of my costs are books - I'm a sicker uhhh, SUCKER for them! Also, a big chunck of my $ spent was for a Quilt Convention. I've refrained from new fabric purchases much more frequently than in previous years.

Hey, remember if you use some of that fabric and old batting for MQ practice, and keep or throw it out, you can count it as USED UP!

Remember that survey that Quilter's Newsletter Magazine (I hope that's right) did a number of years ago? According to that survey, I fall kinda in the middle of the 'average' quilter/sewist, regarding $ spent, but that survey was a number of years ago, so with inflation, cost of living increases, I'm spending LESS than the average. Hmphhhpghhhh so there! my dear DH.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Practicing Machine Quilting on a DSM

After watching a bit of my PatsyThompsonDesigns.com DVD early this morning, I couldn't resist practice stitching. THAT's what I like about her DVDs -- they inspire me.

I started with swirls/circles but got bored and went into my own version of 'whatever they are'. This 'whatever they are' design fills the area easily, travel lines blend well, and I like the curves. Again, you can't make them huge on a DSM, but in reality, they look better on a smaller scale.
For those gals who are reticent about machine quilting on their domestic sewing machine -- YOU CAN DO THIS! You just have to try! One more thing? stop reading all the do's and don't, thread info, etc. Just sit down and DO IT! Then, if you run into problems, start reading the do's and don'ts. We are bombarded with so much information, it becomes tooooooo much and scares a lot of us into paralysis!

My thread was a nice variegated cotton on top, and the bottom is regular bobbin thread. My machine (so far) takes anything I give it! I hardly EVER change any tension, top or bottom (knock on wood!).

Friday, September 05, 2008

You Can't Make These Things Up!

"Gunshot Victim Sues to Recover His Prosthetic Leg!"
My small town has occasional gun issues. This one takes the cake!

This poor victim received 4-5 serious gunshot wounds. Seems one of the bullets was lodged in his leg, a prosthetic leg. The leg was seized by the Police as evidence for a possible trial. The victim was hospitalized for a number of days, recovering from the assault, but as he was recovering, he could not use crutches because of his wounds, but additionally, he had no leg to stand on! (my pun!) His wife had to SUE the County Attorney to get the leg returned, valued at $28,000. A judge ordered police to return the victim's prosthetic leg. Whew!

To make it worse, it was already repeated on Paul Harvey (all over the entire nation!) Radio Program!

Now, that's what we do for entertainment! LOL

Fusible Thread

OK, AFTER using fusible thread, (see previous post) I Googled the matter and duhhh, it says "fusible thread should not be used in place of regular thread" ... And if one wants to use it on binding to fuse the binding down, use a wide zig-zag stitch around the quilt edge to give the fusible more stick power" (... sounds like a lot of extra work to me). Can you imagine dragging the entire large quilt on the ironing board, and taking the time to press, and hold it each time, to see if the fusible fused, and then waited until it cooled to see if it is still 'stuck'? I'm NOT a fusser, being relatively practical. THAT experiment will NOT be repeated. My bindings are fine my way, thank you very much! And I DO press them over, to get a neat edge on the top, and handstitch them on the back. People say they can always recognize my quilts by my neat bindings. Better not change methods.

Just thought I'd clarify that situation.

Monday, September 01, 2008

2 Experiments, 50% Success

Some of you may be getting bored with my project! But, if not, and if you like the learning process, hey, I am still learning also, so I'm mentioning how I slogged through the process.
My "Gobsmacked Kaleidoscope" is done. I will thank Sheila in Australia for that perfect name.

I used a rayon heavier thread for the swirl-y borders, and a variegated pastel cotton, 50 wt. for the top, which was quilted a LOT with "innies and outies" and "dwirling" ...(hah, guess who has been watching her quilting DVDs a LOT!). I DID go back with invisible thread and stitch in the ditch between the top and the first white border -- it was a little pooched up. My batting is 80/20 blend.

I tried two experiments with this quilt. Since I quilt on a DSM, and this is not a small quilt, I wanted it to really stay together, during the pushing/pulling through my machine harp. It was already spray basted it, and pinned.

Experient #1: Water soluble thread. After sandwiching, I machine sewed long basting stitches with water soluble thread (that thread is white). This worked very well, and this quilt has not even one pucker on the back. I was less stressed when sewing my real quilting stitches, because I knew the basting stitches were holding it well. A spool of that thread is $6.95, 300 yds (kinda expensive but ...) I figured I could do 2 quilts with one spool - yes, I calculated it! LOL

The down side is ... that thread is white, as were parts of my variegated quilting thread. And in these close quarters, sometimes I started quilting/echoing the soluble thread line instead of echoing the previous quilting line. It might be a good idea to use one straight direction for the water soluble thread. While not part of this experiment, note how busy some of that fabric is and I became 'lost' a number of times, needing to do the ole frog stitch! On a DSM, your nose is right down there next to your fabric, and you can't see the whole picture as you can with a long-arm! And, long swoopy lines are not easy.

After a brief washing, the soluble thread is gone, and the quilt is lovely!

Experiment #2 - I tried FUSIBLE thread on the binding. My theory (hey, I heard it on the Internet!) was fusible in the bobbin when sewing on the binding, then when I press the binding to the back, it would fuse itself down, eliminating the pinning project that always sticks me. I would still hand sew it down.

Well, after sewing 12 inches of it down, I had the good sense to give fusing a try ... uh, ouch, burned fingers, turn iron hotter, ouch, dang it, not sticking, hold it on longer, dang it ... well this did not seem worth the trouble so, I finished the binding the traditional way. After a quick wash to dissolve the water soluble ... Uh ohhh ... fusible also does NOT take the place of regular thread -- who knew? I did manage to hand sew that open 12 inches down with no problem. Even DH says he really likes all the puckering. 8-)

BTW, do you know you can use a fabric softener sheet with your hand sewing, and pull your thread through it. Works for me. I've never bought the "Conditioner" ...