Thursday, June 21, 2012

Carry On!

     Yesterday I got back to work on a quilt project that was started 4 1/2 years ago: Emily's wedding quilt. They were married in October 2007 on the most colorful Fall afternoon. The quilt was a good idea that went horribly wrong.

     I chose many different cotton prints in fall prints and colors sewn in 4 patch designs, separated by 4" ivory blocks. To prepare the ivory blocks, I ironed them to freezer paper to help stabilize the fabric making signing easier for the wedding guests. A blue disappearing ink pen was used to put a 1/4" frame around the block so the signatures wouldn't be lost in the seam allowances. I chose red, green, orange, and brown permanent pen/markers for the guests to sign the blocks.

     Each signature block was sewn to a 4 patch block. Rumor has it that blue ink becomes permanent when ironed, so before pressing them, I put all the blocks in a fine net zippered bag and put them in the washing machine so the blue ink would rinse away. When I took them out out of the washer I couldn't believe the mess the markers had left! The markers said "permanent". Doesn't that mean permanent?  The signatures bled all over the place.


In the pictures above, the signatures have already been written over with the
fine fabric pens. Looks a little better.

     The markers even bled on the 4 patches. It didn't help that some of the red fabrics bled too. I was heart sick! **

      My quilt guild ladies suggested to use one of those color catcher sheets in the washing machine. I tried it but it didn't completely remove the damage. I just had to put the project aside.   

     I eventually found the correct pens and Maggie helped me write over the original signatures. Looked pretty good. The original signatures made a nice halo around the new ones. Sarcasm! This really was not a good look, but I had invested time and energy and a little $$ into the project and still wanted something to help Emily & Jim remember their wedding day. I'm not sure this was it, but I am carrying on anyway, 4 1/2 years later.


     So yesterday was the day to get it out and watch it become something resembling lovely. I spread the signature blocks out on the bed. I moved them here and there and added in some blank blocks. Rearranging and pinning several times, I finally had something I liked, except . . .

     . . . I am short 3 blank ivory blocks. And there is NO more. Not a scrap, not a thread. I don't remember where I bought this fabric - maybe WalMart? It's kind of a nothing fabric so if I don't find it, 3 different blocks on the lower side corner will not be noticed. If you've seen this fabric, let me know; ivory with white printed outlines.  I have the blocks sewn into strips and will be getting the strips together to form the quilt top. Hopefully it won't take another 4 1/2 years.

       Well, I've spent another day on the computer and haven't accomplished much except to whine and point out the flaws.  Speaking of whine . . . Wine? 


 **Heart sick like the bridesmaid dress I was pressing late one night. I burned the bodice back piece!!! The fabric melted and burned a nice little iron plate shape. Too late in the night to scream with all the family sleeping. I just went in the bedroom and flopped on the edge of our waterbed, making waves for poor David. Surf's up!  I wanted to run outside and scream in the street, but didn't want to be arrested. The next day I had to removed the neck facing, zipper, waist and side seams. I got enough material to recut and put it all back together. Gee!! That was 25 years ago and I'm still not over it. Do you supposed I need a life?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Good To Know I'm Not (Yet) An Old Dog

I learned a new trick this summer.

I have been growing my own herbs for years: basil, rosemary, Italian parsley, oregano, fennel, lavender, sage.

  This is the right side of our porch.  Left to right: oregano, sweet basil, opal basil, rosemary (2). Behind the oregano is a scraggly bronze fennel. The oregano and fennel were transplanted this spring from the old overgrown herb garden.
This is the left side of our porch. There's sage in there somewhere and a rogue plant from the melon family. The rest is junk. I've got some stray sunflowers I may transplant.

I especially love basil and rosemary. I live in zone 6 so some of my herbs won't live through winter. I've had no luck bringing them inside. This past winter was very mild so I thought I'd try putting buckets over my two rosemary plants. They continued to grow, slightly, but were very robust by the time the danger of frost was past. I bought 3 more plants so I could share the harvest with my daughters.                                                                                                                                                                   

I was in a pasta making mood a couple of weeks ago so I went out to harvest some herbs. When I'm cooking I pick the herbs and put them in a glass of water to keep them fresh until I'm ready to use them. I didn't use all the rosemary so some was left in the glass. In just a couple of days it started rooting! I've had basil do that, but hadn't seen rosemary do that before. Well, now I'm pretty excited. I love this new trick. I can make more plants. Better yet, I can try to keep some rooting all winter and have plants to put outside next spring. Line up little jars of water in the window sill. That's the new plan, anyway.

Here's another new trick I learned: Rosemary Cornbread. I was in a hurry to get some cornbread in the oven so I used a mix. My daughter suggested adding some rosemary needles/leaves to the batter. Oh My! It was SO good. Add a little butter... When I came to, this is what I found:

I'm not sure where it went.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Father's Day, Dads In My Life

     Father's Day has rolled around again. Hmm, what would David's dad like? He recently met his new great-grandson. He thought the baby was a "dandy". haha  So we thought a photo would be a good way to remember that day.

     Okay, what to do for my dad. The man who has everything, except this:

     Isn't this the most precious thing? My daughter took these pictures of her new baby's tootsies. I thought Great-Grandpa would be tickled with this. Will be getting this to him soon.

So, now what to do for my husband...

     My daughter was making bow tie and necktie tshirts and onesie for her husband and baby. I thought that would be a fun thing for David, too.

This is how I made a necktie fusible applique.

     Making a fusible applique is easy. Start by drawing your pattern on freezer paper. Regular old supermarket freezer paper works like magic to make appliques. Iron it on the right side of the fabric. A paper-backed fusible product needs to be ironed on the wrong side of the fabric. Some brands to look for are Wonder-Under, Trans-Web, or Heat and Bond. Check with your local fabric or craft store for the appropriate product to use on your project and follow the manufacturers' instructions to achieve the best results. I think I used Wonder-Under, but I'm not exactly sure. I bought what was left on the bolt because I had a 40% discount coupon from Hobby Lobby and I don't have the label.

And a TV remote is essential.

5 yards is a lot, but will last quite a while.

     So, iron the fusible product to your fabric. Dry iron? Steam? Again, be sure to check the manufacturer's instructions. Let it cool (if too warm, the glue can stick to the paper and not your fabric. Grrr!) and cut out your pattern. Remove the freezer paper. It leaves no sticky residue on the fabric AND it can be used again and again. Good stuff! Now remove the paper from fusible product. Arrange the pieces of the applique how you want it on the project. Be sure you like it, because once you press it down, it's pressed down. Some products allow you to take it up and move it, but I've never had good luck with that. I tend to be a perfectionist with this kind of thing, so it HAS to be right before ironing.

Still working on positioning that wide top flap. Needs to shift a little. 

      I'm kinda crazy about design. It HAS to look like it looks in my head or I'm not happy. When you use a stripe it is important you make the stripes on the "knot" go the opposite direction from the rest of the tie, just like it would be on a real tie. It took a little brain work with this geometric print, getting it look like it was flying like Dilbert's tie.

     To make this tie look like it was flying, it needed to be constructed in sections: the knot, the middle of the wide end, the flipped up wide end, and the narrow end. I had to be sure the fabric print of each section was not going the same directions.

     I wanted to be sure the wide end looked like a real tie, sewn in the center. I cut the pattern in two pieces and shifted it a smidge so it wouldn't look like one solid piece. Then I sewed them together using 1/4" seam.


I like the effect, but I've already decided how to improve the next one by adding a dark square, again looking like the backside of a real tie. Yeah, baby!

At this stage the two pictures above would not have the edges stitched down yet. 
I don't always think which pictures to take before hand.
That's the beauty of having my kind of perfectionism. Who's playing that drum?
     Another design dilemma: I wasn't sure if I wanted the narrow end of the tie to be "normal" length or a little extra long. What about the idea of the narrow end doing a little flying itself? I decided normal and straight would be the way to go on this one. But like I said, I'm already scheming on the next one.

 Didn't these pictures come out weird? Again, I used my cell phone (excuse 1), light from the hallway
was coming in (excuse 2),  and inexperienced assistant using photo enhancements (excuse 3) all
contributed to these rainbow affects. Kinda psychedelic, huh? Anyone have an idea why these 3
pictures won't stay in one row? Looks fine on the working copy, but is stupid while viewing the blog.
     I couldn't visualize in my head how the knot should be shaped, so I found one of my husband's real ties and tied it. "Okay, narrower at the bottom. I'll have to fold the top of the tie to fit. Yup, this is going to work." The fold under the knot worked out pretty well, but I think the next time I wont press it quite so flat. Leave it bumped out a little; just press the edges. My poor family: always getting the prototype. Sad little Guinea Pigs!

     After pressing down all sections to your project, you can leave as is. However, I like to stitch down the edges if the project is going to be washed and dried a lot. I like to use a blanket stitch on some projects, but on this I used a small zig zag. I used a stitch width of 3. The stitch length was just under 1.

     So, here is the final product. I'm pretty pleased with it. I have a nephew who is a high school vice principal. I'm thinking I should make one for him to wear to school. Maybe I will get orders from the other principals and teachers in the district. Ya never know!


     Call your Fathahh!  Let's remember to tell our Dads how much we love them. Don't let sweet moments pass you by. I love you, Dad.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Just One Row At A Time

     My husband's brother and sister-in-law were here last week. We had a wonderful visit. Hopefully there will be a retirement soon and they can live near us. They had to go back home yesterday. I hate that. It's so nice visiting with the ones you love.

     I'm about rested up and am starting to get on with sewing projects that have been sitting around. Yesterday afternoon I finished one row of a quilt I started in January - YES this year! I've heard it called Chevron or French Braid. Below is a book by Jane Miller. She has other books too, carrying on with more variations/ideas. You can find tons of examples of French Braid quilts on Google Images. It's pretty amazing all the configurations you can make with this pattern. shows several pages inside.
     I took a class through my quilt guild January 7th. The teacher showed us a table runner, but I had a lot of fabric, so why make something little (and get it finished - haha)?

     Mine is pretty simple, 14 different fabrics plus 1 for a large center square and 1 more for the little accent square. Then the same 14 fabrics are used on the opposite side of the large square. I think I had all these fabrics in my stash of 1 yard, 1/2 yard, and fat quarter pieces.

     I love using my little Featherweight machine. This shows fabrics #1-8 cut in 7.5" strips. I did a lot of shuffeling to get the fabrics in the order I wanted. The #9 shown here turned out to be my final #8. The large paisley square measures 7.5". The little wine accent squares are 2.5".

This shows a 15th fabric. I must have weeded one out somewhere. Oh, I see.
I didn't use the #8 shown here. These hadn't been cut into strips yet.

This shows fabrics #1-5 sewn together. 

This shows fabrics #3-8.

Showing fabrics #1-8. This is where I stopped & set it aside.

     Working at school and a new grandson to play with, this is where I took a 6 month hiatus.   :)

  This shows the remainder of the row, adding on fabrics #9-14.

 The pattern repeats on both sides of the large center square.

One completed row. It's 90"x13".

     I wish the pictures were better. My cell phone rarely takes good pictures. I say that with every blog entry. (Shhh, can't find David's camera. I know I saw it around here somewhere.)

     This quilt will be 90 inches from top to bottom. Each row will finish at 10" wide. I don't know how wide the quilt will be. Twin? Double? Queen? That will depend on how the fabrics hold out. I've had these fabrics a while and can't get anymore of the same. There are instructions for how much fabric is needed, but as usual I am winging it, flying by the seat of my pants. Using this technique all these years, my pants are wearing mighty thin.

     So, 6 months to make one row. When will this be finished? Let's calculate:  3 cubed  x  E=Mc2 divided by 3.14159 (and yes, I made 2 fresh strawberry pies while David's brother was here) - width/mood factor = Ummm. I'll let you know.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

They Have Super Powers!!

I am off work for summer break and am determined to get control of my house and the flowerbeds reclaimed from the dogs. Perhaps photos will be shown on a later blog entry.

We had old friends from out of town today and will have family visiting all next week. I want to spend the time playing, not picking up. I've been cleaning off and on for the last two weeks and things are looking up. It had been a while since I REALLY cleaned, but I won't say how long. Living on a farm, I'm sure you can imagine how hard it is to keep the house clean. There is fine dusty dirt everywhere. Driving on dirt roads, it comes in on our clothes and shoes, blows in the doors and windows. We also have dogs, lab and lab cross. They are all outside dogs, but when they aren't too (visibly haha) dirty and on good behavior, they come in for visits. Labs are great, but shed like crazy. You don't really see the hair until it starts accumulating in the corners.

Yesterday was crunch time. After going to town to buy groceries I came home to do a little cooking and to clean the floors. I got out my three super heroes. And being they are super heroes, of course they have super powers. Their performance was fantastic.

From left to right:

Bissell Powerforce Bagless Upright Vacuum - I bought this originally because it was inexpensive, and to keep upstairs. My "good" vacuum was so heavy and awkward to drag up the stairs. The "good" one was expensive ($500? when new) and it always has trouble staying turned on. I think there is a short in the electrical connection. We've had it worked on; still acts stupid.  I've kept it because it still has suction. It just doesn't work on carpets. It has a looooong hose and I can reach really high with it. I'll see if the hose and attachments will work on something else & dump the rest of it. I've decided the Bissell is now my "good" one. It worked so great on my living room carpet (20X30). I had to empty the dirt cup twice. I told you it had been a while. And it picked up a lot of dog hair too. I am so happy with it's performance. The carpet looks so nice.

Shark Vac then Steam - This is my most recent purchase. I had seen the infomercial many times, but never ordered it. One day when leaving WalMart I noticed the sales flier in the cart, opened to the household cleaners. There it was. AND it was on sale. It was a sign! When I first got it I wasn't too impressed. I guess there is a learning curve because it worked GREAT last night. It works on hard floors only. With the fine dirt also comes chunky dirt: mud chunks from the treads on our shoes, chunks of weeds & sticks from hay bales, gravel, etc. Also we are pigs. There's always popcorn, popped and unpopped, scraps of paper & wrappers, etc. That is what I've always wanted in a vacuum: something that will pick up chunky stuff. The bottom has channels that direct the dirt to be suctioned. Again I had to empty the dirt cup twice. More of the same kind of dirt that was on the carpet. When finished vacuuming, empty the dirt cup and then go on steam mopping mode using distilled water. I used two mop pads on 2 large and 2 small floors. Of course the kitchen was the worst. It's nice knowing that the floor is clean using just hot steam. Great for babies (a certain one who will be crawling soon) that are always putting their hands in their mouths.

Hoover SteamVac Carpet Washer - After vacuuming the living room I got out my carpet steamer. This is a real eye opener. I thought I vacuumed really good because I emptied the dirt cup two times. Well, after squirting steam and cleaner into the carpet, it sure sucked up some muddy looking stuff. There was all kinds of little rocks and grass/weed seeds. And tons more pet hair, not to mention human hair. (I wonder who's it was. Do you know, Red?) It didn't look like I had even vacuumed. Good Little Hoover!

I worked like a dog and was finished by 11:30 p.m. I was sweaty and my back really ached, BUT MY FLOORS ARE CLEAN!!! It's nice having equipment that works well.

With a little more cleaning and decluttering I will have this house summer ready. Then I am ready to play the summer away, doing what I like: sewing, quilting, crafting and playing with my new grandson.

                                                    Had to use the extra large photo. He's so darn pretty!

P.S. On the far right are 2 old-time, hand-held, vintage-style brooms. They still have their place for a quick clean-up and for sweeping the porch. At least they have each other.