Friday, December 25, 2015

Peace on Earth

Dawn: December 25, 2015.  Frannie barked until I got out of bed and came downstairs.  Then she promptly curled up on the sofa.   The sky morphed as the sun rose spreading reds and grays in real time.  It was like a movie.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


I have been sewing out in the loft for much of the week. (VACATION)  We have had mild temperatures here in the Leatherstocking Region of NY but I still lit a fire every day.  When the CARS panel was approved by the DS for the DGD I moved inside because I wanted to test out the 15-91 in FMQ (Free Motion Quilting).  Today I just wanted to work some more on the Log Cabin scrappy quilt. 

When I was a kid I was never rewarded for my chores.  I did get an allowance, but the work was expected and never tied to the allowance.   My sister cleaned the living room and I cleaned the bathrooms.  We both had to do dishes and help with dinner at times.  Today, as I was trying to motivate myself to do some domestic chores, I wished that I could pay myself every time I did something productive.  Five bucks for the laundry, ten bucks for the vacuuming, one hundred bucks for cleaning the bathrooms.  Somehow, it wasn't working out.  The money is mine anyway and thinking about doing double the work for the same money didn't wash.

Instead, I decided that I would work a little, sew a little.  Every time I accomplished a chore, I could spend that much time sewing.  I set the ironing board up next to the sewing machine, at just the right height.  The smallest cutting mat, my little iron and many scraps created a cozy little corner. 

Steven was out paddling with his buddies.  After I walked the dogs, I washed one set of slip covers, vacuumed one rug, put away some laundry, mended the dog seat cover for the car, and decided it was time to sew. 
I put four blocks together and decided that I wanted to see how they looked.  I stapled some batting to the wall in the quilting room and pinned the blocks up.

I made two more just as Steven arrived home. 

"Oh you got home before I could clean up the mess!"

"It's a happy mess."  How right he is. 
The short daylight hours shut me down early.  I had hoped to get ten blocks done today; I just couldn't. Six will have to do.  The house is still a mess, even worse because one couch is all torn up.  The slip covers dry in their own time. I did tidy up my cozy corner, just to have some collateral for when it is time to sew again. 
Dinner time and Happy Hour.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


 Taking a break from scraps today.  Sweet little panel I found at the Quilt zoo.  I had the backing fabric.  Now all I must do if find a car that goes


 I love this 15-91.  I hadn't switched it out with the 201-2 in this #42 cabinet before because the foot controller from the 201-2 was wired directly to the machine.  I re-wired the foot controller today to a three way (STOP) so that I can easily change machines.

Once upon a time I thought that my machine of choice, if I had to choose only one, would be the 201-2.  I may change my mind.  This 15-91 is very quiet and it has been my experience that 15-91s are truly close to industrial strength.

Too Many Steps

I saw this  pattern in a magazine at Betsy's house (actually in her bathroom.  You Know.)

It is perfect for scraps and I love to use up scraps.

The instructions advise cutting strips 1 3/4 inches wide.  I cut many.  The quilt is foundation paper pieced and I didn't realize that until I read further.  I trekked off to Office Max and invested 11 cents a copy ( X120).  I didn't check the copies against the original though that was recommended in the pattern instructions.

I made the first block and found that it was a bit shy on the edges.  The finished block measures 6 1/2 inches mine was off by a good bit, but enough to be absorbed in the seam allowance.

I found a ruler that was marked with a 3/16 line and decided to use that.  I told Betsy I had started on the quilt, that I was using up my scraps and that she could use up hers on this too, but I knew that she wouldn't  Too Many Steps.  Betsy hates that.

The first step is to copy the pattern.  I think paper piecing, if the pattern is the correct size, provides a more accurate block in the end.  Alternatively, cutting the strips larger would work.

I did trim the pattern to a 7 inch square.  I tried using the full 8.5 X 11 but it was too cumbersome. 

The next step is to cut two small squares, I made mine 1 3/4 by 2, which isn't really square but allows for adequate seam allowance when trimming. One square is dark and the other is light.  I pressed mine right sides together.

I made a funky light box from a sewing machine base and a sewing machine light I had kicking around in the shop. Place the pattern FACE DOWN on the light box and glue (elmer's glue stick works fine and is washable) the WRONG side of the dark square to the #1 block on the pattern.  I pressed this after I had it positioned to set the glue.

Flip the pattern over and stitch along the line between 1 and 2. The directions recommend that you sew a few stitches beyond the line but I stopped right on the line for block 3 and back stitched.

Then I folded along the stitched line and trimmed the seam.
Using a piece of cardboard, I folded along seam 3 and trimmed that seam if needed.

Next I pressed the pieces open

 Then I selected a dark color for #3 and trimmed it so it was just longer than 1 and 2
Pressed it in place (no glue needed)
and stitched. along line 3.

This process was repeated for the remaining strips.  Nine in all.

I trimmed the blocks and started to position them according to the picture.  I had a terrible time.   I had to use the camera to actually seem the pattern.  I thought I had it here

 but when I looked through the camera realized I was off

So far this is what I have:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Not the Real Mccoy

Somewhere in my DNA is Scottish blood, but I wouldn't claim to be a real Scottsperson.  It is too far back.  Nor am I thrifty by nature.  Even so, I hate waste.  It takes a lot of effort, but I like using up my scraps.   I have a stash of strips and love to make the scrappy strip block (see here for previous post).  

The other day, after our trip to the vet( check up and shots only), I had a few minutes to sew.  Wrigley thought it was  a fine idea, too.  This was always Wilson's spot on the couch but he never put his head over the back to check out what I was doing.   He always seemed content to just be where ever it was that I was. Wrigley is more demonstrative and independent.  He will bound across the yard when I call, but lie contentedly in the sun if he wants to be in the yard.   I miss Wilson, deeply.  Wrigley and Frannie have my heart, too.  Lucky me to have them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Even though my ironing board is a big one (TWSS) I still need more ironing room.  I saw a big, rectangular ironing board at the The Quilt Zoo last week.

"Oh I NEED one of these!"

"Yup, two by four sheet of plywood, two layers of batting and some muslin," advised Bonnie.  "When the muslin wears out, just put on a new piece."

I got to it yesterday.  Steven has a collection of scrap wood and we rummaged through to find just the right piece.

"I think half inch plywood will be strong enough." I said, eyeing a very nice specimen of  1/2 inch interior grade AC plywood.

"Okey doke." replied Steven as he set up the saw horses and hauled out the circular saw. I trekked back upstairs to continue cutting up scraps. 

Only a few minutes later I heard the door to the loft open.  "I need you to come check this out."

That lovely piece of plywood was warped.  "I don't think you will want to use it.  The 5/8 inch of CDX  (which had knots on both sides) is much straighter."

He had to re-glue one edge but within an hour it was ready.

I have some Insul Brite  batting.  I have had it for years.  I keep thinking I might make pot holders or lunch bags one day.  Originally I bought it to make insulated shades but decided to go with  Warm Windows instead.  Even as I pulled the Insul Brite  out of the cabinet I hesitated.  What if I really do get to those pot holders?  Oh shut up, my more sensible self chimed in, it's been fifteen years.

So I cut the piece to fit, stapled it to the board with the shiny side toward the wood not knowing if it makes a difference or not.
I added a piece of batting next and then picked out some canvas from my stash.  I don't have any muslin and I figured canvas would last a bit longer anyway.

I serged all the edges of the canvas and wrapped it around the board.  I made a hem to slip over the nose of the ironing board.  Then I used some vintage ironing board "stays" to secure the canvas to the board.  Since they run under the actual ironing board, they serve a dual purpose.

 I love it. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Far from finished, the quilt came off the frame this morning.

Maybe I will go to the Quilt Zoo and hang out there while I do all the hand work.  I knotted some threads and pulled them into the batting while the quilt was still on the frame.  Sitting with friends, this quilt on my lap, seems like a much better idea.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Upside Down

I did it.  I had a bit of a glitch when I realized that I hadn't advanced the quilt far enough on the frame.  I eased it forward, though, needle still in the quilt, and managed to complete the upside down feather.  I will fix that mistake when I come around with the pebbles.  If you see faint green in the center of the feather, you are seeing chalk dust.  It will come out.  I am not sure that the glob of oily lint that fell from the needle bar will.  I always clean everything before I start but that may have been caught in the last thread guide.  AKKKK.


Friday, November 20, 2015


I dunno.  I thought that maybe I would have energy to quilt last weekend.  It is usually so therapeutic.  Instead I went through the photos on my computer, cleaning out thousands of sewing machine photos and  grouping the dog photos into three albums.  Sunday I took Frannie for a ride in the car.  She loves that.  Wrigley hates the car.  He stood at the window.  I know that dogs don't think the way human do.  I couldn't help anthropomorphizing:  I wanted to reassure him that I would bring her back to him.

Indeed I did.  He was happy to see us.  It was also dinner time when we returned.  He was happy to eat.

On Wednesday I finally got down to the business of stitching out the corners of the quilt.   I made some registration marks and went to it.
I did fairly well with the large feather in the middle.  But when I started quilting the one on the left, my brain farted.  Instead of quilting the feather with the bump back method, I started with the hook method creating a most bizarre looking feather.  I did better on the right side.  The pebbles are ok, I imagine I will get better with time. 

It is quite tedious, as you can imagine.  All those pebbles, over and over again.  White on white is hard to see and I never attained a decent rhythm.

I took a break.  The dogs and I walked up to the top of the hill.  We hadn't been able to do that in weeks.  We took Wilson's bell along and I jingled it all the way.  Frannie found some deer poop to eat and Wrigley joined right in.  Dogs.

When we got back, I had intended to only stitch out the feathers on the other side but went right into the pebble stitching. The middle feather is smaller.  I don't like that.  Sucks to be me.  I am not picking out thousands of tiny stitches.  I prefer to use Non stitch regulation when I am Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).  I have an easier time with the tension. But sometimes the stitches are quite tiny.

I will need to make these feathers upside down on the next two corners.  I have been imagining that in my minds eye.  Believe me I will practice on the white board first.  It doesn't have to be perfect but it shouldn't look like shit, either.

I must now decide how I will quilt the center.  
 The borders surrounding the Celtic applique require no more than stitch in the ditch.  AKKKK!  Diagonal SID.  Poor me.  I would like the Celtic knot to stand out but I do not want to do more pebbles.  Echoing may be the way to go. 

Friday, November 13, 2015


Now I am at another design decision point.  I must figure out what to quilt in the large triangles framing the center of Mom's quilt

 I considered a celtic knot, to mirror the appliqued center block.  I realized that would require ruler work and I haven't practiced with the curved ruler yet.  I thought about long parallel diagonal lines but that, too, would require ruler work.  I prefer Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) to the tedium of ruler work.

I decided to try feathers with background filler to set them off.  I tried pebbles and straight lines. The pebbles gave the background more interest and texture; plus Steven liked that better.  Who am I to reject good advice?

 It's dark here in New York by late afternoon and the bright florescent lights don't show up the texture in a photo.  I illuminated this with a small,  lighted make-up mirror. (I use it to check the backing stitches).

Here you can see the detail better.  I used an old sheet and some scrap batting to make a piece the same size as the triangle in the quilt.  It shrunk up quite a bit.  I like the effect.  I think I can accomplish this on the Nolting.  

I stitched this out this afternoon on the 201-2.  It was good therapy.  Overnight, Wilson was up three times and was clearly getting weaker and sicker.  He deteriorated through the morning and while I had hoped to keep him home until he passed,  he was clearly suffering.   He lay peacefully in the back seat of the car, his head in my lap as we drove to the vet.  We didn't have to move him inside.  Despite the bad weather, they came out to the car to lovingly tend to him. 

He is buried in the yard.  It was sleeting and snowing as Steven and I filled in his grave.  Wrigley and Frannie came out but didn't really pay much attention to Wilson's body.  Wrigley sniffed, Frannie whined and barked from a few feet away.  They did not seem perturbed.  Even my sudden bursts of sobbing don't set them off now.  He was a good boy and a fine dog.  I will miss him so very, very much.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


This morning's effort.  I think I will go with this.  It is easier and looks less messy.  The blending thread color helps.  I just hope that I can see it on the frame. 

I had to turn off all the lights, but I managed.  Assuredly, quilting with light thread on light fabric should be done during daylight.