Tuesday, 10 February 2015

I Feel Much Sewing Coming On

JMN, take that! I have completed my January Block of the Month for Craftsy! How are you doing on your BOTM? I've seen nothing on your blog yet. What's up? Yes, I realize we are well into February and I'm only on January. I really do need to be a bit more prompt or I see disaster around the corner. Did you know we have TWO blocks due for February? I feel a bit panicky!

I decided to follow Jenny Beyers' directions. This meant hand sewing, template cutting and pressing after everything is sewn. I popped everything in a baggie and got some of it done on a recent trip to Montreal. I found the hand sewing relaxing and the corner matching was much easier! I can see why this is attractive to many people. I think I will follow her directions on assembly as it seems I will be trying lots of new things that way. Her videos are really well done and quite watchable!

I am not following her colour requirements. I just cut pieces from the half meters of batik I bought for this project. I don't have a background fabric designated and I don't include as many colour changes in a block as she requires. I will just cut as I feel and hope with fingers crossed that it all works out. She has you plop the block on the pressing mat and press from the right side, letting the seams fall where they may. I have never done THAT before, but it did seem to work beautifully. I wonder if this is only for hand piecing?

Now I am also working on a BOTM for Nancy Zeiman. She will also be introducing techniques and tools each month and the new block will be coming out on the 3rd. Saturday, so my homework will be staggered. Yah!

This month we did a Dresden plate block with strip piecing and alternating strip panels. The top of the panels were seamed to make a point and then the completed plate section was appliquéd with invisible thread. I got way too strippy on the panels. Perhaps if I measured before I sewed? She was working with 3 strips. I ended up with 5 to get the width I needed. If I had measured I could have made 3 work. Just wasn't thinking. 

Not too sure I like the invisible thread for the appliqué. It works, but I don't really like the look. Nancy hasn't shown us the whole quilt as Craftsy does, so I'm not sure how it finishes up. She does give you lots of ideas for using just that one block in many ways and advised pulling from scraps  of 3 colours (mine are red, beige and blue). I am using a colour for the background block - but I don't have that much of it and I don't know what I'll need - so this could get interesting. Looking forward to it! I made 2 blocks so I have options on completed quilt size.

I got the purse handles I have been waiting for in the mail today, so I will hopefully finish up my January purse this week and start my February purse too. This purse club is excellent, but I am going to need more days in the month. Many, many more days.

And I promised my SIN group I would sew clothing for me this month. We have dinner next Tuesday. 

If you're looking for me, I'll be in my sewing room.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Great P is Wise, So Wise, Again

Seen outside a local children's store - "Tutus for sale, locally made". Nothing brings a community closer than locally made tutus. Remember when 'imports' were a sign of prestige and quality? I like the way this pendulum is swinging. I still like the idea of on line shopping, but I love to buy local whenever I can. I also like the idea of celebrating our ability to produce quality products in our own backyard, and be proud of them. Yah us!

I finished a quilt today. It's lovely and I'm pleased with it. Pictures next time as I'm exhausted! It took about 1 1/2 hours to apply the binding! I like to use a blanket stitch to sew down the second side. It looks lovely and perhaps adds a bit of strength. However it took over one full bobbin of #50 thread and a very very long time to work my way around a small size quilt. It's still worth it, but I am amazed!

I machine quilted it at home and I'm getting much more comfortable with free motion quilting. On one square I tried little tiny wiggles in the centre square and then careful flower tracing in the border. Took longer, but it looked good.

Until I turned it over. Another lesson from the Great P greeted me on the other side. Always floss your top thread into the tension disk or it may not settle in nicely. When you free motion you don't need to raise the pressure foot to move around. However, if you don't raise the foot when you rethread, the tension disks are not open and ready to receive. The bottom was a sweet intense trail of little loopy stitches. Now the good part of loopy stitches is that they do pull out. That is a good thing, as there were a million of them.

Now, what do you do at the beginning and end of your free motion stitch line? Do you tack a few stitches on top of each other to fix the thread, or do you just sew? I tried both. When I tacked I then just cut the thread. When I just stitched away I went back and pulled all the threads to the backside and then pulled them into the quilt batting with a self threading needle.

And then the whole question of cotton vs poly thread. And thread weight. So many decisions!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Purses, Of Course.

Yesterday it was really cold, but sunny. When you looked out my kitchen window, in just the right way - you could see little sparkles of ice floating in the air. It looked like Jack Frost glitter! Beautiful!

It's raining purse patterns! I'm like a squirrel in a ripe oak tree. I signed up for the Bag of the Month Club.  My first pattern has arrived and I have it roughly together. I'm waiting for the purse frame to come from China. I need to get this finished before the February bag arrives in my email. Ahhh!!!!

Pellon is a great site for free patterns and they have added a new bag by Swoon, the Mabel! Look at that handle. It reminds me of the plastic handles that come in peach baskets. As I have a collection of those, I'll let you know if it works. If you 'Like' Swoon on Facebook you will see this bag in a variety of great versions.

Pellon also just added the Laney bag. It has classic good looks. I've seen it done in many versions (an actual use for Facebook) and would be good for spotlighting something neat on that centre panel.

Sew Sweetness has just posted the Baker Street bag. Her instructions are clear and you always learn something new. Love that Sara!

I did just finish a new Swoon bag. I used silk decorator samples, so each panel is a different colour way. I think it adds to the charm. There is a centre zipped pocket that pulls in the ends to make a fold and give the bag shape. I like it. The zipped section is only supposed to be attached at the end panels for about an inch. Talk about honesty in instructions! You are to 'wrangle' the whole business under the presser foot and try your best. Perfection is not guaranteed! Thank you! I can trust a designer like that!

I did put a few hand stitches in the bottom of the zipped section to tack it to the bag centre bottom seam. I'm not sure that was needed. Or maybe it would be better to sew both bottom seams together? I'll try it for a bit and reevaluate. However, the designer may be right in leaving it alone. When will I learn to trust?

This bag pattern was not free, but worth every penny of its bargain price. I will make it again. Although it may not look as if it will keep it's nice shape I think it will. It seems to get better every time I pick it up. I used a suit weight fusible interfacing on every piece of fabric and it seems to suit the silk without overpowering it. The handle tucks inside easily when you want to go 'clutch'.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Be a Blessing!

What a great weekend! I had my second curling night and had several rocks stay in play! Very exciting. Although it isn't nice to threaten the other team ("Don't touch that rock!") they were quite nice and apologetic when their play destroyed my efforts. My new curling shoes are just the ticket. They SLIIIIIDE.... beautifully. Need to practice more push in my slide.

Saturday DH and I were a checkpoint at a car rally. This means you sit in your car for 5 hours on a lonely, isolated dirt road in the total dark and wait for strange cars you don't know to drive up and stick their heads in your window. We had a lovely time! I brought a picnic and crocheted a washcloth using hemp. It makes for a nice exfoliation in the shower. 17 teams came through our checkpoint 3 times, and checked on my progress. DH remembered checkpoints from his youth where other crazy ladies sat with knitting. Ah, how the world turns! He never thought he'd marry that!

I'm trying to finish a quilt and further a second quilt along. I'm off to Montreal at the end of the month and want to finish one (OhLaLa!) for a niece. I have 13 nieces and nephews. Lots of quilts required! You should see a picture of this one soon.

Actually that's not true about the nieces and nephews. They don't require anything, dear sweeties. They are, however a great excuse for quilt making. They provide excellent justification. Some are actually having children of their own now. More excuse for sewing!

The second quilt is Jacobean Journey. It's embroidered and quilted 'in the hoop' on my embroidery machine. We are doing this at work as a group and I want to get half the blocks together so people can see what they are working towards. I'm getting the hang of it, but your eyes do cross occasionally as you have to match seams fairly precisely if you want it to lay flat and look good. It's a good place to use forked pins.

I think of myself as a somewhat spiritual person. I am not a church goer, nor am I anti church. We all need different things, I figure. However, when I pick up The Great P for work I get to read the local church signboard. I evaluate the message each time and discussion may follow. This week was excellent. The boys were right on. 'Be the blessing in 2015.' Think that through for a bit. What a positive and active message! Are you being a blessing? You'll know when you are. Take pleasure in it!

It also gives me the opportunity to inform people when they are NOT being a blessing! Keep that information to friends only. The non blessings don't understand or appreciate. Makes sense, eh?

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Monkey Love

I could never permanently move to Montreal. Oh, I know. The sainted nieces and nephews are there. The baby sister is there. The Fabric Stores are there!!!! However, the Tim's don't serve steeped tea.

And that's a deal breaker for me. I cannot make a good cup of tea, regardless of how I try. Steeped Tim's tea is joy in a cup.

DH and I went curling Friday night for the first time, and bought curling shoes Saturday morning! Yes, we had a great time and are looking forward to Friday date nights. I even had a rock or 2 stay in the general area of the circle things. There seems to be a social drink afterwards. As we are already up past our bedtime of 10, we'll have to go the extra km to do the social necessity, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make!

It's a new year and I have been organizing the sewing room and other crafting collections. It's been days and days and days, but I am feeling better and keen. The layers were getting a bit overwhelming.

Now I have organized mounds of UFO's. I will be tackling these in between new projects. That's the plan, as of now. First to the finish line ...

Ed The sock monkey! I haven't hooked in many years and went to a class with a friend. This is the kit I picked up there. I like hooking, but more as a means to an end. I like hooked rugs - therefore I will probably hook one or 2 to fit specific spots in the house. They'll have to be simple designs, as I don't and won't have the skills to go fancy. As you can see, Ed the Monkey is quite straight forward, but cute.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Many Many Gifts!

The gifts are pouring in and out!

Off to the Mic Mac Tavern with a friend for lunch. We went early, as that place has had a never ending lineup since they moved next door. We did not avoid the lineup, and I trudged up to the hostess desk to sign in. That little angel looks up and exclaims "Mrs. M!". Ah, yes! Another one from my teaching past. We were seated promptly!

Now, isn't that the best gift? She remembered me, was pleased to see me and happy to be of help. As a teacher you're not always sure how these things will go. We walk a fine line at times. I loved teaching! It's wonderful to think that I made a good impression that is worth remembering. Especially wonderful when you are talking about children. They see to the bottom of your heart and soul at times. At least, the ones who need to do.

Next gift incoming was the Chanel vintage braid I was gifted by A Challenging Sew. Canada Post arrived at the door with this marvellous package! What an amazing thing to do! She doesn't know me. I'm thinking she knows only a few of her many admirers. Yet she took time to share some amazing gifts with her readers. I spend a lot of time pouring over her couture details and sew alongs. I need to honour this gift with an appropriate sew. I got out my best Chanel boucles and I'm not sure I have what I need. Dare I say I may need to shop on? Opinions welcome.

The braid does nicely on either side, giving options. The front one won't work. Will the braid be lost on either of the others?

Last night I brought my magical basket o'gifts to a family gathering. Cup cozies, Kleenex pack covers, ear bud cases, etc.  They were warmly greeted. I found it totally unexpected that some of the guys wanted Kleenex covers. Who knew? The nieces and nephews are all grown now. They have collected partners and these game souls come to these rather boisterous family events. What nice people they have all grown to be! I am so grateful for my family and family gatherings. 

Merry Christmas! Happy Festivas!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Amy Sue

My cat died yesterday. She was 20. Today was a very long and quiet day. She will be missed.

Amy Sue Devil Child was more formally known as Amasis. She was a petite Abyssinian with lovely red fur. As a kitten she created a long list of firsts. She was first of her litter to purr, climb out of the box, scale the wall (and all of the subsequent wall extensions). She would also have been first born, but one of her brothers got in the way. She pushed him out and followed, for the first and last time in her life. She marched with teeny pink paws to her own drum. 

Amy tried modelling for a short time as a youngster. She was a fine example of why you don't take your hands off an Abyssinian at a cat show. The errant judge was severely disciplined. Her tetanus shot worked well, I understand. There was also those embarrassing incidents at the doctor's office. Amy was always one to hold others to a high standard. That scale was far too flimsy. Mama needed a tetanus shot update. That little velcro muzzle was fun. It's unbelievable no other cat had conquered that before!

Amy initially lived a quiet but full life with her brother (Percival), mom (Sam) and an aunt (Lucille) and uncle (Ben). She was the last of her family and therefore in her later years had to provide 5 times the feline needs of her servants. She greeted them at the door each day. Amy walked the driveway daily, if the temperature was right. Appropriate honour guards walked with her. Leaves were chased. Sticks were sniffed. We were allowed to sun with her on the patio, if the proper cushion was placed in the sunniest position - with a second cushion in the shade for heat regulation. Eventually, after the required 100,000 repetitions of "Don't eat that!" she even stopped eating grass (more or less). 

Her favourite activity was the constant monitoring of the fireplace. She kept it in perfect working order. She perfected the meow that turned it on and only fell off her fireside chaise when in the deepest of slumbers. Her figure was always excellent, although at times it was a battle to get her back up to almost 5 lbs. She was truly beautiful. 

Her purrs and her cuddles were given only to the most deserving, and those who received knew they were in the presence of something great. She will be missed. Deeply, fondly and with respect.