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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.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Duh! Why didn't I think of it before?

My, my, we are growing up. As soon as a child is old enough to walk they should get their own back pack. I mean really, if they must have diapers, wipes, bottom creams, snacks, sippy cups, and toys every time they leave home.... why shouldn't they be the one to carry it?

Is this storing items at the point of use?  hee, hee, I think it is.

I got ALOT done

Ok, I can't show the art quilt I finished but I can show one small section. I can't show the whole thing until April. This is the planet quilt. How do you think the planet quilt is held together?

With stitches of course.

I finished this one too. It's the quilt with the star that I used for a "piece it backwards" project.

It has one very big star in the center.

I won't show every single block but they all got various forms of line dancing on them. Except for the center star. It got straight lines on the star and meandering stars around it.





As you saw, line dancing takes many forms. This is the border design.

How it looks on the corners.

I forgot to take pictures of the three baby quilts I quilted for my SIL today. I don't know if I'll work anything this weekend. I usually can't do much with Ladybug home. Besides that though Ladybug and I are both running a slight fever and sneezing a lot. I'm hoping it's nothing too serious or lingering. When I'm on a roll like this I don't want to stop and be sick. Know what I mean?

So ok, I'm going to finish dinner then take some preventive meds and get to bed early. With luck this fever and sneezing stuff will be gone by morning.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Still working

A short post today. My daughter worked from home yesterday which meant I couldn't get to the computer. I'm still working on the same quilt. There are many issues which need to be handled and this means slow going. I only have the inside border and the center of the pieced area left to quilt. My mind is kind of blank on what to quilt in these areas.

I doubt I'll get this quilt finished today. This afternoon, what isn't done will have to wait. I have another quilt that I promised to have finished by this weekend. Lucky that it's a small one. Friday my SIL will be back here to work on her tops. This means that today and tomorrow are the only times I have for working on the special quilt.
I spent a little time studying Photoshop early this morning. I have a comprehension handicap so I read, read, read, over, and over again before something clicks for me. I do much better with audio books. So far I've gotten through the first three chapters. No time for testing what I've learned until next week.... maybe. I never know what life will hand me each morning so it's best not to make too many plans. I need to learn Photoshop in order to create photos with instructions that will go into my book... if it ever gets written. Some days it feels like I'm never going to get around to it. Does anyone have a round tooit they would let me borrow?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Got a little work done

There is a very good reason that old ladies don't have babies anymore. Geeeeze, it sure is work keeping up with a toddler. I love every bit of it though. Nap times are great!

I managed to work on the border of the quilt with fullness issues and blogged about how I did it on the other blog.

I managed to make a temporary cover for my chair before the tear in the upholstery got worse. At some point I'll have to find the time to re-upholstery it with better fabric than the original stuff.

I got the pattern created for a bra to be made out of leftover t-shirt fabrics. I'm not sure it will work but I'm willing to give it a try. The fabric is just sitting there doing nothing anyway so I might as well see if I can make some bras to go with the undies.

Started putting my SILs quilt together for her. What was she thinking? I haven't a clue. I told her to cut down the center of all the blocks. She did every one of the others right but then she did this on the last one. No more fabric to make a replacement block so this one will be different than the rest. It will be the "oops" block. You know, the one that always seems to have a mistake but is used anyway. Usually opps blocks become the block used to sign the quilt.

Well, it wasn't a lot accomplished but at the same time it was "something done". Done is always good. I managed to get some blog reading done too. I'm updated on what my favorite bloggers have been up to the last week or so. Ladybug goes back to day care today. Daycare is good too!

Quilt issue - a friendly border

I thought I'd show you an update on the quilt with too much fullness. This is a view from the angle that showed the fullness at its best. There are a few small tucks in the fabric between the inside and outside borders.

I try my best to avoid tucks but sometimes they happen anyway. I was trying to ease in about 2 or 3 inches of extra fullness in this one area.

Moving to another angle to show you I've now drawn a chalk guideline for me to follow. Hmm... doesn't look so full from this angle.

As I quilt the design, I use the fingers of my freehand to ease the fabric in between the stitching lines as I move the machine. I use only designs that don't cross over themselves. Meeting at the center line is not crossing over itself.

As you can see, the fullness is worked in and not as noticeable. It's still there, just "eased in" between the design lines. I work one side, then the other side, moving from side to side of the design as I move around the border.
The reason I do the border first is because when the quilting is done on the center it draws up which creates more fullness on the border. I don't want to compound the fullness already in the border. Clear as mud? I'm not sure how to explain it better. Quilting the borders first makes them tight while the center will become saggy. When the center is then quilted it tightens up to be even with the border. Even the small tucks will be far less noticeable once the whole quilt is finished.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you?

During Ladybug's nap time yesterday I sorta fixed my Gammill quilting chair. As you can see it's seen better days.

I used some scraps leftover from the window quilts I made for her room a couple of months ago. Sewed two pieces together to get a large enough piece. Lay it on the chair and cut around it making sure I left enough fabric that it would go underneath. Then sewed elastic around the edge, pulling it taught as I sewed. The elastic pulls the fabric underneath so it stays put.

If a person really wants to live a more frugal life then making repairs should be a part of that life. I sometimes let repairs go undone until they bug me mentally to the point I "have" to get it done. It's not that I don't want to make repairs. It's that I don't believe I have the time. I must keep reminding myself that any projects worthy of doing deserve time to get done.

If a person has more time than money.... repairs are worth the effort and should be a part of the simple life.

When I was younger, repairs were a normal part of my routine. It might be as simple as sewing on a button or patching a tear on jeans. Sometimes it was replacing a door knob or tightening a chair leg or painting a dresser. Back then, I thought nothing of taking the time to make repairs. After all I grew up in a time when we were taught.... if it's usable then repair it. If it's not usable.... make something else out of it. It was just natural to make repairs.

As my quilting career took off, more and more repairs got shoved aside in my quest to stay ahead of the long waiting list of tops to quilt. I worked more so I could pay someone to do my repairs so I could work more and pay more people to do still other repairs. At heart I'm a do-it-yourselfer. I like getting my hands dirty so to speak. There's just something very satisfying about knowing I did it myself.

Now that I'm moving back toward a simpler life, repairs are once again becoming a part of my routine. The seat cover for the chair is a temporary fix. Yes, I do know how to do upholstery work too. I've been a do-it-yourselfer for my whole life. Of course, I can't do everything; but, what I don't know, I'm sure there is a website or a book that will tell me how.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

About the memory quilt

I realized I forgot to say that the Mommie is out of town this weekend. She won't be back until very late Monday night. That's why Ladybug and I are together for the whole time this weekend.

I was asked about the hat in the memory quilt. Yes, I'm using it like this. The mother who lost her son requested it be included if it could be. I took it apart and removed the hard insert and the back of the bib. I'll remove the threads when I applique it down by hand. Of course I can't quilt over the hat. It's way too thick. What I will do is quilt around it. I rarely ever do any hand work on quilts. The exception is for memory quilts. Memory quilts are precious to me. They give me a sense of great satisfaction to create. When I create memory quilts, it's like I hear an angel whisper in my ear telling me how the quilt should be made.

Included in this memory quilt are a few shirts that I'm leaving the collars on too. I cut out the back and layered it (right side up) so the block will come out with 4 corners. When the hand work is finished I'll cut out the excess on the back. I use a very strong thread, (used for coat buttons) so the pieces will remain if the quilt is ever washed.

This will also be included in the quilt. It's a part of his blankie that his mother saved all these years.

When I create memory quilts it's like I hear an angel whisper in my ear telling me how the quilt should be made. I do sometimes have trouble thinking of "how" something should be added but it never bothers me for very long. Somehow the angel whispers the answer. I've used sport coats, ball gowns, graduation tassels, underwear, socks, pajamas, sweaters, and lots of different things in memory quilts. If it can be sewn.... I can put it in a memory quilt.

Oh oh, Ladybug is awake and wanting her breakfast.....

Friday, February 19, 2010

A new day... a new project?

Yesterday was a fairly productive day. We got one of my SIL's baby quilts pieced while she was here. I ended up piecing another one of them for her. She was getting frustrated. She couldn't get the pieces to line up correctly.

Ladybug and I will be together for a whole weekend. Can't do any sewing this weekend. I'm going to do as much work as I can today while she's still at daycare. I don't know if I'll complete a project or if I'll just work on the quilting machine.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A stay at home retreat day

I worked on the memory quilt for quite a while yesterday. It may not look like it but there are quite a few rough cut blocks in this stack. I have them prepared for the hand stitching of some parts. I'll show those as I get them finished.

When I'm working on something like that quilt my mind can't keep quiet. The ideas seem to flood through so I keep a pad and pencil handy for making sketches or writing notes. It also happens when I'm searching through quilt books for a quilt that I remember seeing.... just not which book. Yesterday I was looking for a quilt pattern my SIL wanted to make for her first great-grand. The shower is in a couple of weeks. Needless to say my SIL once again waited until the last minute to work on them. Sigh.....

Oh well, I can't trade her in for another, might as well work with her as she is. (wink) Today we will work on her quilts and see how far along we get. Might as well treat it as a stay at home retreat. My daughter is going out of town on business this weekend so I won't get much work done. Ladybug won't let me.
The thought of an out of town business trip isn't so bad anymore. I'm just grateful my daughter isn't one of the people being let go at Humana. Soooo many people loosing their jobs. It's very sad. No way can anyone convince me the economy is getting better when there are still hundreds of people loosing jobs and homes. Ok, before I get myself in a bad mood, I'm heading for the studio to prepare for a long day of quilt piecing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A mother's pride

I have the next quilt stabilized. I had planned to start quilting it this morning but I had something on my mind. I simply had to work it out or it would bug me continuously until I actually did what I believed was possible to do.

What was bugging me was this block on that quilt. A simple star block that looked perfect for a backwards piecing project. In the quiet of the morning I started working out the steps. I borrowed Jeanie's idea to just work on two to see how it worked as an experiment. Then two more for more experimenting. Then another two more. In all I used 12 blocks until I figured out all the details.

These are the last two I did and they came out ok. Not perfect but passable. Now that I have it all worked out, I can go back to a regular quilting day.

I just gotta tell ya about this cordless drill. It's not mine. It belongs to my daughter. I think she took a little after me after all. She just had her 5 year anniversary at work. They gave her a brochure full of cheap jewelry and told her she could pick something out as her gift. She requested that they get her this drill instead. She said that a piece of jewelry wouldn't help her with do it yourself projects in her new home but a drill would. How practical. I'm so proud! I never thought I'd see the day my daughter thought of practical things instead of romantic things as gifts. (shhh, don't tell her I said that or she might want to return it) They even got her an engraved tag for it. I hope she has many, many do it yourself projects in her future home.

I haven't said it in awhile but thank you to all my blog readers. Welcome to the new people who have just joined me. Knowing there are people who enjoy my blogs enough to keep coming back is an inspiration. Seeing the list of friends and reading comments from those who can't get signed on to blogger to become friends gives me a lot of joy. Both my blogs are journals of things I want to show others or to remember myself or things I want my kids and grands and great-grands to have to read someday.
Thank you!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another snowy weekend

Like many places, we got more snow over the weekend. It used to be that a snowy weekend meant I would be quilting away and getting lots done because I couldn't get out. Not anymore. I'm still getting used to having a toddler follow my every move and wanting to get into everything. These days, snowy weekends mean lots of playtime with Ladybug. Gosh, I sure will miss her when they move into their new house.... whenever they find the right one.

Ladybug had her very first snow outing. She's never been allowed to get into the snow before so the experience was pretty exciting. At first she didn't know quite what to think about actually walking in it. Then she discovered it was like lots and lots of ice.... she's crazy about ice chips in a cup. She wanted to eat it but the Mommie said no.

When the mommie thought she was cold enough and should come in to get warmed up.... Ladybug had a fit! A full out two year old's tantrum. She didn't want to leave the snow fun. Mommie had to struggle just to get Ladybug's coat off so we could give her hot chocolate to warm up. I guess Ladybug will become a snow bunny when she's older.

Today, hopefully, I'll get some quilting stuff done. The daycare is open and the Mommie could get to work safely. I do have the next quilt on the machine. I should be able to get it stabilized and ready for the quilting. The day seems so short when there are so many things to accomplish.

The fix all fairies

Issue quilts are the bread and butter of machine quilting. Without the issue quilts our machines would be idle most of the time because perfect quilts are rare. I'm no quilt judge and also who am I to question another person's frugal use of fabrics? 98 percent of the tops I take in to be quilted have at least one issue. Many often have several issues.... each one as the result of the first issue and multiplied as the top is created.

Please don't think I'm complaining because I'm not. I love all those issue quilts! I love all my beginning toppers and the long time toppers who take plenty of short cuts. Each quilt has it's own set of challenges that test me and my ability as a machine quilter.

When a person buys a quilting machine to open a business..... they automatically become the "fix all fairy of quilting". If the quilt has a D cup center, we are asked.... you can quilt it flat can't you? If the center is very small and the outside border waves at the neighbors down the street, we are asked.... you can straighten it out with the quilting can't you? If there is a gap in the piecing seam line, we are asked.... you can sew it together with the quilting can't you? Yes, there are many issues that come to the machine quilter... the fix all fairy.... and we either work with what we are given or else give up a lot of our income. My motto: your quilt will be quilted as it is when received.

No matter how many times I explain that I need at least 3 full inches of extra backing all the way around a quilt.... I often get 1 inch or less. Ok, I admire their frugality but it doesn't make my job easy. There are machine quilters who would send the topper back home with the backing to make it larger. There are some machine quilters who will sew an extra scrap piece of fabric onto the backing then remove it when the quilting is finished. I don't want to send work away and I often don't have time to locate scraps of fabric or time to sew it on there either. So I deal with issues as they are.

The reason we need the extra backing is because of the way the backing is attached to the machine and the use of side clamps. When attaching the backing to the leaders it's hard to judge if we are going to have enough backing at the very end of the quilting. We don't know how much stretch will happen as the top is quilted to the backing. The side clamps are to hold the backing steady... not to pull it into submission. With too little backing there is little room for the machine bed at the sides which causes the machine to bump against the clamps. This causes a visible bump in the stitching design. Even with the trick of putting a yardstick under the clamps and over the rollers of the machine doesn't always help. It's just too close not to bump those clamps.

Another issue a machine quilter often encounters is lots of bias and....

blocks that measure one thing on one side.....

and something else on the other side.

A one inch difference on the two sides of the block causes this much extra fullness when it's combined with other things like bias.

The way I deal with all the extra fullness is to "ease" it in the same way the piecer eased the blocks together to fit. I spread the extra fabric with my fingers as I stitch in the ditch to stabilize the top. Being very careful not to stitch myself of course.

Once the extra fabric is eased into place then a design should be chosen that will not cause any folding (tucks) of the fullness as it's stitched. A design that doesn't cross over itself is best. Even then, a fold (tuck) in the fabric is unavoidable sometimes.

My motto: Your quilt will be quilted as received. If its wrinkled.... its quilted wrinkled. If if has a D cup center then the D cup will be quilted. If the borders are extra full then they will be quilted extra full. If the seams are not sewn then they will still be there when the tops is quilted. My customers all know this and are kind enough to understand my limitations.
I told myself a long, long time ago that I couldn't take apart the tops to fix every customer's issues. If I did then it would be my work and not theirs. The only thing I could do is learn to work with the issues. For every issue you work with and figure out how to disguise, you will gain more skill as a professional machine quilter. So the point of this post is.... if you are new to machine quilting or simply thinking it would be a good business to get into..... learn to love those issue quilt tops. They will be your bread and butter.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Grocery day blues

Today was grocery day. I've been going every two weeks for about a year now instead of the way I prefer to shop. I would rather shop every 4 to 6 months instead. I've been chauffeur for my SIL. She shops every other week. I changed my preference to meet her special needs.

Today I got pretty depressed with the cost of the items at the store. Especially fresh fruits and veggies. I couldn't believe how much the costs have risen in just two short weeks. It's very depressing and scary. I'm so glad I was able to find peppers in the discount bin a couple of weeks ago because today the peppers were 1.98 per pound. A lot different from the costs a few years ago. I didn't need any but I wanted to check the price anyway.

Here's the costs for today:

Prescriptions 165.10
Food 125.60
Non-food 80.38
Tax 8.50
Total for all 370.58

Ok, that's really depressing! My money bought only a fraction of the food I could have bought a couple of years ago. I had some special non-food items that I needed to buy today. Photos developed, printer ink, printer paper, etc. Without those special items, my non-food total would have been around $30.

One thing I do to stay within budget is to separate edible items from non-edible items and pay for the food first. I actually have the cashier ring them up separately. I use only cash and buy the non-edible stuff with what is left after paying for the food. I line the non-food items up on the register in order of importance. I don't care if I make the people behind me angry for taking the time to do this. If the lines are too long then they need to hire more cashiers! My budget is more important than someone's impatience. I watch carefully as things are rung up and when the total gets to my limit I tell the cashier to stop.

We can't live without the food but we certainly can do without the other stuff.... except medications. Now days the shelf price and the register price don't always match which is why I watch carefully.

Does anyone still believe the economy is getting better? How can it be getting better when our dollars buy so much less each day? I will believe the economy is recovering when my grocery budget starts getting smaller each week instead of larger.

3rd quilt of 2010 is finished

This is the next quilt of 2010. A long double size.

This is the border design.

Hmm... duh! I don't know why I didn't think of this before. When the matching threads are so close in color it is hard to see, I can still show you the design. I can show you the wax paper drawing I use to audition designs.

Here is the block design. I wanted to do more than just line dancing. You can see the sashing design here too. Simple but gives plenty of frame to each block.

Here's the block design on wax paper.

The setting triangles.

The triangle design on wax paper.

I started working on the memory quilt. Not much got finished but at least it's a start. Today is shopping day so I won't be working in the studio. We may get another round of snow this weekend so I need to get out while I can. I won't get a chance to be in the studio again until Monday. If we do have snow again and the day care is closed again I won't be working Monday either. It's always best to plan how the days ahead might go in order to make the most of the time I do get to work.
I want to enjoy the time I have with my daughter and grand while I can. There will be enough time for working when they move into their new house and I'm left here with too much alone time.