Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rainy Day Sewing

What could be better?

Maybe a nice cup of Rain Forest Nut and a purring cat along with the rain. I can't think of many things I'd rather be doing this morning.

With the pictures I took this morning, I may have made a very good argument about getting a new sewing machine.

I love my machine (Viking-Husqvarna Freesia). It's getting old but still sews very nicely. I'm familiar with its quirks and limitations, and it knows mine. I've learned to recognize the sound it makes when the bobbin is almost out, and I love that you don't have to unthread the needle to fill a new bobbin. I'm sure all the newer machines are like this now though. I really, really do want a needle threader though of my next one.

My biggest problem is space, and it's probably not just the machine, although the nice newer machines have large surfaces just for quilting and a bigger space between the needle and the other part. See below. I'm sewing in the dining room now because the sunroom is a little chilly, and it looks messy all the time. But anyway...

When I last mentioned THE quilt, I was a little too optimistic about being almost through. I conveniently forgot about all those little 1/2 inch bindings that had to be top-stiched - 6 of them across the length of the quilt.

If I thought it was hard to top-stich these little panels -

I had just forgotten what manipulations are necessary to feed a whole quilt through the little opening in the machine.

The first row is easy because there is nothing on the right, but as you work down the quilt, all that bulk has to be rolled up to the right. And you still have to guide that foot with both hands.

In this picture, I'm holding the balance of the quilt under my chin so I can have both hand free for feeding it through.

It did make for some interesting contortions and trial-and-error moves.

Maddie has been with me all the way in making this quilt. She likes the bright colors and the sound the machine makes.

She helps with the straightening.

And sometimes she even checks on the tension for me.

So - I did finish all the pink bindings. It sure has grown into a big little quilt.

This closeup shows just how hard it is to keep a straight line along the edge. But I'm happy with it so far.

Now the green side has to be folded, pressed, and stitched down - by hand!

Easy but time-consuming. I have a little of that this morning - time, that is - and a good excuse for another cup of coffee. Vacuuming the floors is not half as much fun, and rain doesn't come often enough to waste it.

The next pictures WILL have the binding on.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Little Progress

After reading back over today's post, I wonder if it's just better not to write anything for days and days or to go on and on about my messy kitchen cabinets. Or the weather. Or sewing.

At least, people who come to see if I'm still alive can be satisfied. (I promise to answer emails soon.)

I didn't set any records for cleaning and straightening today, but when I had some extra time, I sewed - and sewed.

This is where the little quilt is now. Two more rows to join together. It's stressful zig-zagging the rows together and making sure the vertical bars line up. Then you have to turn it over and zig-zag again. I found my shoulders all knotted up a few times.

Tomorrow will be binding day hopefully. The stripe is the fabric I chose to go all the way around the edges. I love putting on bindings. Oh, and I guess I need to make a label too.
My only job on my quest to organize my kitchen was a row of cabinets and drawers - underneath those perfectly straight and clean drawers from yesterday.

So I did this drawer.

Not much to do here - just make new stacks.

I love the deep drawers next to the stove in this house. I have one for pots and pans too and straightened that one too, but I didn't put a picture here because I didn't want anyone to laugh at them.

This is one bottom cabinet that I've never really visited much. One side has baking things - maybe that's why . And pitchers, it seems. I threw away some things from here. Why would I have yeast? I won't mention the expiration date on that.

So it's all ready and waiting in case I get the urge to bake a cake - or something.

AND the biggie.

This neat spice/everything else rack is behind a door in the kitchen, and when I moved in, I just put anything on here that would fit. I think it's time to clean and sort. I'm kind of afraid to look at expiration dates because I may not have anything left when it's over with. If it smells good, I'm keeping it.

We'll see.

And finally --- my buy of the week/month/year (since that's all I've bought except groceries):


I had a fairly new mixer with a cute little stand that stored the beaters, but I kind of killed it before Christmas making cookies. There's that baking again. I kept forgetting to buy another one, but when I was in Wal-Mart the other day I remembered to look for one.

I found 2 portable mixers. One was a Black and Decker one for $19.88 and then there was this humble little thing for - not $8.88 - or even 5.88 - but $2.77! What's Wal-Mart's Blue Light Special? Rollbacks, maybe? If it works at all, it will be fine for that price. Who cares if I burn up the motor in this one?

I also found this in Wal-Mart, but I didn't stand in line for a picture. An hour before it was supposed to be on display, there were at least 100 people waiting for a picture.

Kind of blurred, but that's as close as I could get.

Gaby and Dina, you should ask Mike what this is!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm Back

Back with more exciting day-by-day accounts of my life, witty stories, and outstanding pictures.

Well maybe just back with whatever I can find to record. It gets really hard to find something special in every day, and sometimes I don't. Other times, I do but just don't want to talk about it.

January is a hard month for me. I just don't do well in cold weather. There is this to remind me how spring smells.

I've spent several mornings the past 2 weeks working on Isley's quilt. The fun part is over, and now it's breath-holding time, hoping all those little squares line up enough to put together. Precision is not a word I think of when I think of my "skills," and for that reason I can't believe I like quilting so much. Because it takes it. If your seams are off just a millimeter, you pay for it when you start to put things together.

So first thing I did was join each square with 2 bindings. The pink one on the front I top-stitched with my machine. It's not as easy as it looks. Frankly, it's quite hard to stay right on the edge and not run off. Which I did a few times.

When that was done, I turned it to the other side and stitched the green bindings down. You can't do this on the machine because it would show on the pink side, and no one, even the most precise person, could match those seams. Each one had to be sewed by hand, which is kind of nice, but the hard thing is making each one exactly half an inch.

I finished those this morning and trimmed the edges off top and bottom and placed them on the floor. A miracle! Those green bindings all lined up, at least well enough to satisfy me. There are 4 more rows to go, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed they will come out even too.

When I transferred my pictures from my camera to my computer, I noticed that I had 43pictures. I got kind of excited until I remembered what they were.


On several of the blogs I read, the people have been participating in an organization party-like thing where you link your pictures and show what you've done. There are a lot of them where they've turned a coat closet into an office or a craft closet or something to make good use of it.

I'm not sending in any pictures, but I thought it would be interesting (and keep me on track) if I started in the kitchen and took before and after pictures of the things I organize.

The most logical and needed project was the junk drawer. Here it is in all its glory. Where did all this stuff come from? Why do I always have candles and matches in my junk drawer? Maybe it goes back to the days when the children were home, and I would have to always go buy candles for some occasion. I've probably had these same ones for 10 years or more. And what has been cut with those scissors? Looks like gardening shears. Well maybe I have trimmed a few plants with them.

And after. Amazing what was in there that I don't need. The candles made the cut, but a lot of stuff got tossed or put in their correct places.

Working to the right, the gadget drawers. We don't cook too much or use these things a lot, so I'm not sure how they get into such a mess.

A little crowded but more able to find things. I like to do this because it reminds me of what I do have. In case I need to make melon balls any time soon or baste a turkey. Or cut shortening into flour. Right!

I did a few more drawers and a cabinet, but I'll wait until another day for that.

I'll leave with a few before pictures. I'm amazed at how much empty space I have in this kitchen. The storage is wonderful. I just need to organize it.

Then I can start bringing in fabric and craft supplies to fill the shelves! Like this one.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Last of the Quilting Pictures

I meant to get all the pictures up sooner, but I had a national championship to win first.

Not that I watched the game, of course.

I saw the winning field goal kicked while peeking through a crack in the door. TV sound off. Just part of the screen. When I saw a lot of people in orange and blue jumping and screaming, I figured out we had won.



So on to pretty, less stressful things (to some people).

I was fascinated with these tiny little squares that Julie was making.

It turns out that I have the book that these patterns come from. It's called Underground Railroad. There's a nice story behind it, but I'm not sure of the details. It deals with hiding slaves during the Civil War and using various quilt patterns to convey messages. I'll learn more about it when I have more time.

I love sampler quilts because I get bored with doing the same thing over and over, but in the book I wasn't too thrilled with the way the duller greens, browns, and reds looked. Julie used some exciting colors, and it gave me a whole new perspective on it. Especially done in that small scale. Maybe I'll try it. One day.

I believe Judy did this one. It's the first one I saw completed, and it really brightened up the house.

Joan started - and finished - this quilt in a single day - maybe half a day. One minute she was unfolding the fabric, and in no time she was hanging it on the banister. I love the colors and how the stripes are perfect for the borders.

This was not done at the retreat but is just another example of Joan's talents.

According to Sherry's email:
I am sending a picture of quilt that Joan designed and pieced for the Houston Museum here in Chattanooga. She asked me to quilt it for her. There was a big picture of it and an article in the Sunday paper 2 weeks ago, because it is being auctioned off for the museum in Feb. I didn’t even know it was in the paper until a quilting friend called me and told me “your published in the paper”. David had to go dig the paper out of the trash.

Below are 2 quilts done by Michele. The first is from the pattern "Sweet and Simple," designed by Kathy who owns the quilt shop where Sherry works, Lavender Lime. Kathy was fun to be around, but she was on the road with her job most of the time and just dropped in from time to time. I appreciate her including Debby and me in the retreat.

I saw these blocks being done when I would go back and forth to the ironing board or cutting table. I believe they are quilted by built-in software in her machine.

It wasn't until I saw it all together up close that I realized how beautiful it was.

I love the colors and the fabric, which is maybe a cotton sateen, not the normal quilting cotton we usually see.

I did do a few blocks for Emily's quilt just to try out different combinations. These may or may not work, but at least I've broken the ice and started.

I have made a little progress on Isley's little quilt. I'm in the process of slowly hand sewing all those green binding strips down. Some are folded and pinned but not stitched, some are stitched, and some are not even folded at all. This is the slowest part. It also needs more pressing since being packed away to come home.
The back. Each row will be separated by more of the pink binding strips. Don't think it wasn't tricky to line up the name and make sure the ladybugs were all facing the same way on one side and then turn it over and have those strips meet in a certain pattern.
I can't imagine if I'd tried to match the fabrics.

It still makes me happy.

Speaking of happy - or content, I guess. Stella/Molly disturbed during her morning nap.