Life is good :)

Hello readers!  Due to circumstances out of my control, I have not posted anything because I have not sewn a stitch until yesterday.

The kick off of the new year has been odd.  Many events in my life have occurred in the last 3 weeks that have kind of rocked me to my core.

My mother became ill and had a stroke.  After her being in the hospital for a week and also having  surgery, she will make a full recovery.  Those kind of moments scare the bejesus out of me.  The matriarch of the family, when they get sick, it affects so much.  Because of all that stress and hospital living for my Mother, and Dad being right there at her side, it took a toll on him too.

My mother being in the quilting community had awesome support from her friends in the quilting realm.  Some cooked meals for her, and some came for visits at the hospital which helped break the boring monotony of just being in a hospital.  My Dad enjoyed those visits as well.  I imagine it kept his mind from the stress of my Mother’s illness.  So this is now behind us all.  I would like to send out thanks to all those people who made this whole process a little easier.  Thank you sew much!

Earlier this week I received my yearly review.  This year the company changed up their process and started rating you on the bell curve.  Do any of you remember the bell curve from high school?  You could miss one answer and get a 70% which is failing.  So, after receiving my review which I viewed as unsuccessful, time seems to make things better.  Many of my co-workers who are excellent at what they do also received scores, some below mine.  This was a learning lesson as the message of my review repeatedly said meets or exceeds but I still got a 70%.  Time has calmed the tears and the worries of not being above average like my last review of 94%.  I did agree somewhat with the 70 on one aspect as I do not know all to be known where I work.  This makes room for future growth for my skill set.  So, with those nerves settled, I know life goes on.  Big girl panties on!

And lastly Friday morning on my way to work, I hit a dog with my car.  I suspect I either killed the dog, or severely maimed him.  It broke the plastics on the front of the car and also tore the dirt guards on the underside and in the fender well.  I have paid for insurance on this car now for 5 years, now that policy will payout but the insurance company is still ahead.  Not worried about my car, as that will all work out.  I am just glad I maneuvered the car so as to not get the air bags deployed and not run over the dog with the tires.  Who knows, maybe the dog slowed me down that morning to get me in a better place and saved me from a more severe accident.  Any way, all I can say to that is whew!

So, who is ready for some sewing?  After all these expletives in life !@#$ I can say I am, and finally made that happen yesterday and today.  I started assembling the large En Provence Mystery Quilt Blocks.  They are going together quite fast and accurately too.  I have seven blocks sewn.  It felt so good to turn on the sewing machine and sew with no thought process or effort.  No struggles.  Nice and easy.  Life is good 🙂

epmqblock
I changed the block up a bit.  I like the stair-step symmetry of the light purples being in line no matter which way I turn the block.
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Off Topic

Normally you would see a post here about quilting, sewing, or crafting.  I am going to tell a story about surviving my Father’s cat, while trimming it’s nails.

My dad’s cat is a true cat.  One owner, she owns my dad.  Likes affection from my dad. Only likes others in my dad’s absence if she has not been petted for 12 hours and you bear food.  She is moody.  She resides in the garage to be let out in the mornings to frolic (if a 10 year old cat can frolic) and let back in the garage for the evening to retire to her cat perch.

When my dad is out of town, I am cat sitter.  I am formerly a cat lover but grew out of this phase as you get attached and then they die, go missing, or get hurt.  And because they replicate themselves relatively easy, you can find a replacement whenever you wish.

So today was my day to shine as cat sitter extraordinaire!  Lately this old cat has not wanted to leave the garage.  Mom and dad were unsure why.  They assumed she faired the winner in a dog attack and did not want to risk winning another battle but losing so much energy towards a fight.  Mom also said she thought the cats nails needed to be trimmed.  As that fat cat walks the garage floor you could hear her nails tap the concrete like she was a poodle when walking across the floor.

This persnickety cat likes to only be petted on the head and back.  If you value your skin you learn to not touch her feet or belly.  I am here to say I have survived a toe nail trimming incident.  I held her like a football and with the same side as I was holding her I grabbed her back foot and stretched it to trim the nails.  Apparently my approach may have stretched her hamstrings (do cats have hamstrings?).  She disliked that tremendously and managed to get a good grip on my belly and did scratch me with two of her nails.  So the next wrestling maneuver I tried was to just smoosh her down to the floor and make sure her face was not near mine for biting, as I was now on her level, and I managed to get the other foot trimmed.  This cat is smart.  She will probably forever be mad at me, and like an elephant never forget what I done.  I proceeded to leave the garage and reached down to pet her and she started purring.  I figure I have cured her cabin fever and she will want to frolic in the morning when I arrive and open the door.

I phoned my dad about this, as I have saved the vet from scratches.  I have told him in order for me to do this again he will have to stock up on band-aides.  You see not even my dad can touch her feet, so some kind of cat magic has occurred!

Farm Fresh

With a little boy coming into the world at the end of 2016 (a nice tax deduction and insurance bonus for the parents), I was behind making a quilt for the little tike.  I try to have it done before the child is born.  It just didn’t work out that way this time.  I started last weekend (with a longer weekend because of a snow event).  And finished up late last night.  I still would like to somehow stuff his name with yarn to get it to puff and stand out more and I will have to figure out about the steering wheel of the tractor.  It looks funny without one.

I am naming this quilt Farm Fresh.  We all know that as beautiful as children are, they can create quite a smell for the nostrils so early in life.  So going with a manure farm theme….naming the quilt farm fresh.

tractorstartfarmfreshfarmfresh1farmfresh9farmfresh2farmfresh3farmfresh7farmfresh5farmfresh6farmfresh8

I decided to join

If you are thinking I made a New Year’s resolution, you are incorrect.  I do those things all year long and saving up for one day a year for that, kinda is overwhelming….keeping it simple for me anyhow.  No, I joined a sewing club.  I stuck it out through the whole meeting, and even though the projects these ladies plan for the year are simplistic, I do look forward to a little social time all to myself, if that statement makes any sense.  There will be crochet and hand appliqué which I have zero experience.  It will have take-aways that I can carry with me for the rest of my life.  And the main reason I joined was to network with other quilters in the area.  New faces and new perspectives.  There is a quilt guild and I do look forward to meeting up with these ladies to find out more about that.

The group I joined benefits charities, whether it is sewing dog bandanas for the SPCA or making NICU pillows to prop the un-well babies up to keep them from getting sore.  Project Linus quilts, and pillowcases for cancer (I had never heard of this one, but it is out there).

February will we be having a workshop, an all day sewing even of the Jelly Roll Race quilt.  I have never made one of these either and have two jelly rolls that will easily make a larger quilt that everyone can use in the house, so why not.  I am trying to talk one of my co-workers into coming for the event because she has always wanted to make a quilt and she is a hoot and fun to be around…so win win!

I also learned there is a woman in the group that has a long arm and if you are making a quilt for yourself she will allow you to use her machine at no cost, but out of her generosity the club suggests offering fabric, thread, and/or money.  So, maybe soon I will get to tackle that adventure!

I am finishing up the farm girl vintage tractor baby quilt.  Will be binding that today and/or tomorrow and will post that very soon.  Then hopefully I can get back on track with En Provence work and get that going again.

Not Sew Much

Greetings Quilty Readers!

Not much happening here.  Because I am back to my 40 hour work week after the holidays and been doing it for a couple of weeks, the tiredness returns and when I am not cooking, cleaning, bathing children, commuting, I am trying to truly relax.  I find quilting very relaxing and need to get back onto the Farm Girl Vintage tractor quilt, but I need to keep my reserves going for my family.  The weekend will be here before you know it and I will be humming along with my sewing machine stitching the quilt sandwich.

A few posts ago, I shared a chenille laptop sack I was making which is still uncompleted.  The trimmings left over from this project I quickly made into pot holders with no bias binding just raw edge pot holders.  Pretty crude.  I washed these chenilled pieces and the ugly homespun looks so different than before.  Here are before and after photos.  The only difference is the size the cloth was cut

Here is a good close up of all those fabrics cut on the bias, edges perfectly fringed just by laundering.cupotholderYou can see the homespun plaid, but it is very fuzzy.

I have not worked any of the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt En Provence.  Too many demands are keeping my skills to tired to try.  This weekend I am looking forward to filling my bucket with quilting goodness.  You will see another post this weekend on whatever I have going on the machine.  Seeya soon!

Farm Girl Vintage Tractor

Earlier today I cut out all the pieces for the tractor pattern in the book Farm Girl Vintage.  There is a flaw in the pattern construction.  I am not sure how to explain it to you, but when you sew the two 2 1/2 inch squares to the rear of the tractor (the seat and the block above, you will see the lines in sewing the block together do not line up with other sewing lines in the block.  So it was a weird piecing.  One which takes a weird jog north and then west.  But I managed.  Additionally I really admire how this turned out.  And I will make it again.  I will make sure to collect a few more bread ties for labeling, and ease of sewing the pieces together.

tractorstart
Funny, the smudges on this picture are from the ice on my window and shadowing the picture.

tractor2I will add the smoke from the stack during quilting.  Not sure what I will do for the steering wheel.  Perhaps some interfacing and a satin stitch to accomplish.  Today was a very productive day in my quilting realm.

WIPs in my quilty world

Works in progress, or what us quilters refer to WIPs seem to be a plenty this new year in my quilty world.  I have been commissioned to sew a laptop bag.  I am still waiting on webbing for the strap.  However I took some extreme ugly fabric from my stash (stuff that I will never use on any other project) and made layers for the chenilling process.

So the ugly tan woven fabric is the non-chenilled side.  The floral fabric was pretty but because this is for a guy, I had to bury it in the layers to not be seen.  The turquoise was my most usable piece but had to break up the color associated with the very top, a green, ugly woven.  If you have never done the chenilling process, I recommend trying it once for something small like a scarf.  Sewing parallel lines on a large pieces of fabric gets a little tedious, but with dramatic affect.  You can see the turquoise showing through.  My next post will be of the whole bag completed and washed.  I am curious to see how this one turns out.

The process of chenilling is as follows, a quilt sandwich with additional layers on the top of the quilt.  The bottom layer would be the back, then the batting, and then a layer of fabric that will probably be sight unseen.  And then two or three more layers that are all sewn together  quilted in rows.  Once layers are sewn (quilted), then you use scissors or a cutter as pictured and cut through the top layers.  In my case the layer closest to the batting does not get chenille but acts as a stabilizer.  Also, make sure your cuts are on the bias.  Forgetting this key step can cause your quilt to rag and make a hairball of threads that shed incorrectly ruining the look of the chenilled process.  Above, you can see I snipped through the green homespun and the turquoise.  What you cannot see is there are two more layers, one of the brown floral which is also chenille and then the fabric closest to the batting which was a brown leafy (ugly) cloth which is not pictured.

I have cut and sewn the pieces for the laptop sack, but will reveal that after I have washed the project.  Chenilling can be accomplished by a wire brush or by laundering.  Either way it becomes very soft and lofty.  Waiting for a woven strap for this, so right now it is stalled.  I had started this over thanksgiving, but ran out of thread.  This simple project has been faced with many stalls.

I am still working en provence mystery quilt.  I have some ironing to do on the purple QSTs.  And I still need to make a gob of the yellow QSTs.

I found out while we were on holiday that one of my co-workers had a baby.  I am behind.  I always try to get them the quilt before the baby is born.  This one is a boy and named Axel (not sure of the spelling).  Because he has already arrived I plan on putting his name somewhere on the quilt.  I also am planing on making a single tractor block out of my book Farm Girl Vintage  by Lori Holt.  There are many pieces to this one block.  I have been saving my bread wrappers for this purpose.  I will be using them to identify my fabric cuts.  Some people snip paper and pin to the fabric for nomenclature.  I have put painters tape on the bread wrapper tabs because I do not have a full alpha-numeric quantity.  Here are the colors I have selected for the block.

tractorstart
Funny, the smudges on this picture are from the ice on my window and shadowing the picture.

If you do a block with lots of pieces in your BOM, I recommend a process like this where you can make all your cuts and easily sew your block together.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Have a great day!

Quilt Iron(y)

Happy New Year readers!  I rang in the new year sewing on my Mystery Quilt En Provence, which is not such a mystery anymore.  While sewing and ironing, I ran out of my Faultless spray starch.  Things had shifted the week before in the closet where I put the iron up, and by moving a photo album I uncovered more starch so I did not make a trip to the store.  I used starch in my stash (never thought I would say that).

I sprayed my blocks, and using my trusty Rowenta iron, started ironing as usual.  When the iron hits the starch it outgassed a fresh smell, and for some reason I kept smelling cinnamon.  I pressed on!  Then when I got out a large piece of fabric, the starch spit funny out of the can.  My iron started just dragging on the fabric.  I looked at the bottom of my iron, and it appeared all the starch was sticking to my iron and not staying on the cloth.  And the smell, look like cinnamon was caramelizing on the bottom of my iron.  My first thought, my almost 10 year old iron was crapping out (as it has taken a few tumbles off the iron board).  So I quit using starch and filled my reservoir and used steam instead.  I sprayed a spot on my ironing board to see what would happen on the cloth (not on my precious fabric but on the ironing board cover).  Believe it or not, somehow the starch had oxidized in the can and rusted in the can, so no telling how much rust I spewed onto the cloth I was working with.  The date on the can said 2008…ooops.  I was able to clean the bottom of my Rowenta with my scrub daddy and cold water (after it had cooled off), and the bottom looked brand new again.  However, I found there are spots on the iron that just are not getting hot enough to get the wrinkles out.  My iron is dying a slow death.

In the meantime, after seeing many quilters on youtube videos go back to the old fashioned irons, I thought I would be on the lookout for an oldie (they don’t make them like that anymore).  I found one on Ebay, and it arrived Tuesday.  I plugged it in and turned the setting to cotton, and with no effort it beautifully ironed my QST.  I walked out of the room to get more to iron (as there was a backlog) and when I came back into the room I noticed the iron was turned up (by my roommate who was intrigued by this old new iron) so I turned it back down to cotton (there is a higher temp setting than cotton…who knew).  But, because this iron is old and a huge heat sink, the cool off time is much longer.  I did not know it would not be instant, and I ironed one more block and it singed the neutral a bit.  See the picture below, the bottom center.  There is a hint of browning on the fabric.epmqst

After this, I shut the iron off and made a note to self, that I can actually burn fabric with this new old iron.  I must be vigilant and very careful from now on.  An hour later I went to go put the iron up and because this thing is one huge chunk of metal, it was still hot to the touch.  I had to wait two hours to put it in it’s safe place.  For those of you who have an iron that does not eliminate wrinkles from your fabric without the use of starch, it is time for a new iron.  I recommend buying new used.

I am very excited because I have a new, useful quilters toy—er I mean tool.  If you are looking into buying a new iron, don’t go with sunbeam, black and decker, etcetera.  I recommend spending a few dollars more and getting a Rowenta.  However, make sure the Rowenta you buy is made in Germany.  Big box stores including JoAnn’s have irons made in China and Mexico which usually leak and crap out after a couple of years.  The great iron debate to purchase a new one and pay the extra price tag, or buy a cheap one and replace it in a couple of years.  Either way it is about the same money.

En Provence Reveal

Well, Bonnie Hunter surprised me this morning with the reveal of En Provence.  I am excited that there will be no more clues because this one has been oodles of work in a short period of time.  I learned that I am a more laid back quilter (who has too many other responsibilities to try to keep up).  I am not sure if I will participate again.  If I do, I will probably choose my own color palette.

If you would like to see her quilt, click here.

For the colors I chose, mine will be much brighter.  However my purples are dark, so much that it may be domineering.  Perhaps that is what she was going for and once I get mine all pieced together it will look as if it was meant to be.  Here are blocks from previous weeks laid out in her layout.

ep7I really like the blueish greens I selected.  The quilt is definitely going to be a bright one.  I will work on this a tad making up Fridays clue 6 and starting on clue 7 which is more QSTs and cutting the yellow 3 1/2 inch squares.  I will be working on a number for how many pieces, I am thinking we are near 3,000!  The good thing now  is I don’t have to keep up and can joyously go at my own pace.  I am hoping to see other peoples color schemes with this layout to see how different they look.  Happy Quilting!