More Sewing – This time in a non-quilting way.

Well, I think it has happened to all of us.  You are typing along and you save and it’s all going well.  Then you go back a few days later to make some revisions and while making those revisions the whole thing disappears.  Yep, you guessed it.  I was working on another entry and when I went to insert some pictures it just up and disappeared.  You can bet that next time I’ll be making doubly sure that things are saved, probably in a couple of different places.

Now I’ll quit whining and get on to the sewing part.

I have to confess that I haven’t really sewn since retreat.  I know, I can hear you gasping all the way over here.  I would love to claim that I find time to sew every day (I wish!) the truth is that I don’t.  I won’t start whining about not being able to sew more because this is just where my life is at this point.  Most of my day is spent helping my small blonde boy learn new things and have fun and cleaning (probably my least favorite part – and please don’t think that  I’m keeping an immaculate house over here.  It is more of an attempt to unbury the house).  However, keeping in line with my previous admission of needing an embroidery machine I have started to sew said small blonde boy some pajamas.  I found what I hoped was a simple pattern and gave Inez a call that I was in need of learning how to use her serger as well as how to construct said pajamas.  I would have inflicted Hattie with my need for lessons in serging and clothing construction if she lived just a little closer to me.  I believe that she is thanking her lucky stars that she was able to bypass that.  As it stands to date I haven’t done too badly.  I started with one pair of pajamas and then (of course) it turned into 5.   This is pretty par for the course for me.  I have a tendency to jump in with both feet and without looking.

Back to the pajamas.  Of course I had to pick directional prints so I needed to buy extra.  I even had enough extra that I could not only make the shirt and shorts but also long pants.  It has been interesting for to learn this go around.  Of course this is not the first time that I have attempted clothing construction.  I would like to say that previous attempts went well, but that isn’t exactly true.  I made my dear husband a pair of sleeping shorts and it didn’t dawn on me until after they were complete that the palm trees are upside down.  Being the dear he is, he tells me that when he is wearing them he can look down and see them right side up.  I also put in too much elastic so they are not a terribly good fit.  I also attempted to make pullovers using fleece.  Somehow I made a mistake and they ended up being too small.  You can’t haven on anything other than a light weight t-shirt for these pullovers.  I have to say one of the best things about this go around (aside from how much better these seem to be going) is that my small person is so excited to try on those shirts and pants/shorts.  I felt bad that they weren’t finished enough to let him go on wearing them.

Here you can see the fabrics I’m working with.

  Fun aren’t they?  I know you are now counting them and only seeing four and this is where I tell you that there is another dinosaur one that for some reason didn’t make it into the photo.  I probably should admit that I have picked up a 6th fabric, something in Star Wars, especially since the others aren’t complete yet.

Anyway, I also learned how to do a blind hem and use one of those special feet for my machine!    See, I even have proof!  There I am working on a blind hem.  If you are looking for some good instructions on how to do the same, check here.  There are some great pictures and a nice step by step guide to help you along.  She does a great job of making it really easy (or maybe I’m just ready to move on to learning this stuff that it all makes sense).

  Here are some of the shirts as I was putting the ribbing in them.  (Pssst….you can also see that other dinosaur fabric that didn’t make it into the other picture).  I will confess that putting the ribbing in did not go as well as I had hoped.  I think Inez is going to have to give me another lesson in how to finish these collars.

In the meantime I’m going to have to make another trip for more elastic so I can actually finish the pants and shorts.  For now he is just running around in the shirts and that makes my heart happy because he is so excited by them.  I will confess that it has been about 3 weeks since I started them but I do have everything hemmed and 3 of the shirts are usable.  I really just need to do the elastic casings and get more elastic.  Maybe this weekend.  At least that is what I’m hoping for.

The Power of Design

I’ll bet you are thinking that I found some moving picture of a totally gorgeous quilt that I had to comment on.  Nope, I’m going in a completely different direction.  Besides, what I find to be completely moving you might not be as interested in.

What I want to talk about is the act of design itself.  Such as in EQ (Electric Quilt) or Quilt Pro (if you are a Mac user like me).  Design is powerful.  We can walk through quilt shows and find some totally amazing designs (and color placement – let’s face it sometimes it is the color placement that really  makes something speak to us) that inspire and wow us to go home and try our very best with the project we are working on.  Sometimes we are even so inspired to try to find the same pattern the quilt artist used and give it a go ourselves.

We have programs available that enable us to come up with our own stellar creations.  Perhaps even modify some our favorite traditional blocks into something completely different.  There is a bit of danger with these programs.  It is so easy to sit down and start designing and having a “finished” product at the end that we turn our creativity on high and open the gate to let our imagination out and then next thing you know it’s 1 o’clock in the morning and you have designed 15 quilts and not touched one thread of fabric.  Then you start to obsess, “if I just move this one line I wonder what would happen…”.  It’s definitely a hazard and one that they don’t warn you about on the cover and they really should.  WARNING: Playing with this program is so much fun that you may just forget about making real quilts out of fabric.  Or maybe, WARNING:  Be sure you have a set of new ink cartridges on hand because you will run out of that color you need after all the stores have closed and it’s too far to Wal-Mart to justify a trip for one ink cartridge.  If you have played with these programs, you know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t, please keep the above warnings in mind as you consider whether or not your quilting would benefit from having such a program at your disposal.  Oh, I should also add, WARNING: If you have an obsessive type of personality you should not use this program without supervision as you will forget to eat and use the restroom.

I have now decided that Pinterest is the same.  You can get so lost in pinning pictures of those fabulous fabric creations that you don’t make it to your stash (or local quilt store) for patterns or fabric.  It should come with warnings as well.  WARNING: You will find more stuff than you will ever make so get up from your computer and go outside to enjoy life.  My favorite would be: WARNING: You will not need to visit other websites to find cool stuff to pin, you can roost on Pinterest all day finding plenty of inspiration while repinning other people’s pins.  You should also heed the warning about making sure your printer ink is fully stocked.

There is no doubt about it – design is powerful.  We can see it at work in the composition of photos and paintings as well as color choices and placement in quilts.  Our houses will never look like the ones in magazines and we may never have a quilt juried in for the show in Paducah (although I’ve not given up that dream just yet).  Programs and websites like these can be very useful tools to help our inner artist as it yearns to put on paper the how-to of that dream quilt floating around in our minds.  Just don’t let yourself get so caught up in the element of design that you neglect the actual creation.  They do look great on paper, but seeing them live (and of course larger than 8.5 x 11) is so much more powerful.  Not to mention the process we go through to bring these creations to life.

Of course I have some examples! Here are some quilts I photographed at MQS.  I do not have the quilter/piecer’s information but they are most definitely not mine.  They are beautifully designed (in my opinion) and inspiring.

That should hold you for a little while.

Do I really?

This is where I will admit my insanity.  It’s not like I don’t have enough to do and of course I would like to add more to my ever-expanding to-do list.  I know you are thinking, what now? And what really do you have going on since you haven’t been writing entertaining posts for us to enjoy?  Well, I’ll be happy to tell you.

I need an embroidery machine.  Yep, and I just made fun of Inez for thinking this very same thought not quite a year ago.  After all her pile of things to do runs very close to mine.

Let me take a moment to share a little more about myself.  I live in an old home that needs a gazillion things done plus my husband and I are (unfortunately) pack rats.  I may have mentioned that a time or two before.  I recently became a stay-at-home mom for our small blonde son (who is 3) and have tried very hard to be on a kick to get rid of our clutter.  We have made numerous trips to Goodwill to donate and yet it still seems like there is more and more stuff that we don’t need.  I have a friend who is a Garage Sale Queen and has graciously allowed me to bring some of my excess there to make a little cash on.  Which has really been nice.  Now I am stock piling everything I’m finding so I can slap a price tag on it and drag it back to her house in another month for her next sale.  The most glorious thing is that she will have 2 more sales and after her last one, everything else will be heading over to Goodwill.  That should make a serious dent in our pack rat ways.  I am also a Disney-aholic.  Certified.  Bona-fide.  Much to my husband’s chagrin small blonde is following along in my footsteps regarding Disney.

While perusing my favorite online community for ideas to make our next trip even more fun I hit on a group of sewers who were doing some amazing things.  I mean, stuff I would never even dream of trying to do, only now I am.  I haven even gone so far as to convince Inez to show me how to use her serger so I can start making clothes for the small blonde.  I bought patterns at Joann‘s and some fabric and I am raring to go!  Inez might not be as raring as I am, but I think I’m ready to take this step in my sewing education.

As far as my lovely quilting projects go, I have totally run out of steam.  At the beginning of this year I was getting so much done and I was so motivated to get so much more done and now, eh.  I did work some more on that gorgeous fused applique flower from Quilt Poetry.  However, I am a total genius when it comes to this fusible stuff and I kept the iron too hot and on some parts too long and it evaporated the glue on a good portion of some of the pieces.  So, now instead of fusing the rest of it down I am going to have to start sewing it down and I haven’t even picked out the thread to match the fabrics yet.  I’m a bit disappointed with myself and have kinda put it off to the side but I can’t leave it there terribly long as all the rest of the pieces are good to go and I don’t want the paper to start peeling off the glue/fabric since that is where everything is labeled and numbered.  If that happened I would be totally out of luck and would have to start this whole project over and that would be a real waste of batiks.  I’m a better quilter than that.  So, it will now be a really arduous journey for me to get the leaf sections sewed down before I can lay out the flower top.  I just have to put on my big girl pants and get it done.

So, if any of you are addicted to your embroidery machine  and would care to share your recommendations here, I am all ears!

Happy Sewing!

The last of the retreat fun!

But first I wanted to share with you the latest thing that I have learned.  Part of my days have been spent doing loads of de-cluttering and I also started to lay some stick-on adhesive floor in one of the alcoves in the attic.  Of course I am an independent woman (which for me translates to stubbornly tries to do everything herself before asking for help.    Please note that “independent” does not translate this way for every woman) and figured I could do it all myself.  So, I laid the first piece.  I should probably mention that our bedroom is in the attic and I’m turning this alcove into a reading nook. After putting down the first piece I remembered that I would have to cut subsequent pieces not only to fit but also so that they would be staggered and have a more natural look (well, as natural as it can been when it is a wood looking vinyl stick on floor).  That is when the lightbulb went off in my head.  I have a rotary cutter down stairs and really, that acts very similar to an exacto-knife plus I have a small mat and ruler that I could use to make sure my lines were straight.  How much of a genius am I?  I did manage to lay just over 30 square feet in under 2 hours which did amaze my husband but he was not as impressed with  my ingenuity as I was anticipating.  That was a little disappointing.  I’m sharing here in a blatant attempt to soothe my ego.  Enough about me, on to the rest of the retreat hilarity!

Hattie brought her demented dulcimer to retreat again (per our popular request) and we harangued her until she got it out to practice.    Inez, upon seeing Hattie preparing to practice, announced that she looked like a leprechaun on vacation in Hawaii.

Pardon me as I backtrack a little bit to the quilt show we visited.  I almost forgot to mention that Sandra Dee was acting as a wingman (wingwoman?) for Hattie although we were quick to mention that many of the men we would be seeing there were probably married but Sandra Dee carried out her task as best she could even to the point of preparing to ask the one man we saw at the show whether he had a brother.

Back at the building M was subjected, once again, to teaching Sandra Dee and Hazel the finer points of paper piecing.    Please notice the camera and note pad that Hazel has with her.  They were both trying really hard to get it right.  After all they both bought those paper pieced patterns on our first shopping trip.  Here you can see Sandra Dee with her finished product.  It was a huge success!

We alway s like to give Hattie a hard time because she naps a lot and isn’t as productive as say, Blanche.  This retreat she totally out-did herself.  She cut the arm off of a sweater (wool, I believe) and sewed one end closed to make a sleeve for her Kindle.  Here she is showing it off at show-and-tell.  Considering Hattie brings her dulcimer, spinning wheel, sewing machine table and fabric, Blanche felt the need to ask her why do you bring so much stuff with you don’t do anything?  Now that I think about it, we never did get an answer. In case you were wondering if she really brought a spinning wheel, I do have photographic evidence.  Here it is in all it’s glory.  I think we are all secretly jealous that she has one and can spin her own yard and yet at the same time have no idea when we would even fit in the time to learn the craft.

Hazel and Sandra Dee left us early and we were a bit emptier without them.  However, Hazel did manage to get a great start on one of her projects.  All together they spell, “Give Thanks” or something like that .  You can find the project in on of the Art to Heart books by Nancy Halvorsen.  She has some of the cutest stuff.  Be sure to check her out if you haven’t seen her work before.

Inez had a rather large project ahead of her.  Her husband’s nice was graduating from seminary and it is tradition that a banner is made and incorporates elements from their home church and the verse the class selected to represent them.  It is rather unlike Inez to work only on one project while at retreat and I think it was driving her a little stir crazy.    Here is a peek at the beginnings of the project.  Inez opted to also do a lot with the quilting to help pull some elements together like quilting in the pipes from their church’s pipe organ in brown border.  However the best part were the grapes.   Here are the ever so lovely grapes in their “pincushion” stage.  Inez was doing this with the machine applique method.   Here they are nicely pressed down and we weren’t sure that we got them in “exactly” the same order they were in during the pincushion stage.   Here is Inez saying she doesn’t want any more of those stinkin’ grapes.  Or maybe she was telling me not to take her picture.  Let’s go with no more stinkin’ grapes.

Grease night was almost a bust this time around because we couldn’t figure out how to work the television and dvd player.  I know that doesn’t sound like something that should stump 20-some quilters, but it did.  You would think that they would leave some instructions (since we’ve asked for them) or replace the remote for the dvd player (since we’ve asked for that too) but no such luck for us and we are left to fend for ourselves and we almost lost the battle.  Every retreat we say we should figure out the tv on the first day and every time we leave it until the last-minute.  We don’t really do much tv watching out there even though we  bring lots of movies (okay, I bring lots of movies just in case).  This time I think we had 4 or 5 people working on trying to get it to work and it took a man, namely my husband when he came out to visit with the small blonde, to get it all figured out.  I’m hoping that we can replicate it in the fall.

I think that almost wraps up our retreat fun from this time.  However, I will leave you with a comment that was heard from the other room, “I’m not going to poo in it to see what happens”.  I should leave you some context as well.  S in the other room was drafting a cloth diaper pattern and making samples of said cloth diapers.  Hopefully she was able to get it all worked out.