Welcome to my blog

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.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another quilt finished

It's taken awhile but the next quilt is done.  It's a sampler quilt.

Sampler quilts are sometimes difficult for me because I have to think of a new design for every block.  I'll show you the border design first.

I put a bow on the center of each border then went out from that in both directions for the feather design.  This is how all the sides end at the corners.

On the corner stones I did a flower then a leave vine to the center of each of the sashing strips.

These are the twelve different blocks and the design I did on them.

So that's what I've been doing the last couple of days.  The next quilt is on the machine getting stabelized.  I need to get it finished and in the mail by Monday but tomorrow I'm having company and over the weekend Ladybug will take most of my time.  Which leaves only today and Friday to get it finished.   Can you guess where I'll be the next few days?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Making room

I wanted to organize this drawer.  It's been bugging me for quite a while now.  I really don't like my stuff to be this disoranized.  I decided it was time to fix the problem.  I can't believe I let it get that disorganized.

Ok, I found this at a thrift store a few days ago. 

I found this at another thrift store.


Still one more from another thrift store.

I washed them thoroughly and this is what I did with them.

I have very little working counter space.  I like things to be handy but at the same time I can't have a lot sitting on the counter.  The space behind my sink had a way of catching large things that needed to be washed.  That was another problem for me.  I think I've solved both problems.  When I find time I'll paint them a pretty color so they all match..... maybe.  I kind of like them as they are too.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My garden

Well... it's a start.

I have plastic down to kill the grass.  I'll remove it before filling the boxes.  It's three boxes 2' x 6' and 6 inches deep.  There's 36 spaces for planting with the square foot garden method.  I still need the upright supports for the tomatoes and cucumbers.  I hope to get those made in the next couple of weeks.  I need to paint it before we get the compost and peat moss to fill the boxes. 

The garden plants are starting to show up in places so it's time to think about what I will grow.  Deciding what to grow is hard.  I want to grow everything!  At least one box will be a salad garden.  I love salads in the summer so that's a must.  Tomatoes for canning and cucumbers for bread and butter pickles are a must.  Peppers and onions are definites too because I use them in cooking just about everything.  I can't forget to plant a few flowers to make it all pretty. 

Hmm.... my house may be raggedy but my little garden is going to be oh so pretty.  If I can keep the neighborhood kids out of it I may even get to eat some of what I grow.   It's taken me a lot of years to finally get a small garden spot again.  For way too many years my quilting career consumed my time.  I think I can see a new balance in my life now that I've slowed down.  My income is far less than it was when quilting for others but being able to grow food or bargain shop or make my own clothes again makes up for loosing the income.  Plus.... I now have time for life again.

Hardware and thrift store

My brother took me to the hardware to get boards for my square foot garden space.  While out we stopped at a couple of thrift stores.  When we came out of one store he was carrying this and grinning like a cat.
He hands it to me and says "here, I bought you something."  I love the case.  Thank you!

He says, "open it" so I do.  This is what was inside.

He tells me he thought I might be able to use it on my art quilts.  Fantastic!  I think I got a good brother.  I'm not sure of it's value as new but he paid $10 for it.  I believe the case alone is worth much more than that.  I'm not sure how these will work on fabrics but you can be sure I'm going to test them all.  I got this for $3.  It will be good for fusible applique work.

After our trip, he built these for me.  There are three boxes, 2' x 6' and they are 6 inches deep.  Sometime in the next few days we'll take a trip to get the compost and peat moss to fill them. 

We have the black plastic down temporarily to kill grass.  Before we fill it we'll remove the plastic.  I'm going to paint them too.  I still need pvc pipes to create the upright supports for tomatoes and cucumbers. 

My reaction to the boxes..... finally, after all these years, I'm gonna have a small garden space again.  Now if only I can keep the neighborhood kids from messing with it.  They play football in that lot.  The ball hits my house quite a bit.  Now that I have a spot where I don't want the ball to land, it will probably land in the garden a lot.   Somehow, what we don't want to happen usually does. 

My daughter found out that she can have a defferment on part of her closing costs.  Whew, what a relief.  For a while we thought she would need to start looking for another house.  She's doing the inspection today.  We hope nothing major shows up.  As far as we could tell, there are only minor cosmetic details to get finished. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Resist Resist Resist

Yesterday a good friend took me to her house so I could go through some fabrics she was getting rid of.  She has an absolutely beautiful house.  This is what I came home with.  I kept telling myself not to look too closely because I knew I would be tempted to sit and play with fabrics.  I told myself over and over again.... resist the temptation, resist the temptation.  I knew I had a quilt on the machine I really wanted to finish quilting.

At first I said, maybe, just one look at one of the fabrics.  Then it was too late.  I sat the rest of the afternoon sorting and thinking about crafts and quilts.  These are upholstery fabrics.  Lots of potential for crafts or quilts.  Don't these just say art quilts to you?  They do to me.  But what art quilt?  That's what makes playing with fabrics so much fun.

I like those but these are my favorites of the whole batch.  I like them because the pieces are large, thin like cotton, and like art pieces already.  They "speak" to me.  I hear them saying "make me into this or make me into that".  Oh my goodness.... I have to resist the temptation to create any new things until some of my UFOs and PIGs have been finished. 

Well, I finally stored all the fabrics out of sight for now.  They will wait until my daughter moves and I've more time for creating.  About my daughter.... it's not going to be easy getting her into her house.  The closing costs are going to be way more than we thought.  About $3,000 more than the both of us have if we each clear out all of our savings and she borrows from her 401K.  Today she will apply for a deferral of the amount she is short.  All we can do is wait to see if if can be deferred.  We have faith.... if she is meant to be in that house, it will somehow happen. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I got more work finished on this quilt.  It's almost complete.  The photo is of my design wall.  The wall is behind my machine so when I work from it, everything is sideways. 

I got another quilt on the machine and started stabelizing it.  I want to have this one finished by the weekend if possible. 

Not much else to talk about today.  My daughter has the house inspection this weekend.  I've heard this inspector is very thorough.  I sure hope so. 

Oh, I forgot something I wanted to tell you.  Remember that Ladybug just turned 2 last month, right?  Well we are sitting at the table.  I'm making tabs for my freezer bags.  I lay them in a stack beside me.  Next thing, Ladybug starts picking them up one at a time and counting them.  Counting!  She counted from one to ten and started over.  I didn't know two year olds could count.   I thought most kids learned, at best, to say how old they are at that age.  I thought the counting was learned in kindergarden.  Geeze, have I been that out of touch?  That's a wake up call for me to get out of the studio more often and visit the grandkids. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Using mono thread

I was asked if I had any helpful hints for using monofiliment thread on a longarm quilting machine.  Mono for short. Here are my thoughts.  There are two colors of mono thread.  A clear and a smoke.  I use the smoke on dark fabrics and the clear on light fabrics.  If you use the clear on dark colors it casts a sheen making it appear when it should be almost invisible.  I often call it invisible thread to my customers.  Using the smoke color on light color fabrics makes it look like you used grey thread. 

Mono thread has what I call "spring back" effect.  Meaning it stretches, until it can't any more, then it breaks and springs back.  Sort of like pulling a rubber band way to tight and it breaks.  I use the small spool adaptors on my Gammill and leave the mono thread on the machine all the time.  I have two adaptors, one for clear and one for smoke.  I happen to be out of the clear right now so that holder is empty.

The spool, when on the adaptor, shouldn't have any tension on it what-so-ever.  The spool should spin freely.  The adaptor should be angled so the thread doesn't come off the spool and get caught.  Hmm... hard to describe but sometimes it rolls off the small end and winds around the white holder part.

I put a light color thread on my machine so it would show up in a photo; but, ran the thread like I would do with mono thread.  I skip the intermitten tension disks and thread it into the thread sensor disk.  I found on my machine the tension disks pulled the mono thread way too tightly.  In order to compensate for not using those disks, I wrap the mono thread several times around the thread sensor.  If I want more tension, I wrap more times.  If I want less tension, I remove some of the wraps.   On average it stays at about 4 times around the disk.

The way I have it on my machine, if I want to go from regular thread to mono thread, all I have to do is put the thread through the tension disks (or remove it) without rethreading.  No need to adjust the tension each time I change thread. 

I don't change to a different size needle as some recommend.  I change thread from regular to mono and back much too often to be changing needles every time.  I often switch back and forth several times on one quilt.

I use Prym-Dritz mono threads.  I use this same technique when quilting with metallic threads.  Metallic also has a spring back effect because it's usually made from the same stuff as the mono thread.  Sometime a customer asks me to use an embroidery thread on their quilt.  It's very expensive but is their choice if they bring it to me.  I run it on my machine the same way I run mono thread.  I do this because the embroidery thread is so fragile running on a quilting machine. 

I hope this helps.  As you can see it's way too much type talking to go into a blog comment.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Next one finished

The next quilt is finished.  There's not a lot of quilting design to show you.  Everything is stitched in the ditch with mono thread. 

The only place my stitching shows is on the border.  I did a simple swag design to give it just a little spice without overwhelming it.  The owner wanted very minimal quilting.

I didn't get a lot done over the weekend unless you count re organizing my freezer.  I really can't explain how excited I was to do that.  It was only after I realized how much time, money, and space the new organizing would save that I got excited about getting my freezer organized.  Before that it seemed like only a routine chore.  You think I'm loosing it?  Ok, I admit it.  I can't help myself.  I really like things organized.  Besides, as soon as my daughter moves out I don't want all my time spent doing routine tasks.  I want my time to go into creating again. 

By the way, she got the house.  They refused her offer but she accepted their counter offer.  So now her fun begins.  They said she should be able to have a closing within about 6 weeks.  First there is an inspection and a few things that need to be repaired and stuff like that.  Her loan has been pre approved already.  Now it's just a matter of more paperwork.  She's really excited and I'm very proud. 

Organize the freezer

Wanna know how I organize my freezer so that it rotates the oldest stuff out first?  This system will work for any freezer.

Let me explain, I have both an upright freezer and a side by side refrigerator.  I prefer not opening the large freezer any more than necessary.  Using my way of organizing I can take out a week's worth of items and put into the smaller one, which means I open the big freezer only once a week.  Those with a refrigerator box type freezer or a chest freezer or even a side by side freezer can do the same thing I'm doing. 

It bothers me to stack things on top of each other.  It seemed like every time I needed a meat for dinner, it was always on the bottom of the stack.  When I would go to take it out, the whole stack seemed to collapse and slide around the freezer or out onto the floor.  Let me tell ya, a frozen 4 lb roast landing on your foot is not fun at all. 

I also don't re pack meat when I buy it.  I leave it in the original packaging but put the whole thing into a plastic freezer bag. I figure that the original package keeps meat fresh, like forever, in the store so why wouldn't it work as a freezer wrap?  Adding the freezer bag is like double wrapping. 

In order to know exactly what's in my freezer, how old it is, where in the freezer it's stored, how many pounds, and what it cost, I needed a list. So I made one.  This list will be good for insurance purposes should I ever loose it all again due to a long power outage.

I needed extra freezer bags too.  I use only the gallon size for meats.  I will use them over and over again.  Why?  Because they don't need to be thrown away.  I never thought I would say this but...  I will wash and re use them.  The meat doesn't actually touch the storage bag because it's stored still in the original package.  Soap kills germs doesn't it?  "They" tell us not to re use freezer bags because "they" want to sell more bags.  The inside package is taken out of the freezer bag as soon as I remove it from the freezer.  I don't thaw meats in the freezer bag.

In order for this organizing to work, I need to be able to find what I'm looking for quickly and easily.  I decided to number the bags.  But how to number so it's easy to see?  More often than not the bags are folded around the meat inside which means writing on the bag wouldn't work.  I know, I can make labels.  Kind of like the tabs for in a binder.  But what to make the labels out of? 

Hmm... I have a couple of rolls of package tape not being used.  I make the labels out of the tape.  It's water proof and should stick to the bags even if frozen.  This was easier to do with room temp bags.  I tried putting a label on a frozen one but it wouldn't stick.   Removing it from the freezer caused moisture to form.  Tape won't stick to a wet bag.  I numbered the bag labels.  See how they look similar to binder tabs?

So I start removing the frozen meat from the bag it's in and putting it into a numbered bag.  Hmm... how to organize so I can pull one package out without the jumble mess?  Hmm.... storing upright like books should work.  See.... now the labels are visible and the package is easy to remove without a mess.

This can be done in any freezer.  Side to side works better than front to back.  If you have a chest freezer you could stand the packages on end inside a box then stack the boxes.  Having everything numbered and listed you know exactly which box the chicken breasts are stored or the hamburger for next week's meatloaf.  Get the idea?

All I need do now is repack everything into numbered bags.  As I do this, I write down the information onto my list.  I plan to type it into a spreadsheet so I can update weekly.  I will print out an updated list each week and put it into my household manager binder just in case.  Knowing exactly what's in the freezer helps with menu planning and grocery shopping.  This system saves money, time, and space.  Hmm... medical bills too because nothing will accidentally fall onto my foot.

If I want to use up the oldest package before it goes bad, I look on the list.  If I want to see if I have ground turkey, when making out my shopping list, I look on the list.  If I want to make a weekly menu, I look on the list.

I'm going to add another column to my list.  Currently under "cost" I have listed exactly what I paid.  The new column will be the "original cost".  I buy lots of sale and discount foods.  I want to know the total savings over a year.  With this organizing system, before opening the freezer door, I look on the list and know exactly where to look.  I move a week's worth of foods to the refrigerator freezer and move flash frozen foods from there to the big freezer. 

On my list is a column to show which shelf the number I'm looking for is located.  If you use boxes in a chest freezer you would list which box.  When I re use a bag number it may not go back into the same spot.  The newest may not be the same poundage as the one before.  This is why I have the column for where the number is stored.  The column will look something like this:  "2R" for second shelf on the right or "3M" for third shelf in the middle. 

One coulmn is for poundage or number of items.  Say for example I know I'm fixing a recipe that calls for 2 lbs of ground turkey.  I look on the list.  If I plan to have burgers for dinner, I look on the list for a package with 2 or 4 preformed burgers.  My list will also have precooked meals in numbered bags.  I often cook (or just prepare) a double batch, one to eat, and one for the freezer.  You would be surprised at how well almost any precooked meal fits into a gallon size freezer bag.  

So that's it for my freezer organizing.  I hope you find this a good idea and start using it.  You might think that keeping a list is just adding more work; but, it will help you much more than the time it takes to maintain it.  2 or 3 minutes a week to update the list and print out a new copy is not bad compared to how it will help in the long run.  Now you will know when to use something because it may go bad.  It's on the list.  You won't be buying what you don't need.  It's on the list.  Ok, you get the idea.  I need to go finish my own freezer organizing project.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Organizing my blog

Excuse me while I type talk to myself a little bit this morning.  You're welcome to follow the conversation I have with my organizing self.  I'm making it as a post so I can refer back to it whenever my senior memory acts up.

I really like to have my stuff all organized.... easy to find, easy to use, easy to put away.  This includes my blog.  I want my blog to be easy to find what the reader is looking for (find), easy to read (use), and easy for me to post (put away).  Just like with my fabric stash or my studio.... if it isn't organized, it bothers the heck out of me.

I've been playing around with the look and the features of blogger.  I've put some of the features on the blog just to see how they work.  Some will be removed once I decide on which I like best.  It's kind of like testing different kitchen or fabric organizers to see which is best before narrowing it down to only one or two.

What I really want is for my blog to read sort of like a book.  You open the book and find the index.  The index has chapters.  Under the chapters can be sections.  Yes, that's what I want.  This will be good practice for when I actually do write a book.

What could be the index page on my blog?  Hmm....

I have "buttons" at the top.  I'm limited to 10 buttons.  Clicking on one of these will take the reader to a linking page where I can list an unlimited number of other linking pages pertaining to the catagory. 

I have a "helpful stuff" section on the side bar.  I can put an unlimited number of chapter links there.  Each one could be a link to a page on my blog where I can include more links to individual pages.  Or, I could put links to other sites that I believe could be useful for my readers.  I can have more than one of these "helpful stuff" sections.

I could just use the "labels" feature which is sort of like the same thing as those two.  A person can find what they are looking for using the labels.  The nice thing about the labels feature is that it tells how many pages there are with that label.  I would need to narrow those down to a limited number so the labels list doesn't grow enourmously large over time.

Thinking about chapter titles (labels or links) has my head spinning.  There are so many possibilites for every post.  One post can have different things which means it could link to several titles.  Yet, if I'm going to get this blog organized I must choose a limited number of labels. 

Whatever way I choose to list my chapters for the reader, it's going to take quite a bit of time to put all 180 links into their proper place.  Plus each new post page.  Kind of like organizing stash fabrics.  So many organizing possibilities for every fabric.  By color, value, theme, yardage, etc.  I guess some previous posts could be deleted.  When a quilter organizes their fabric stash, some fabric gets tossed out because it no longer holds interest for the quilter. 

I want this blog to be a little less personal stuff and a lot more instruction oriented.  Just like it would be if I were writing a book to sell.  My other blog is for all the personal stuff.  At the same time, the stuff I write about on this blog is actually stuff I do so that's personal too. 

After all, the whole purpose of me starting a second blog was to be able to show step by step instructions for my friends and keep it all in one place.  Beginning machine quilters should be able to find instructions on how I deal with issue quilts or machine problems by choosing the right links.  Readers interested in constructing cardboard furniture should be able to find the step by step instructions simply by clicking on a link. 

A reader told me how she made her blog look so pretty.  (thank you Linda)  I thought about adding pretty stuff to this blog and then decided against it for now.  As I always say when I'm creating, it doesn't need to look pretty, it just needs to work.  This includes the blog.  First I'll make it work easily for the reader then decide if it needs to be fancy looking.

I discovered that each post title is also the internet link.  Back when I first started blogging, I used some long titles.  Putting the links in their proper place will take a long time because of this.  It requires several steps to find the unique link information, then write it down, then go create the link under the chapter.  I tried copy and paste but that didn't work.  I must be doing something wrong.

Photos?  A whole new set of decisions.  I pay a yearly fee to webshots.  I pay a yearly fee to picassa too.  I pay webshots because that's where I started storing photos several years ago.  When I reached my limit of photos for blogger I deleted 3 or 4 years of posts on my blogs just so I could make more room.  If I keep my blogs going I need the photos.  I must decide what to do with the webshots photos then give that up.  I can't afford to keep paying for what I don't use anymore.

In order to get the best use out of a paid picassa account I need to learn how to use it.  Which means I should also learn to use the photoshop software I have on my computer.  The two probably work best if used together.  This also reminds me.... what will happen to the photos and my blog if I can no longer afford the fee?  Should I include an advertizement on the blog so that I earn enough to pay the photo storage fees?  I don't like advertizements on my blog but it might become necessary.

This is all I can think of for now.  My blog will change slowly because I do have a life away from my computer.  Time for me to get into the studio or maybe I should head to the kitchen first.  I have some apples that need to be put in the freezer and a roast to put in the oven.

Hmm.... what happened to the spell checker?  The updated posting screen doesn't do spell check!  Bummer.  Readers will have to put up with my bad spelling.  How embarrassing.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Is it Saturday already?

Gosh, where do the days go?  Heck, for that matter, where has the time gone?  It seems like only yesterday we celebrated Christmas. 

Got the quilt back on the machine with no problems.  It's all stabelized and I did quite a bit of stitch in the ditch.  I haven't decided on a border design yet.  Something will come to me before I get to it though.

Ladybug is with "not the mommie" today so I should be able to get extra quilting done.  With luck this one will be finished and the next one started by the end of the day.

Yesterday, I saw the newest baby in the family.  She's cute as can be and so very tiny.  Premie babies are usually tiny.  She's otherwise very healthy and the mommie is doing fine too.  My brother is a very proud great-grand-paw paw. 

Why is the backing too short?

Have you ever wondered why, despite careful measuring, the backing comes up short when you get to the end of the quilting? 

Well here's the reason.  Let me show you by doing a picture demonstration.  First find a magazine.  Any will do.  The front of the magazine represents your quilt top. The back of the magazine represents the quilt backing.  The inside pages represent the batting.  Now roll the magazine up starting at the spine and rolling with the front page inside.  This is just like how the quilt, batting, and backing would roll up on the pickup roller. 

See what happened?  The backing comes up short.  Now open the magazine and insert a second magazine inside.  Roll it up as before. 

See what happened?  The front and back pages are even farther apart.  This is what happens with a thicker batting in the quilt sandwich.  When you plan to use a thicker batting, or a very puffy one, you need to compensate for this by adding a few extra inches to the backing. 

It's the process of rolling the quilt sandwich, on the pickup roller, that takes up so much backing.  It doesn't seem logical.  It would seem that the quilt would have a bow in it after quilting but that doesn't happen.  That part I can't explain.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The last few days

I know it's been a few days since I posted on this blog.  I was learning new things about blogger.  My hope it to make the other blog easier to find patterns and tips.  My goal is to start putting together instructions for creating cardboard furniture and backwards quilt piecing and have everything easy to find if the reader wants to give them a try. 

I'm the type person who plans things well in advance of when I actually do them.  Now that it looks like my daughter will be moving soon, I'm getting myself set up to go, go, go on projects that I've put on hold while she's here.  She put an offer on a house and we are waiting to see if it's accepted.  If the offer is accepted then the rest of the stuff starts.  Mortgage application, inspections, title searches, and stuff like that. 

My brother's grand daughter had her baby.  She had toximia and had been in the hospital for a few days.  The baby had to be delivered a month early because her blood pressure wouldn't go down. 

Yes, I have done some quilting when I could.  This quilt is finished. 

I stitched in the ditch around all the fire engines and meandered the background with mono thread so that the stitching design didn't distract from the focus of the quilt.

I did a loop design  on the sashing.  Again, so it would not be distracting.

Of course, there are the fire hydrants on the border.

I had the next quilt on the machine getting it stabelized when I saw this.  Duh!  I had forgotten the owner asked me to fix this before quilting it. 

Took it off the machine to fix before doing the rest of the stabelizing.  Things like this are one of the reasons I love the zipper leaders.

I can fix areas and put it back onto the machine to continue quilting with few problems.

It's now back on the machine.  See, all fixed.  Her thread was thinner than mine but it's hardly noticeable.

Today is going to be another busy day.  I'm going to see the new baby and Mommie as well as get some things done while I'm out.