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Whisp of a mundane life?

Today’s entry is not quilting.  No pattern, no stitches, no machines.  I’m taking a quick breath while I finish my morning coffee and our home sits under the clouds of a morning rain.

Sometimes we get caught up in the day to day activity of surviving.   Occasionally there is an opportunity to       pause     , and rest, like you would at the top of a long hard climb.

When I get winded, journaling is one way that I do that.  I happened across a journal entry that I spontaneously decided to write last year when I was sitting on an airplane that was boarded but held waiting for takeoff.  Grammar or any comments of “why” put aside,  it represented my mundane life at that moment.  I was leaving Kansas City on a business trip.   The best description I have for how I felt was “Calm” like I had just let out a deep breath after a scurried race through madness.

Here is what I wrote:

“We sit on the runway, the lights blinking yellow out the second-row window.  I sit middle sit in a capacity plane.  We roll on the tarmac, with the roar of the engines, toward San Diego.  A destination of respite after a half a week of antiquated equipment issues and developmental product delivery schedule issues.  A haze hangs over the city, still green, despite a summer in the Midwest.  The landscape is a puzzle of suburban sprawl and rural charm, fields breaking the horizon until we lift unto the clouds, pure wisps of moisture.

I sit writing, on a whim of fancy, while attempting to muffle the buzzing drone of the engines.  
My neighbors are quiet, one from a weeks work on recycling equipment, headed home to Tiauna, the other immersed in a novel.”
The entry had no purpose, no moral, no decision to make.  Months later, the words take me back.    Do you ever re-read old journal entries?  How do they make you feel?
Well,  the pause is over.  Back to living!
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Of Peas (and Carrots)

Did you know that if you google (yes, I’m using it as a verb…) “Peas and Carrots Poem”, you get about 352,000 results?   I’m not even sure how many page loads one would have to endure to get to the one that was at the bottom of the list.

The first page of the search results in a plethora of poetry and I was surprised to see that most of them were about love!  I guess I never paid much attention to the pairing in the past, and certainly didn’t think that the next block I chose to make from Farmgirl vintage was a thing you could find in the “Urban Dictionary”!  However,  if it means “goes well together”, then it is aptly named!   I really love this block and had fun pulling the perfect shades from my stash.

 

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Farmgirl Vintage: Peas and Carrots

 

I think I should design a quilt block called “Pickles and Ice Cream”?   As long as you eat the pickle first, the ice cream might still work out!

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Make Them Mini

I mentioned in a previous post, Winter Stargazing, that I will be working on Tiny Dresden Seasonal Series by Susan Marth of Suzn Quilts.   January’s pattern is a Dresden Snowflake. The pattern calls for hand applique and hand embroidery.

My mom and I are both making these.  She is doing them (mostly) by hand, so I decided to mix it up a bit and try to do some “special” machine applique using my embroidery machine.

(This won’t be image heavy.)

First, I used some fusible web to attach the mini dresden, center circle, and 1/2″ circles to my background.    Then I went a little crazy.  Instead of stitching them down with a blanket or decorative stitch (because those 1/2″ circles scared me), I decided to try to machine embroidery them down.

How?

Using a VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner, I scanned in my block.  This was very dicey.  I tried several times before I got something I thought was usable.

– The first time, I tried to do it like you would a piece of paper.  However, when the scanner hit the applique, the “bump” caused distortion in the captured image.
– My solution was to raise the scanner above the fabric using plastic templates or rulers on each side.  This helped me capture the image of the fabric assembly well.
(I wish I would have kept all of those terrible images, so you would see what I mean!)

The ruler on the edge of my photograph served a second purpose! It gave the image scale.

The next step was to import the image to my digitizing software as background.  For this round, I used Art & Stitch, software that I typically use for digitizing quilt designs.    Using the image of the block in the background, I scaled it up so that the ruler matched my design grid that was set to a specific dimension.   I created the stitching outline, converted it to stitches and saved it as an embroidery file.

Now to my embroidery machine.  After hooping the block, I was able to scan the block in the hoop with my sewing machine.  I opened my embroidery file and attempted to position the embroidery pattern to match the appliqued block.  This did not go well.  They didn’t quite match. I could never get my edges to match all the way around.  With a few adjustments, I was able to imperfectly stitch the snowflake down.

What is the saying, “Finished is better than perfect”.   I could probably apply that here!

I can think of so many things I would do differently the next time, one being, consider stitching it down by hand!

What did I learn?

I might work with the vupoint some more and either figure out a way to export a full-scale image or add in a ruler scale for both the x & y axis.

What was my goal?

I am really hoping to figure out a way to scan in applique on quilts I have loaded on my longarm to allow me to easily crop those areas out when doing computerized quilt layout.  It might work if I am not stitching all the way up to the edge of the design!

Do I get any extra credit for effort?  

I finished the block off with some machine embroidery text similar to the pattern style and then quilted it with some snowflakes (a challenge I might discuss later).  The buttons in the pattern add a little extra detail.  I love them (and sewed them by hand – but only because they were too small for my machine!).

Have any of you had luck with scanning quilt blocks?  How do you do it?
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Make them mini! It’s fun!

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Sight Unseen

It is nice when the results of a sight unseen risk come out as you expected.  There were some who thought from my earlier photos of my new featherweight project, that the machine looked great the way it is.  However, upon arrival in West Virginia, my suspicions from the poor eBay photographs were corroborated, and then some.   The finish of this 1937 beauty does indeed need some work, and the original decals are at least 1/3 missing.  She is a perfect candidate for a makeover!

True to many auction listings, the possible water damage and extent of decals missing were under described.  It’s not a hot mess, but not very collectible as-is.

This is what the listing said:
“1937 Singer 221 Featherweight Sewing Machine with case and pedal. Very nice condition with wear consistent with age and normal use. Tested and operates perfectly. Bobbin case intact (sometimes they are missing). No other attachments present. Case has wear consistent with being used and moved around. Handle has been taped with electrical tape but is still attached to top strongly. Work light works. Some of the gold trim printing is worn off from use. Belt has minor use wear but still in very good condition. Motor runs freely and strong. I will ship as cheaply as possible.”

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If she really operates perfectly, then all will be well.  If she doesn’t, then I will fix it.  When I am 80 years old, I can only hope I fare so well!

I think she will be out for delivery for stripping, maintenance, and refinishing this week.  My new waterslide metallic decals arrived from keelersales.com and I have decided on a color.  It isn’t exactly a hot rod, but as close as I have ever come!  This 2000 Ford Ranger was my very first “new car”.  Since then I have driven a station wagon and a minivan.  Sigh.  I think that I need to remedy this.   An old curvy Jaguar with silver racing stripes would look great in this metallic green color too! (Hey, a girl can dream…)

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My brand new truck – Spring 2000 before I graduated from college

I have a picture in my head about what the 1937 will look like all decked out in green metallic with silver Celtic knot decals and all of her original shiny chrome.

But, what shall I name her?

If I’m lucky I will ger her back before June when I attend the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival.  (If not, I’ll borrow Mom’s machine and treat it to a spa day.)  I signed up for a Nova Montgomery Singer Featherweight Maintenance Class.  I thought this would be great to guide me through maintenance of the machines, help me maintain my machines health and be a great resource for my mother, friends, and family who own these machines.

The tulips in this photo give promise of spring, though winter won’t be over until March 20th here!  Our biggest snow might be yet to come! My ankle is doing really well, so…

LET IT SNOW!

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A Feathered Journey Begins

My new toy is traveling today!

Funny story anyone?

My fun friend Teresa, who I met at Quilting Elevated last year, was going to bid on a featherweight at an auction in West Virginia last Sunday.  She is an auctioneer and knows how auctions work.  I felt good about letting her spend my money.   Saturday night I get a call… ” I bought you a machine! (I hope you’re not mad…)”.  Now, I was momentarily confused since the auction wasn’t until Sunday.   However, never underestimate a friend.  I had mentioned the type of the machine I was most interested in and given her bidding limit guidelines.  She ran with it and probably saved me some dough ( and a very long drive for her) by finding said model on an Ebay auction without a 10% buyers fee.   So far so good.  We have a tracking number!

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This 1937 beauty is making a grand tour from Daly City in Sunny California (home of the Cow Palace just south of San Fransico) to Buckhannon, West Virginia and then finally to my home in Overland Park, Kansas.Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 6.10.20 PM.jpgScreen Shot 2017-01-24 at 6.38.00 PM.png

WARNING:  IF YOU ARE A PURIST… Read no more today.

This little machine is going to travel about 3,550 miles before I ever get to touch it, and I can hardly wait.   The machine appears to have some wear to the decals, and some finish scuffing on the neck, and may need some foot pedal cable work.   It’s hard to see defects from the Ebay photographs.  My friend knows someone that is great at helping to give some TLC and hot rod old machines, and I hope to hire him!  Cleanup, Tune Up, Strip Down, and Refinish & Decal.  It reminds me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz before they have an audience!  I also plan to figure out how to restore the case, which is in less than stellar condition… Stay tuned.

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Can you imagine the fun we would all have if they made a reality show restoring and “hot rodding” vintage sewing machines!  I bet mechanics, machine artists and wild quilty ladies involved with all of the curvy, chromed machines of the past could be a hoot.  The machines would become showpieces of the future.  Computerized, plastic machine cases may never be collectible like the older machines.  They aren’t pretty, just very functional.  Once the circuit boards are aged, they may just take up space.  They don’t make sewing machines like they used to, and electronics are sometimes harder to repair.   Don’t get me wrong.  I love computerization.  But I am very psyched about my new, old toy!

I wish I could go to WV and help with the process of stripping it down and refinishing it.

Do you have a hot rod in your collection?
Comment and tell me about it.

Safe Travels!

 

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Winter Stargazing

Stargazing in winter might seem ideal as you have more uninterrupted viewing hours.  However, shivering in a Kansas field doesn’t sound like best way to take in the stars.  I prefer to quilt! At least that hobby keeps us warm in the 60 degree winters…

Was anyone else part of the warm spell last week?  My kids were running around outside in sweatshirts complaining that they were hot.  Sigh.  It didn’t stay warm, so they are back inside, bouncing off the walls and each other.  We had to declare a moment of silence this evening for our sanity.

Last weekend was so productive!  Since the kids were enjoying an unseasonably warm day and my husband was working on a project, I was able to quilt.
(Pepper helped.)
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Making up for lost time I managed to longarm a Minecraft quilt for the school auction, create a log cabin paper piece pattern for my friend, and finish a few small blocks and projects.  I’m saving some of the other projects for later posts, so no pics, but you can see the Winter Star block from the Farmgirl Vintage book.

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One thing great about the Farmgirl patterns is that you rarely work with bias.  Take the star point for instance.  Instead of cutting parallelogram pieces on the bias, you start with a rectangle and sew two squares on, similar to creating quick half square triangles.    The bias is never exposed, so your block stays nice and squared up.   I love this!

If you only sew the desired line, you end up with triangle waste on each end.  However, if you are tricky you could create smaller half square triangle blocks for your next scrappy quilt by making a second seam line 1/2″ away from the first, and trim between the two stitch lines.  I really should do this more often!  They might be handy in scrappy or mini quilts.

I said no pictures, but I’d better share this mini that I finished from a BOM club my Mom has gifted me.  🙂  Prairie Point Quilt and Fabric Shop has a fun Tiny Dresden BOM program that started this month.  The pattern is for hand applique dresden with embroidered sayings.  Of course, I love my machines, so tried to figure out how to beautifully finish this mini using a scanner, custom digitizing and embroidery, and longarm quilting. Alas, the buttons were too small, so I had to hand stitch those on!   In February, I will give a run down on how my experiment worked and what I would do differently next time.

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Hattie’s Trick

Hattie’s Trick blocks from the Two Sister Sampler are complete,  “Just In Time”  (JIT).  That has been a fad in manufacturing for years!  Since I don’t actually need a new top to quilt yet, I delayed the completion so that this top is completed when I DO need something to quilt!  (Do you buy that?)

Hattie’s trick is another layout using half square triangles.  I feel like I have made a lot of these this year.   Mine are four colors, with three values.

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Annemarie Chany , Author of Sister Sampler Quilts, used two-tone blocks .  I like them better that way.  The quilt looks great! This kind of block would be easy to setup in EQ7 to try out different color and fabric combinations.  I might try it with some of the other blocks from this series.

I’ve been busy in my quilt lab for the last couple of weeks, and have some more finishes ready to trickle out.  Some are quilts, and others are small projects.   I’m keeping this post short so that I can work on them!

What’s in my queue of finishes?

  • Falling Charms and Scalloped Edges with Bias Binding
  • Falling Flakes Mini – Minus the Hand Stitching
  • Valentines Mini Quilt
  • Quick Curve- Urban Runner
  • More Minecraft
  • Curve it Up – Topside Reveal
  • Star Trek Zipper Quilt
  • Chocolate Bunnies
  • ?  Will I get to teach my first class?
    ?  Will I get lucky and find myself a “hot rod” machine project?
  • And more…  I wouldn’t want to be bored!

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Be Happy! It’s a choice.

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A Table Well Set

Happy New Year!  We decided not to procrastinate and started our new a little early.  Something sweet found itself under our tree on Christmas Eve (as I hinted to earlier)… Pepper, a 5 1/2 lb, 5 month old dilute calico adopted our family on Christmas Eve.

I was a little nervous, as I have never lived with a cat.  So far, she is so stinking sweet, we should have called her Sugar. The little quilt lover made herself right at home with us.

I have managed to get back to my quilt lab to put finishing touches on some projects, and move others that direction.

My first finish is gift of some new wheelchair arm bags, and a mini-quilt frame with quilt. They make their way to my Grandmother in St. Louis later this month.  She is a Cardinal baseball fan.   It’s hard to tell, but the background of the paper-pieced bird is quilted with baseballs.   (Shhh. Don’t tell.  I used “artistic license” on the paper piecing and used fabric marker to create the black detailing.  Those pieces were just too small…)img_9839

Another finish is decorating my table with my Children’s wish for snow.  I set the table for leftovers tonight! Indian Food. Yum. I really like the way these four blocks turned out.  The blocks were from a row-by-row kit I bought a couple of summers ago.  I turned them on point, added narrow sashing, and set them with a batik background and border.  (Never underestimate the possibilities!) The quilting was done with a pattern called “Jessica’s snowflake” by Nancy Haacke, Wasatch Quilting.  I loved the description on the pattern;

“Jessica’s snowflakes originated when Jessica wanted snowflakes on her quilt that were structured with six sides, as she learned in her molecular studies class, that real snowflakes always have six sides!  True story.”      

img_0179Well,  Jessica IS correct! If anyone is a geek like me, or even if you aren’t, look it up and brush up on these crystalline beauties!  Any snowflake with other than sixfold symmetry, is an impostor!  Check out this fun science article from Jon Hamilton on NPR, All Things Considered, “What’s Wrong With This Snowflake?”.

I completed the scientifically correct ensemble with some embroidered hemstitch napkins decorated with an ombré  style embroidery design from Urban Threads, called “Let it Snow”.  If you are into embroidery, check them out each month for a new freebie! This month’s is for pet lovers.

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Note:  All Christmas Lego & crafting chaos has been ingeniously hidden outside of the  camera field of view! 

I don’t have any more finishes to share, but did load and begin quilting my April Showers, Falling Charms quilt, and cut the pieces for a new Quick Curve table runner.   My New Year’s Resolution is to put together at least one quilt class this year.  I plan to combine all of the tips and tricks I have learned on the curve-it-up quilt, and share those with others!  Who knows, if you aren’t already an expert, maybe I will see you in class!

Have a Healthy, Happy New Year!

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Simply Stuffed

Well,  I have still not recovered (from my shock of a clean home)!  Thank you for those who  sent me guidance and encouragement regarding my ankle injury.  It was very welcome, and was inspiring.  Four weeks into my ankle confinement, I realize that my family took on my injury as an invitation to get even more done that usual.  No, I haven’t quilted much, but we have done so much more!

  • We have a clean house with a plan to keep it that way while I work full time and quilt!
  • My daughter won second place with her team in mathletics and finished her science experiment for her school science project.
  • Our son figured out how to practice for spelling tests, and may have a “A” coming our way.   I think we are turning a corner, but he may be sick.  He asked me to buy him a black suit.  He is 8.   Should I be worried?  (We did buy him that suit.  He picked it himself, and looks awesome!  He will be a heartbreaker, auburn hair and all.)
  • My husband decided it was time to finish all of those random house fixes that we haven’t had time for, and I mean all! He has really worked hard.  During our holiday, I hope he will be able to enjoy himself!  It will be well earned.   I’ll have to stuff his stocking with something extra nice.
  • My Christmas preparations are finished, thanks to online shopping, USPS, UPS, Fedex, my Mom and Dad, and that nifty knee scooter that helped me go the distance! My kids wanted to decorate it with candy cane stripes.  Maybe I should have let them.

So what am I doing with my “free” time?  Well, a couple of weekends ago, I had a stocking sew & stuff party planned.  My Aunt Penny sent stocking goodies, and my mom, daughter, and son helped quilt, sew, and stuff 11 stockings.  We had a few more people planned, but life happened, and they couldn’t join us.   The stockings are for some teens in our area that could use a little cheer, and I think they will enjoy them!

So, how do you make 11 stocking in a short period of time?  Here is my method, and I think I might have to use it on some even more delicious fabric next year.  New project?  Do you think my kids will let me change ours out?

 (I had grand plans of having a full tutorial here, but will edit this post later to show some photos.  I might have my hands full for the short term…   We are adopting today, and I have decided that I am very excited! No… not a human, but it should be fun!
Can you guess?  
Comment with your guesses and I will share some fun Christmas Stories this week!)

How to make simple quilted Christmas stockings:

  1. Draw a stocking shape in the size that you want on wrapping paper.  Psst…. That awesome thick paper with grids on the back works great for pattern making!  If you are a costco member, you can buy it in the giant rolls at Christmas time.
    Remember, the final will be 1/2″ smaller due to seam allowances.  I will usuall draw my shape, then add a 1/4″ all around.
  2. Pick an outer fabric & a lining fabric.
  3. Pick a cuff fabric.
  4. Cut your cuffs to be twice as wide and twice as tall as you want your actual cuff to be.
    – Measure width of stocking opening.  (Say it is 7″, and you want it 5″ tall.)
  5. Pick a batting that will not shrink a lot if washed. (A poly blend might be good.)
  6. Make the quilt  sandwich and quilt the fabric.  I used a longarm, but this could be easily done on adomestic machine as well.  A walking foot helps with shifting.  If you use a domestic, baste your layers together with basting spray.  I love using 505. I don’t have issues with gumming my needles.
  7. Trace your stocking shape onto the quilted fabric.
    **Remember, to get front and back, you will need to trace 2, one facing one direction, and one facing the other.img_9669
    From a yard of directional print 42″ fabric, I was generally able to get at least four stockings.
  8. Cut out your stocking shapes.
    Pinking shears can help any tight corners you have.
  9. Place your stocking shapes, right side together.
  10. Stitch 1/4″ around, all but the opening.
    *Serge edges if you are worried about fraying.
  11. Create your cuff by pressing short side to short side, right sides together.
  12.  Stitch the short side.
  13. Now, turn your cuff so that the right side shows on both sides.
  14. Place the cuff over the wrong side out stocking.  If you want a hang loop, insert  & pin it between the cuff and the stocking with th loop facing down (or toward the foot), Sew the cuff with unfinished edges matching around the top of the stocking.
  15. No turn everything and fold your cuff over.
  16. You are finished!

Happy Christmas Eve
&
Stuff Your Stockings with Joy

 

 

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Deck The Halls

If my children had their way, the tree would have been up before Thanksgiving.  However, not only is it tradition to wait until we have digested some of the Thanksgiving turkey to haul the tree out, (yes, we go the artificial route), I was making them wait for MY extra special holiday treat.

I had my house professionally cleaned!

Now, before you judge me, I had the perfect excuse; a broken ankle.
My husband took my children out into the Black Friday madness (and the playground).

I cannot begin to describe the feeling that I had when I came up from my sewing room after the crew was completed.

Whoa Nelly. Be still my heart.  It sparkled.  It shined.  There wasn’t a chore to be done (all right, except laundry).  It was the best thing I have ever done, hands down.  I am certain my house hasn’t been this clean in years! (I also found it funny to watch my husband walk around and inspect our house in awe… There is hope for my family yet!)

My house is clean, AND I was sewing while it happened! Since they did a much better job  than me (er…us?), maybe WE can keep them…  Like this post if you vote yes!

All of the clean was too much for my hooligans to handle, so that evening, they were determined to put up the tree.  They wanted to put up our garland on the banister too, but I have nixed that this year so that I have a good hand hold. (I was instantly dubbed the grinch…)

We let them put up the tree.  I mostly watched this year.  My daughter, the aspiring decorator took charge.  Remember the tree skirt?   She couldn’t wait to put it on, and it ended up being the perfect size for our tree.  The results make me so happy! Well done girl.

I think that tree is already short a couple of peppermint sticks.

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Next weekend a group of ladies from my Fabric Stashers group on Facebook will be getting together to make stockings for a local group in need.  It is certain to be a great time.  Sewing, Treats, Christmas Music, and Friends!

DECK YOUR HALLS!