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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Monday, September 29, 2008

When I posted to my blog yesterday I forgot to say the charity top was pieced by my friend Riea in Texas and I quilted it. Riea is one of the best toppers I've seen in my long career as a machine quilter. Riea sent that top (and two others) to me just about this time last year. The other two have not gotten quilted yet. They will also be given to charity. Geeze, this year has been a hard one for getting things done.

I went to guild meeting yesterday... no Ike this time. I think it was a very good meeting. Lots of helpful critiques were going on. I wasn't as far along on my own quilt as I should have been. The other people in the group are at various stages of completion.

I mentioned to a couple of people in the group that I would be teaching machine quilting at the Happy Heart Shop starting hopefully in January. The new machine is still sitting in the boxes. Neither the shop owner, nor I, have the time right now to set it up. We agreed to wait until after the rush season is over before working on it.

One guild member asked me what I would be teaching and how it would be helpful to her as a sit down machine quilter. You know what? I couldn't explain it. I could see it in my mind but just couldn't find the right words to explain it.

This got me to thinking.... ooo, dangerous.... about how will I describe the classes? What will be my class outlines for the different stages of machine quilting? Will I be a good teacher? How helpful will I actually be to others who want to learn machine quilting? Can I really be helpful to a sit down machine quilter? I have to do some serious thinking and planning before January!

My origianal thoughts for the first class were that I should show how pantographs could be used to do custom quilting. Pantos are used with a stand up machine and wouldn't be helpful for a sit down quilter. Pantos are quilting designs on long rolls of paper. In most instances pantos are as long as the machine table and are followed with a pointer to stitch from one side of the quilt to the other. The rows are repeated until the whole top is quilted. The stitching falls wherever on the top.

But..... with a little ingeniuity.... pantos can be used to create a custom quilted top. Pantos can be used to quilt individual blocks or around an outside border. Even on a small shortarm machine. A person doesn't need a hugh machine or learn how to freehand in order to do custom machine quilting. A person can do large 15 inch designs with a machine that only has a reach of 5 inches. It's all in how you do it that matters.

Some of the other classes I though I would teach are:

How to load a quilt - floating the top while keeping it square
How to create your own pantos, including nested designs
How to freehand quilt - good for sit down quilters
How to use line dancing for custom quilting - good for sit downers too
How to combine pantos and freehand designs to create very intricate custom quilting.

I have other thoughts for classes but I need to save some of them for later.

Well I could sit here type-talking for a long time but I must get off the computer and get busy. First order of the day is to wash the dishes! For one person I sure do make a lot of dirty dishes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I have another quilt finished. It's an issue quilt too. This is it when it was on the machine.

Don't get me wrong; I love getting these quilts. These quilts are my bread and butter so to speak. The issues don't bother me at all because I can quilt them very quickly and move on to the next top. Still.... there are times when I have to wonder..... what were they thinking?

Why do the toppers feel the need to include that much extra fabric instead of measuring and cutting to match? Is there a nationwide shortage of fabric I don't know about and people want to hoard it in their quilt? Who is teaching these toppers? Do the toppers own an iron?

I know of some machine quilters who would refuse to quilt a top like this. They would tell the topper to take it home and fix it first. I know of other machine quilters who would feel the need to take it apart themself and fix it. My thoughts are.... and I've said this for many, many years..... Your quilt will be quilted in the condition it is in when you bring it to me. So here is this one all quilted.

I do love the Circle Lord for quilting these tops. It's reasonably flat and even just waiting for me to wrap the back over the top for a binding. Yup, I did quilt in a few tucks here and there. Someone will love it and treasure it.... issues and all.

I try to give each topper a new tip on improving their work. For some, one issue quilt will be the only top they ever make. For others, they continue to make tops and improve with each one.

This next quilt is by such a person. A few years ago she brought me her first top. Oooo eeee, did it have plenty of issues. But just look at how she does now. Not perfect but very much improved! I feel like a proud moma at a kid's graduation to see the work she's doing now.

Her tops have graduated to semi-custom. This is for a grandchild so I did baby rattles and love bears on it.

Remember this quilt from a few months ago? It's a charity quilt that's been waiting for a new home. I had planned to send it to a family that lost their home in a fire. By the time I finally got it quilted I had forgotten who the family was or where to send it. That's what happens when I don't have finished charity quilts waiting to be sent out as I see a need.

Circumstances have prevented me from making charity tops for several months. I'm making plans to change that this coming year! I have a bunch of ufos and pigs just waiting on me.

Yesterday, I had a very good customer call me to ask... if she could make a top very quickly, how long would it take me to quilt it? When I asked why she needed one finished so urgently; she said it was for a cancer patient who always felt cold during treatments.

Well heavens, it is the xmas season. I get urgent calls like this every year about this time. I had to explain that I'm booked for the rest of the year with xmas quilts. I really wanted to say I could quilt one for her; but, it would be unfair to my other customers who have waited months for me to get to their name on my waiting list.

What I suggested to the customer was that she go ahead and make a top and trade it for the one I already had completed. We both win in this situation. She gets what she needs and I get another top to be done for another charity in the future. I don't feel so bad about saying no to a good customer nor do I rush myself to squeeze another top into an already full schedule.

Today is guild meeting. We are meeting today since the last meeting was cancelled due to Ike. I won't be getting any customer quilting done today.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Another finished quilt. This is it before I put it on the machine. It's an issue quilt.

Here it is finished. I used the Circle Lord Fan template to quilt it. This design helps ease in all the fullness.

A view of the back to see the design better.

I finally got through to my insurance company about my food loss. Apparently Kentucky Farm Bureau pays only a small percentage of loss to people who live in the west end. What the area has to do with it doesn't make any sense to me. Especially since I've had the same insurance for 25 years and never filed a claim before. That's a lot of money paid and getting nothing in return when I need it.

I decided to cancel the claim since they won't pay me much anyway. I'm going to find a new insurance company and don't want a pending claim to keep me from changing carriers. I've been unhappy with Kentucky Farm Bureau for quite some time; so now is a good time for making a change.

Will they be unhappy about me going to another company? Not hardly. It's an "I don't care" world. Not like in the old days when companies actually cared whether they lost a customer or not. Customer satisfaction has become a thing of the past. I'm sticking with the old ways for my own business. I want my customers happy.

Some people get all the breaks and some.... like me.... who works and actually tries to be a responsible person..... don't get any breaks.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. A one thousand dollar water bill. No, it's not mine, it's my neighbor's. He knew I took a picture of it for my blog. This is a two month bill.

The man works only long enough to draw unemployment then lives off it until it runs out then repeats the process. You know the type? His days are filled with watching tv and drinking. He gets people to do things for him... because they feel sorry for him. I don't! Actually, he's in the process of applying for SS disability at the ripe old age of 40 so he doesn't have to work anymore. He will probably get it.

This water bill was just plain laziness on his part. He knew he had a bad washer in his bathroom sink. The water ran all the time. But he wouldn't take the time to simply turn off the water supply under the sink even though several people told him to turn it off. I guess he was waiting for someone to go to his house and turn the knob for him.

Well, apparently he already has a social service agency going to pay his bill for him and fix the leaky faucet...... because he's unemployed and they feel sorry for him.

For years, I've seen him do things like this all the time. Social service places help him time after time. He gets his utilities paid. He gets food. He gets work done on his house. People cut his grass. He uses other people's phone. He gets free bus tickets. He doesn't pay his house taxes. He even has people who will clean his house for him. In other words..... he is the luckiest person I've ever seen. He gets all the breaks while a person.... like me.... can't catch a break at all.

I've started letting him pick my lottery numbers..... (smile)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Today's finished quilt. I managed to finish by the deadline. It's another sampler quilt. I sure do get a lot of sampler quilts don't I? Maybe because it seems to be the current quilt fashion in this area.

I did a feather design on the outside border and a greek key type design on the inside border.

Then a line dancing design on the next inside border and my favorite sashing design. I guess I need to come up with a new favorite.

All the blocks got a combination of line dancing designs and some custom to spice it up.

I kinda like this one.

This one is neat too.

Hmmm.... what is the name of this block? I can't remember.

Can't forget to show a picture of the back too. I love those fan shaped feathers.

This is the center of the quilt. The owner loves to do applique.

I've got the next quilt on the machine and once again down to the last couple of rows. This one took longer than I thought to complete because I had several interuptions when I was trying to finish it. Lately I can't seem to get farther than the last couple of rows on the next quilt before having to call it a day. Maybe today will be different.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I was in a thrifty cook mode yesterday and in speed overdrive trying to finish that quilt. So very early in the morning I put some bean soup in the crock pot, made a skillet of cornbread, and made a peach cobbler. That's a small 1 quart pot. Just right for a single person.

I didn't think of it at the time; but, I should have used the larger crock pot and put half of it in the freezer. I gotta start thinking better! Half the cornbread is put into the freezer to be used for dressing at another time.

Half the cobbler will be given to a neighbor.

I'm still working on the same quilt. I'm down to the last couple of rows. I tried to finish it but at about 8:30 last night I finally had to say I'd done all I could for the day. It is due today and I will finish it on time. I'll post pictures of it tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yea! The work crew came back to finish the work on the furnace. Here is where the access is to the basement. It's in a closet which is usually full of quilting stuff.

The only way to get into the basement is by first putting a stepladder down inside, open it so it's safe to stand on, then go through the narrow opening. Opening the ladder requires a person to lay on the floor while holding the ladder to open it. A tricky move if you think about it. What if a person looses grip on the ladder and it falls to the basement floor?

While the workmen were at lunch I took an opportunity to take a photo or two of the basement. I'm not going down there! I reached down with the camera. The basement is brick all around. This is where the old doorway used to be.... before an addition was put on the house.

There is even a concrete floor down there. Oh how I wish I could afford to have a stairway made to this ideal storage place! That one red brick in the wall has me very curious. Why would someone paint one single brick a bright red color? Could there be a treasure behind it?

There are lots of creepy crawly nests down there but it would be such a nice place to put home canned foods, extra batting, garden tools, and lots of other stuff if it were cleaned up. It would also be very nice to run to the basement if there is a tornado warning. Oh well, wishes don't get things done. Hard work and patience does.
Here is the new ductwork added to the furnace. Nice and clean now; but wait a few weeks and I'm sure some of the creepy crawlies will find it useful.

This is the new vent from the new duct line. It's made to split the air flow so it goes toward each bedroom on the sides.

This is the new higher vent pipe from the furnace. It had to be made two and a half feet taller than it was before. Something about more "draw" of air to go with the new added air intake vents inside. Well anyway it's supposed to make my furnace much more energy efficient.

This is the new dryer vent system. You can't see it but there is a new closeable vent in the wall too. It closes when the dryer is not being used.
I'm not moving the dryer to take a picture. It would be impossible for me to do alone and I'm not calling a neighbor just for a picture.

I left a message with my home owner insurance company about the loss of all my foods. Evidently they are either flooded with calls or they haven't gotten up and running again. If I don't hear from them in a couple of days I will call again.

I've got the next quilt stabelized and working on the designs. I hope to get most of it finished today or tomorrow. It's actually due tomorrow so it is possible I can finish it on time.

The baby is finally back at day care. I'm sure she is happy to see her playmates again.

I best get back into the studio and get more work finished. Breaktime is over.

Monday, September 22, 2008

About your windows

Ok, I know it's been awhile since I posted a hint or tip to this blog. Things just seemed to happen to keep me from getting back to it any sooner. This blog is about more than just saving money making quilts or doing machine quilting. It's about anything I can show others about saving money.

In times like this; when the cost of absolutely everything seems to go up overnight; it's more important than ever to do what we can to keep our expenses down. Fewer people can afford to make quilts or have them machine quilted if their money is going for other things like utilities or food.

Remember these from my other blog a few days ago?

That's the window plastic I bought back in the early spring when it was on the discount table. My windows are the old single pane kind that have sliding storm windows which aren't very tight. Lots of cold air leaks in around them or maybe it's the other way around.... lots of heated air leaks out. I can't afford to be heating the outdoors. I want to keep as much heat inside as possible so my furnace doesn't run all the time. A running furnace costs lots of money these days!

Well yesterday I decided instead of stressing over a quilt on my day off; it was time for me to start changing the plastic on my windows. I keep the plastic on year round and redo it each fall. What keeps out the cold of winter also keeps out the heat of summer. Extreme stress over high utility bills can keep me from doing my best at quilting.

Believe it or not there are some people who don't know exactly how to put plastic on windows. They try.... but if never taught how to do it properly.... will get frustrated and not do it again. Or it won't work the way it should to keep the rooms warmer. Some people believe plastic blocks the view from outside..... not true..... it depends on the type plastic used.

So here are the windows in my bedroom before I start. You can see I have plastic on there already. I can see outside just fine. The current plastic has come loose in places and isn't working. The cloudy view through the plastic comes from it not being tight. Also, I want to change the nailed on fabric.....

to putting up these velour curtains which have been sitting on a shelf for more than a year.

Here is a close up view of how I have fabric nailed up. At the time I hung this fabric I was extremely busy and felt I didn't have time to do more. It was supposed to be a temporary fix.... that's lasted about a year.... or is it two years? Or three?
At that time; I had taken down my window quilts to wash them. Taking the quilts down I realized they had started to fall apart from age and sunlight damage. My intention was to make more window quilts as soon as time allowed. I didn't know it would take so long.

So now I've removed the fabric and the old plastic. Geeze.... creepy things set up house in there. It took me a little while to break the paint seal that kept my window closed. I wanted them open so I could clean up the creepy nests.
Looking out my window you can see the jungle that really needs some attention too.

I opened the window to clean up more creepy nests..... eeeeeuuwww.....

Still more creepy stuff.....

That's when I noticed this tear in my screen. At first I thought someone had tried to break into my house by trying to open the window. After some thought I realized a thief wouldn't cut a slit..... he would rip out the whole screen. So more likely this damage was done during a storm or something. I put 'patch the screen' on my things to do list and hopefully will get around to fixing it next spring.

Well now..... I guess it's time to install the new locks that have been waiting on me too. Don't worry, a thief couldn't have gotten in with the windows painted shut.... unless he broke a window.... in which case the lock wouldn't have done any good anyway.

While I'm at it I also installed the new handles.

Now that I've cleaned up all the creepy things and washed household grime and dust off the frames; it's time to start putting the double sided tape on the frame. This tape is not supposed to seal the plastic. It's only a holding device for the plastic to stay in place. I place the tape near the inside edge of the window facing. It goes all the way around the window.

Next it's time to cut the plastic. In cutting; you need to remember to treat the plastic like you would folded fabric. In this package; I know the width (folded selvage to selvage) is 120 inches just like I know fabric has a width of 40 to 44 inches from selvage to selvage even when folded. I measure 42 inches of length which is just a bit over what I need of 38 inches (side to side) for my windows. I cut the plastic with an old blade rotary cutter or with sissors.

Next step..... this is when the cut plastic piece gets unfolded. I start at the top of the window and place the the top edge of the plastic on the tape. Coming down each side I stick the plastic to the tape with just a bit of tug to keep it only slightly taught. As you can see there is excess plastic outside the double sided tape. Plastic is rarely folded squarely since it's all done by machines. I allow excess to be sure I cover the whole window.

At the bottom I have some extra fullness (instead of taught) because of how my windows are made. The little lip at the bottom needs more excess.

Now that I've got the plastic positioned on the window and held by the double sided tape; it's time to trim off the excess. I cut it with a craft knife.... about a quarter inch beyond the edge of the tape. All quilters know about quarter inch.... right?

The next step is when you actually seal the edge of the plastic. It requires the use of this package tape. Without it you may find your plastic pulling away from your window frame or the double sided tape during very cold weather.

This tape is put on the plastic... centered over the double sided tape.... and onto the window frame. This is what actually seals the plastic to prevent air going out or coming in around the plastic.

When all the edges are sealed with the package tape; you can use a hair dryer to shrink out any excess fullness in the plastic. Even if you make a mistake and get a big tuck in the plastic; the hair dryer will shrink it out. (Gosh, I wish it were that easy getting tucks out of the backing on quilts!)
Using a hair dryer will also make this type plastic very clear.... almost like glass. Be very careful not to over shrink your plastic though. It could pop and tear if the wind blows too much during cold weather. A small tear can be mended with a bit of package tape.
Now there are obviously going to be people who don't like plastic on their windows because they feel it isn't "pretty"; but, what's more important when it comes to your hard earned money.... pretty or functional? For me; pretty isn't nearly as important because I don't like giving away my hard earned money to a utility company. I would rather spend my money on more fabric or a trip to a quilt show.
It seems this room is finished. Well.... almost. I still need to make the window quilts to go behind the curtains. Also, in hanging the curtain rods I realized I need longer brackets. These just aren't long enough to accomodate a rolled up window quilt behind the curtains. Now where on earth did I store the metal pull back brackets? Maybe I'll find those as I continue to work in other rooms. For now the old rope tie backs will work. They kind of go with the decor of the room anyway.
For those who might be interested; the bed and most of the items in this room belonged to my great-grandmother. She and her husband ran a riverboat up and down the Green and Salt rivers carrying freight. Sometimes they were away from home for several days. These items were on their riverboat and are my treasures.

Also, for those who might wonder.... yes, the tape does leave a kind of residue behind on the frame when it's taken off to replace the next year. I don't let this bother me. I call it bonus tackiness which also helps seal out cold air. As long as I have these old windows.... I'm gonna have plastic on them. The sticky stuff will build up over time but it won't matter if I cover it again with more tape. If I ever go to the expense of replacing the windows there will be new frames around them so why stress about sticky stuff on these old ones?
I hope this post has been helpful to someone.... somewhere....or will someday.