Friday, May 31, 2013

Lucy's All Better - June Goals

I wasn't sure where to take Lucy, so I googled to find a local Janome service provider, and came up with Triangle Sewing Centre.  It's just a few blocks from where I live, and just across the street from the local quilt shop.  WOW!  SO MUCH EYE CANDY!!!  

I dropped Lucy onto the serviceman's table, explained what she was doing.  He explained that there was a problem with a circuit board in the foot pedal itself, and I would need to replace the foot pedal, and he had a suitable replacement in stock!  Terrific!  

The shop is PACKED with so much to see - - the most batiks I'd ever seen, so many quilting books, threads, notions.  I'll have to go back someday soon to have a more thorough look.  I asked about local long arm quilters, and the ladies gave me a couple of business cards and brochures, and made some personal recommendations.  I also asked about a special notion that I had heard about, but couldn't think of the name, and one of the staff knew exactly what I was talking about.

Little Genie Magic Bobbin Washers - I've read some reviews about this product, and hope that I'll experience some improvement in my own FMQ.  

"These slick space age washers eliminate the backlash in the bobbin when changing directions at high speed. Backlash creates "birds nests"in free-motion quilting and embroidery. Just drop a LITTLE GENIE in the bobbin case, replace the bobbin and you're good to go!. Fits all domestic machines. Designed by author, teacher and award winning quilter Sharon Schamber. Package of 12. Tough and long-lasting."

I find that if my stitch speed is too slow, I don't get nicely rounded curves, but if my stitch speed is too fast, the bobbin thread drags on the back, and looks terrible.

I'm a little alarmed at the price.  I paid $13 (Canadian) for a package of 12 little plastic discs.  Seems sort of inflated - but if it works, I'll retract any complaint about price - they will be worth every penny.  I'll report back.

I took some time to give Lucy some TLC last night - a thorough wipe down, cleaned all the lint out of her, a drip of oil, and a needle change.  She's sweetly humming along, and I gave her a test drive:

I-13 Sweet Harmony

June Goals

1. Well, now that I've gotten Dear Jane back on my mind, and recognized that I have so very few blocks left to do, I will finish one block a week for the month of June.

2. Continue keeping up with Grandmother's Choice Block of the Week.  There's only 10 weeks left of blocks, but because there is 5 Saturdays in June - that means five blocks

3. Sampler Pillows - complete piecing, quilt, and finish.

4. Pick a quilt top - ANY quilt top and FINISH IT!  For months I've been saying I would be finishing "Heart of the Home" - but have yet to make any actual moves to do so.  Enough!  I'm not sure what's holding me back, so I'm committing to choose any of the MANY flimsies in the pile and make it into a real finished quilt.  If it happens to be "Heart of the Home"...well, all the better.

5. Pull out one of my "pre-cut" quilt kits, and start it as a Leader & Ender project.  I need to have something to slip under my needle while I'm piecing Dear Jane blocks.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What's Wrong, Lucy?

My main sewing machine Lucy is acting up.  I think she's possessed.  Sometimes she just doesn't stop sewing when I lift my foot off the pedal.  This has been going on for a while, and when it first began, I just tapped the foot pedal, and it stopped.  The demon is getting angry.  Last night, if it kept stitching, and I tapped the foot pedal, it would GO CRAZY!!! And sew a zillion stitches at warp speed!  I had to switch off the power button.  This morning, I was sitting next to the machine doing some cutting, and the needle started going up and down...slowly...menacingly...

So as soon as I finish this post, I'm taking poor old Lucy in for service.  Thankfully I have a spare machine.

RS11 - Hills of Jersulem (not 'squared' up yet)

I spent a bit of time this morning going through my Dear Jane blocks, and realized I had a few more done than I indicated last night.  I now only have 32 to make, and 13 of them are pink - not so bad!  There are however 4 that I'd like to remake - but for now I'm not counting those.  I enjoyed fussy cutting and sewing this one this morning.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Snuck in a Dear Jane block

I was emailing with another quilty blogger/DJ enthusiast last night, and it reminded me that if I continued to chip away at this project, I could maybe finish this thing!  Even if I just did one block a week, I would soon be assembling the blocks together.

My Dear Jane is in pink and grey Civil War repros.  I wish I had done it all pink, because I find the grey soooo boring, and I easily have 10 times the choices of pinks in my stash.

M4 - Stepping Stones

Yeah, I know.  I used two different prints.  I ran out of one.  Dammit.

TR: 5, 9, 10, 13
RS: 4, 6, 10, 11, 13
BR: 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13
LS: 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12
G-6, 12
L-6, 10
M-3, 6, 8


So holidays are half over for me.  It's freaking me out.  I love, love, love my job.  But my office-mate, who I have been shacked up with for nearly two years, is leaving us to take another job.  I went in to the office this afternoon for a staff meeting, a final presentation from Stacey (on rent control of all things!), and then a little farewell party. She had left an envelope tucked into my keyboard, and I told her I wasn't opening it until she was gone for sure.  It was a big, messy, emotional afternoon, and I'm sure reading her goodbye note would have ended up in "ugly cry".

To add insult in injustice injury, her replacement has been chosen, and is supposed to be starting on Monday, although that's still up in the air - and it's a HIM!  I know I sound like a whiny  sexist, suck.  But it's bad enough that I have to lose my Stacey,  now I have to share a tiny office with a BOY!!!!!  I can't take it!!!!

He's probably the same age as my sons...I'll have to teach him all of my old lady-isms, horrify him with my menopausal symptoms, ensure he understands that I need a regular intake of cookies (so he should just keep some in his desk at all times), and get him up to a minimum tolerance level for my frequent inappropriateness.

I have a feeling that I would have asked totally different interview questions...

1. "LOL Cats" or "Ugliest Tattoos"?
2. Define "room temperature" both qualitatively and quantitatively.
3. On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you?
4. How do I rate as an interviewer?
5. Will you make me a tuna sandwich?

WIP Wednesday

...and every other day that ends in "Y"

I've been working away at the pillows using the cross stitched samplers.  I need to piece another back and then figure out how I want to quilt them.

I've been enjoying my week off - - Itty Bitty took me for a ride to the local quilt store yesterday so I could pick up a bottle of Best Press (mine has gone missing - I wonder what he did with it? hmmm..)  Of course I couldn't leave with just one purchase, so I did a little stash enhancement - it was on sale!  What can I say?  The top print and the three pieces of Kona were all remnants, and three of the FQ's were in the sale bin.  The only fabric I paid full price for was the pink Japanese print of sewing notions.  Itty Bitty made me buy it!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Quilty Mystery

My yard sale find of the week - this has got to be someone's family heirloom, mistakenly donated to a charity fund raiser. 

This antique quilt block is poorly wrought - not an example of a masterpiece - so I was anxious to get it home and see if I could find out more about it.  

I carefully sliced the paper off the back of the frame and...nothing!

UGH!  Obviously framed by an archivist: the block was tacked to linen with careful cross stitches, double matted to allow space between the fabric and the glass, custom frame (though now dinged up).

(see the little red cross stitches on the red solid, and white cross stitches on the muslin?)

This had to have been very important to someone at some time.  I'm so sad that there wasn't more information - this mystery will never be solved!

I don't recognize the block - anyone know the name?  It reminds me of a Maple Leaf, something very Canadian about it, eh?

Working on Some UFOs

I bought a couple of embroidered samplers at a yard sale about four years ago.  I've been planning to make these into pillows.  I actually have already purchased two 12" x 18" oblong pillow forms - just needed some inspiration.  I love that both stitcheries are the same size, and both have houses on them.  The linen fabric is slightly different, and the red-roofed house was stitched on pre-printed pattern by an inexperienced seamstress. I don't think I bought these together -- I think it was two different yard sales.

I had set aside a shoebox full of Thimbleberries-type fabrics for just such inspiration to arrive - - but changed my mind.  Instead, I'm diving into the bags of CW repro scraps.

First - frame them into a "useable" size:

Next - piece some small versions of traditional blocks. 

I've drafted out a basic plan for the patchwork


Last week's BOW was "Nonsense".  I haven't done this week's block yet.  I don't like it - but I'll come up with a replacement block.  I think there was something wonky with the measurements on this one.  I had to get creative with piecing the centre part - notice how the centre square sort of  "floats"?  Maybe if it was cut a quarter inch bigger it would have worked out better.  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mod Dresden Plate - another finish for today

I'm tickled with the binding - it was a scrap cut off from a backing and tossed into one of the baggies of scraps I bought yesterday.  It is THE perfect fabric to finish I think!

I pieced the little mug mat pictured above last night using a handful of coordinating scraps - a la 15 Minutes of Play.  Even the little bit of ricrac was a scrap from one of the scrap bags I bought at Quilter's Nine Patch!  

Some Slow Sunday Stitching

I finished this pillow this morning - hand stitching the binding down.  Another small project is in the wings. I sewed together a quick mug mat last night, and just need to sew the binding down.  I'll post a photo when it's done.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

This boy has a death wish...

The war is not over yet...

First there was THIS, then there was THIS....

He's taken it to a whole. notha. level...

His keys.  His wallet.  On my hand quilted pillow top.  I am thinking about turning his bed into a pin cushion.

I pieced this pillow together using scraps from scrap bags I purchased at Quilter's Nine Patch in Elmira.  The front design comes from Sherri McConnell's "A Quilting Life".  It's a great book!  The back is just something I cobbled together.

I treated myself to a package of those Clover Wonder Clips a little while ago, but just opened the package today.  I like them!  

I got them at Michaels - they come in packages of 50 too.  (Get a coupon!)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Thrifty Find - What do I do with these???

I had a little time on Monday afternoon to visit a local thrift store, and found a little sandwich baggie with vintage hand pieced Grandmother's Fan blocks.

Those look like genuine feed sack prints to me!

Bubblegum pink quarter circles...

...and hand stitched seams.  These are no where near that standard 1/4" we expect to see today.

I had a thrifted pink cotton shirt in my stash that is soooooo close to that same bubble gum pink.  It was a small shirt, so I had to piece some of the background blocks together.  I fused the blocks to the background, simply because I don't expect those teeny seams, and old thread to hold together.  Then I used a tiny blanket stitch around the edges of the fan blades.

Thirteen blocks.  These blocks are 6.5" (unfinished).  I have no idea what I'm going to do with these...a miniature quilt?  A doll quilt?  A pillow?  I intend to trim the blocks down a bit to remove some of the solid colour and let the prints sing out a little louder.

Dangerous territory....

He did it again...

There have been some ongoing skirmishes regarding Itty Bitty's encroachment of my sewing space.  Just look at THAT!  He's just lucky that I didn't slice his jeans up into 2.5" strips.

I spent the whole day yesterday coughing...and coughing...and coughing.  Colleagues diagnosed me with walking pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and whooping cough.  I was annoyed - particularly at the FABULOUS seminar I attended yesterday on Somatic Experiencing of Trauma.  I am sure everyone seated around me wanted to kill me.

I had a dreadful night - maybe a full four hours total - coughing, and congestion, and aches and pains.  This morning I awoke with laryngitis.  So I'm staying home.  I was supposed to go to Toronto today to attend a work related workshop that I've been looking forward to for two months!!!

So, before I headed back to bed, I decided to do a little sewing.

Hand quilting done on this pillow front:

And pieced together a back with scraps.

I don't have anything left for binding...I'll have to dig deep in the stash to find something suitable.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Fixed it!

Seems I added a 1/4" seam allowance when I didn't really need it.  Hmm.  Oh well.  I've got it basted down, and need to hand stitch it to the background.  The colours are kinda wonky in this photo.

The design comes from the second book that I bought this past weekend.

by Sherri McConnell, who you may know better from her popular blog A Quilting Life.

I also pieced this pillow top tonight, another project from this book.  I've got it spray basted together, and the edges stay stitched.  The quilting lines are marked, and I'm going to HAND QUILT!!!  Haven't done it in several years, and I'm looking forward to it!

If you haven't seen this book, tell your guild librarians to buy a copy, suggest it to your public library, and put it on your 'wish list'.  I can't say why I like it so much - I generally prefer more complicated projects - but I enjoy the photography and nostalgic feel of the designs, and got a kick out of reading about Sherri's family's quilting heritage.  There's two totes and a baby quilt that I'd like to make as well....aaaand maybe two more pillows!

All of the print fabrics came out of scrap bags that I purchased at Quilter's Nine Patch on Saturday.  Good stuff!

What the heck did I do wrong???

I was so anxious to come home after work today to piece this Dresden Plate together.  Seems like I might have misread the instructions...imagine how big it would be if I had pressed the seams!  I'm not impressed.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Another finish today! (or two)

First up:  this week's Grandmother's Choice BOW Nameless Star.  The photo is a little fuzzy, but I'm happy with it.  I used  fabrics that I bought in Elmira yesterday.

I also finished the matching pillow to go with the one I put the final touches to yesterday.

One of the books I treated myself to yesterday was 

by Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  You might know her better from the Bumble Beans Inc blog.  I started reading this today, and I'm very excited to try out some of the challenges, and perhaps even committing to 15 minutes of play everyday!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day

Today turned out to be a great early Mother's Day for me. It could have been a couple of degrees warmer, but at least it was dry.

The three of us struck out early this morning for town wide yard sales in Heidelberg.  Just like last week, we were in Mennonite country, but this week, we were SMACK DAB CENTRE of Mennonite Country!  It was interesting parking roadside with horses and wagons front and back!  We had to be careful not to step into 'road apples' as we walked through the neighbourhoods of modern subdivisions.  No remarkable finds this week - - a few goodies though.  Itty Bitty got a bookshelf -- something he's been looking for for a couple of weeks.  I got some quilting books, some embroidery transfers, a few odds and ends.

Then we went to the St. Jacob's Farmers' Market.  All the years we've been regular visitors to St. Jacob's, this was our first visit to the market.  After browsing around, and picking up some fruit and veggies, we headed into St. Jacob's proper, and Itty Bitty treated us to an early Mother's Day lunch at the Stone Crock.  

The men patiently waited while I visited Reichards Quilt Store.  It was busy, and all the fabric was 25% off - - and then I realized it was a Shop Hop!  RATS!  I missed it!  Oh well, I had a bit of a mini-shop hop anyway, because on the way home we stopped at a quilt store in Elmira that I had never visited before: Quilter's Nine Patch.  OH MY!  I'm going to become a regular visitor.  I came out with a bag full of goodies!!!

Tonight I did some quilting, and finished one of my pillows.  I used my walking foot for the first time ever -- had to get out my instruction book to figure it out!  I'm hoping to finish the partner to this one tomorrow!

And here's a photo of the new borders on Virginia Bound. I used my Dear Jane ruler to cut the string blocks.  I feel like I want to do one more border...hmmmmmmm.  Or maybe dark binding will be enough.  Any thoughts?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Computer Issues

I've been a little on the quiet side...

My laptop is on the fritz.  It works just fine, but the screen is completely black.  Itty Bitty has hooked it up to  Hubby's desktop monitor, but it is completely inconvenient.

Beautiful weather!  Finally, spring!  The three of us went to a town-wide yard sale in Mannheim (near Kitchener) yesterday.  I expected I might find lots of quilty goodness in Mennonite country, but alas, it wasn't to be.  I did see lots of quilt-themed art, and plenty of scrapbook/stamping supplies, but not much else I was interested in.  

One great find though!  A new office chair for my sewing room for $5!!!  It's fully adjustable, and in good condition.  I had been using a dining room chair up to now, and I was afraid it was going to soon get wobbly from skooching it back and forth from where I cut to where I sew.  

I also picked up a supply of journals for a ridiculous cheap price - - now when I suggest to clients that journalling might be a good strategy for them, I can offer to give them a journal at the same time.

I pieced together a new border for Virginia Bound - I'll post photos when I get them on.  I have to "unsew" the original border first!