Friday, February 3, 2017

    This is a "Throwback Thursday blog post which I am posting on a Friday. Don't hate me for being weird!  I'm editing with just a little addition.
I realize I haven't posted lately and that is because lately quilting has reached the "chore" stage for me so I have to really WANT to be in there and nowhere else. I know I have mentioned my least favorite step is putting on borders. Don't know why--it just is. So the other day as I was measuring and sewing border #1 on a quilt I thought I would share my border measuring technique and how it evolved from that first quilt to today.
     I learned how to quilt using a rotary cutter and quick techniques from the Eleanor Burns books and TV show. For a couple years I watched every week and sewed quite a few quilts from her books. And they all had one thing in common--the borders sucked! They rippled and puckered. Looking back, she had you cut the border the width you want and just sew it on and cut it off. Well, guess what. Side A border might end up a couple inches bigger than side B!  So after a couple "unflat" quilts I tried measuring first. Well, I have never had a large sewing area big enough to lay out the quilt to measure or a measuring tape big enough so that technique left me with pretty much the same results! Then I learned somewhere  to always measure through the middle of the quilt, not the edge, as the edges may be stretched. That was good advice and I stick with that on every quilt. I am adding that I also measure along the edge and then split the difference. This seems to make the perfect length. However I soon realized that I really had no use for a "number" measurement for the border and if you measure the quilt and get a number you then have to measure the border to get the same number and that was a real pain. So I figured out that you can measure with the actual borders. I cut the borders the width I need and I use 2 border pieces (why measure one off the other when you can measure them both the same time--took me a few quilts to realize this!) . I pin them together and pin to one edge at the middle of the quilt. Since I don't have space, I smooth the top and pin every foot or so and keep going to the other edge. If it is a straight edge border, I just cut off even with the second edge of the quilt. A mitered  border is just as easy. Cut the first end bias cut and start pinning to the quilt, with the short edge (the part you actually sew onto the quilt--I can't think of a name for this) at the edge. Measure through the middle and mark the end spot with a pencil or pin to show where to start cutting the second bias cut (making sure to get it going the right way!) Bingo-perfectly sized, matching borders. And a bonus with mitered borders is that you can measure and cut all 4 before you sew--with straight cut borders you have to sew the first 2, press, and measure for the second set.
       Now that they are cut they have to be sewn on. Do not do it Eleanor Burns style and just start sewing! Fold the border in half and mark with a pin. If it's quite long, fold and measure the middle again. Find the middle and quarters of the quilt top also. Pin to the quilt at the ends, match and pin to the middle, and match the quarter measure if you need it. Holding the pinned places I shake a little and smooth and pin as many more times as I think I need. If it appears to need a little easing or stretching adjust between the pins as you sew and do not remove the pins until you are there. The rule of thumb with sewing is to put the larger piece on the bottom as the feed dogs will naturally ease a little, but if you are sewing a quilt top with lots of seams to a plain border you have to have the quilt top on top so you can get all the seams going the right way. As Tim Gunn says "Make it Work". Trust me, you will have a nice smooth top and the parallel borders will match.
     Well, now that I have stalled my border sewing by talking about border sewing I guess I had better go sew a couple borders before Hurricane Sandy hits and we lose power!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sometimes you don't know what you know!

     I'm taking a detour from writing about quilting for a minute. I love a reality competition show--I can't deny it! I was introduced to one called the Great British Sewing Bee.
Home sewers compete to be the best home sewer in Britain. As I'm watching I'm blown away by what these people don't know and they're on the telly!  Zippers? Never done one? Patch pocket? What's that? Silk? Never tried sewing it? Collar? How? I'm feeling very smart right now! I hardly ever sew clothes any more but I must have had a lot of experience in my past lives because these things are as common to me as 1/4" seams, stitch-in-the ditch, applique, and all the quilting techniques we use every day.
      Thought I'd share one of my more recent garment projects. It was a cosplay costume for Emma. She designed it and I had to alter and change a pattern to get the right look. Turned out pretty cool. She says the character is called Grell and honestly that's all I know!
Houndstooth vest and giant red trenchcoat. Wish I had
 a picture of the back of the coat. It has a huge pleat
and a giant black bow.

The entire get-up complete with chain saw made
by Emma.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

My latest quilt project didn't involve any sewing but it's pretty cool anyway

I just wanted to share my latest addition to my quilting "stuff". My dad and I made a portable ironing board/cutting board. I got the idea in a shop in Vermont,but I like mine better because of the cutting board. It was quite a project. My 83 year old dad isn't as with it as he used to be! I got the unique fabric at Hattie's Quilt Shop in Spokane with my cousins, Cathy and Dawn. Looks like this will be my souvenir from my summer vacation.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Mini Adventure comes to an end

    When you live alone you just have to make your own fun. If you don't you end up old, cranky, and unhappy and I have no intention of doing that! So I create my own fun!
    Last week I had to go up to Burlington,VT to pick up Emma after her trip to Japan. I decided to go up Weds. afternoon, spend Thursday visiting quilt shops, and come back Friday afternoon (Oh, and pick up Emma somewhere in there.)
     On Weds. night I decided I was going to try different things so I went to a Vietnamese restaurant. I have no idea what this dish was called, but it was just chicken, steak, onions, lemongrass, and hot peppers. It was a different flavor, and looks pretty disgusting, but I ate every bite!

The next day I started at a shop I'd never been to before in Colchester, called Sunny Laurel Sisters. I was driving there and discovered an area I never knew existed up there. The village of Colchester is on Malletts Bay on Lake Champlain. I turned a corner and caught my first view of the water and teared up. I didn't realize I was so homesick for Cd'A lake until I saw the water! The shop was great and was my favorite of the day. The owner was really nice and I liked her collection of fabrics. I spent a bit there!  After I shopped I stopped at the Dick Mazza General Store. General Stores in Vermont are great places to pick up a picnic. A lot of them have delis or prepared food that are fresh and delicious. I picked up a snack and took it to this overlook for a picnic.

My next stop was the Yankee Pride Quilts in Essex Junction. I've been there a few times before. It has a different vibe than the others. I have to describe it as "old". The fabrics haven't changed, the set-up hasn't changed, the old ladies working there haven't changed. It is a more traditional shop. But I like old so of course I spent money there also!
Next shop was in Shelburne. The shop was next door to the Shelburne Country store so I was excited to visit both of them. I picked up some fun fabric and also some gifts for my parents so it was a winner! 
     That evening I picked up Emma and her friend Glynnis and we headed to Church Street for dinner. They wanted pizza BAD so we went to the good pizza place downtown. Only downside was the parking ticket I got because we couldn't figure out the fancy credit card meter. Oh well....
    Next day we had lunch at the Athens diner. I love diners and diner food. This one was Greek so I had a great gyro.Then we headed back out to Malletts Bay to the fabric store. I wanted fabric to make a messenger bag for myself and the building fabric is it. Then we picked up one of the most delicious apple pies I ever had. This will be a repeat visit for sure!
I have an almost obsession with text fabrics. Love them!
It was a fun mini adventure and I really enjoyed myself. Sadly, next year is Emma's senior year so there are only 2 more trips up there to look forward to.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Is it OK to mourn your sewing machine?

      I'm sitting here feeling kind of lost at the moment. My Bernina had a bad weekend and is in the shop for a while. I was free motion quilting and it started whistling. Not good. I googled "whistling sewing machine" and the best suggestion was to oil it. Well, Bernina users know that isn't possible except around the bobbin area so that's what I did. I took it apart, cleaned any visible lint and put a drop of oil. I ran the machine to spread the oil (that's what you're supposed to do) and then realized the thread had sucked in and was wrapped around the drive shaft thingy many many times. It was impossible to get it out. I ran it to see what would happen and now it whistles and clunks. So I had to stop immediately.
     To  make it worse I do have another machine that has been stored in Mitch's basement. Over the years I have looked for it and can't find it! Mitch is looking now also. But even if I do find it I will have to replace the foot pedal. It's electronic and has a problem--it has two speeds, off and zoom!
      There is another machine in my house. Emma's grandma gave it to her when she tried sewing but I tried to use it and it doesn't work. It's old and appears the major gear is shot so it is going bye-bye.
      And I may as well mention my Coeur d'Alene machine. It was a great machine and I'd use it when I was there. Last summer I packed up a project to work on and went to get the machine and it wasn't there. Mom said, "I must have given it away". Really?!!!! She has no memory of where my $500 machine went without asking me!
      I sent out an SOS to my quilt guild and a couple other friends and did get a referral to a guy who will come to your home but since I have been a very bad girl and haven't had it serviced in more years than I am willing to admit I felt it needed to go to the actual Bernina service center. That place is BUSY and it could be 2 weeks! I'm in mourning and wondering what to do with all my free time. I guess that binding will get done, huh? Or maybe I'll get more embroidery done on my crazy quilt? Or, heaven forbid, I might clean the house? (Nah...) or the crafting room?  So at the moment I sit and blog and pout. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day and the machine will get fixed sooner rather than later! I have a deadline looming...

Sunday, April 10, 2016


I just got home from an interesting Sunday afternoon activity. The owner of the Aurofil thread company was in town for a presentation at Emma's Quilt Cupboard. I'm a sucker for anything that teaches how something is  made so I loved the video showing the factory and every step of the process. I will never take thread for granted again! I am definitely not a thread snob unless I am doing a decorative technique. I love my variegated threads for machine quilting and my fine threads for some machine quilting, but now I am wanting to upgrade! The trunk show of beautiful projects was so inspiring. I am briefly coveting an embroidery machine or longarm. Plus we all left with a sample pack of each weight of thread and a color card so now I will be dreaming of threads. Something tells me Aurofil will be on my wish list next Christmas!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

You never know where inspiration will come from.

Nov. 15,2015 (That's the date  I started this entry).
#1 Diagonal
      You never know where inspiration will come from. The other day I was awakened at 6:25 by the phone. It was a town emergency call about a lost wandering elderly woman in my part of town. The call interrupted a strange dream in which I was designing a quilt. I woke up and immediately drew a diagram of the quilt I had dreamed up so I wouldn't forget it. My idea was a "rainbow" effect using different sampler blocks.  I have spent the week making a huge mess of a rainbow of colors of fabrics. I have dug into every tote, strip, triangle and square storage box digging out just the little pieces I need. This project has been a fun diversion from the other projects that were heading into "Boring Land".
       It is now four months later to the day (3-15-16). Many other projects have been started and finished, there are new UFO piles for later and I finally finished the blocks for this one. When I started I cut all the pieces for each block and pinned them together to sew later. I got to the end and had 2 yellow/yellow-orange blocks left over with no idea how they were supposed to go together! I took them to a Social night and had the girls play with them and they all threw up their hands too. Next morning I was brushing my teeth and BINGO a lightbulb went off. I ran out and drew the diagrams of the two blocks I came up with and got them sewn later in the day.
     Now I can't figure out which layout I like best. My original "dream" was basically a rainbow from yellow to green. Then I started playing around and can't decide so I took pictures of a few layouts and now I'm asking for opinions. So this is a plea for help from my talented quilter friends.
(For the life of me I can't figure out how to place the pictures in a logical arrangement!)
#2 Double yellow Diagonal
#3 Rotated, blues center
#6 straight rainbow

#4 Rotated. yellow middle
#5 Rotated red middle