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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.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nervous wreck update

After the dust settled, and the sun came up, I walked into my backyard to look at my little box gardens.  Right inside the gate I found some of my neighbor's things the burglars had dropped.  Two bags of items were recovered.  One burglar went out the front door and one went out the back way.  To take this photo, I'm standing where the burglar was standing when the shots were fired.  Notice the car in the lot?  That car belongs to the man that lives directly behind me across the alley.

Take a closer look at the car window.  You see that little spot on it?  Well, the homeowner from next door had walked through the lot, on that side of my house, looking for the burglar that went out the back.  The homeowner was standing just beyond the car looking at his house. 

Here's a look from the other direction at where the burglar was standing when the shots were fired.  The burglar was standing under the little window when the neighbor saw him.  My bed is next to the windows on the right.  The homeowner fired one shot at the burglar.  The burglar fired two shots back with one of the guns he had just stolen. 

Here's a closer look at the car window. 

Ok, here's a closer look at where the two bullets struck the car.  It's hard to see it but there are actually two marks in front of the hole. 

Ok, just looking at the pictures, it doesn't seem so bad but think about this.  The homeowner fired at the burglar in the direction of my house.  We don't know where that bullet went.  We never found a hole.  It might have landed on my roof.  BUT.... his bullet could just as easily have gone through my bedroom window instead of someplace else.  Now do you see why I felt so nervous?  That's how close I came to being shot in my own bed minding my own business.   

It's one thing to hear gunshots around the neighborhood and quite another thing to know the shots could have killed me..... or Ladybug if she had been here.   As Kathi said to me, and I agree, it's only going to get worse as the economy gets worse. 

I've spent the whole day wandering around trying to shake the feelings.  I work at something then change to something else all day.  I'm hoping tomorrow will be a better day.

Nervous wreck

Today I'm a nervous wreck.  I woke up as usual at about 3 am and I lay there in bed for a few minutes just thinking about what my day will include.  Do I work on a customer quilt?  Do I clean house first?  What will I have for breakfast?  Things like that are going through my mind when I hear POW....... POW, POW.  Gunshots right outside my bedroom window, in my backyard, not 3 feet from me.

I roll off the bed, grabbing my bedside phone as I go, and crawl along the floor to the bedroom door as I'm calling 911.  Bullets do go through wood walls and glass windows very easily ya know.  My safety is important.  If I hear the shots, I know I'm ok enough to get the heck out of the way.  If I don't hear the shots, it's too late for me already.  Know what I mean?

Most of the time I'm immune to the sounds of gunfire around here.  It happens so often that sometimes I don't even flinch at the sounds.  When it happens not 3 feet from me, I jump from the sudden loud sound more than knowing it's a gun.  It's only later, when thinking about what just happened, that I start shaking and become scared.

For the past few months my neighborhood has really gotten bad..... again.  Over the years it will get bad around here, then things will calm down for awhile, before it starts heating up again.  What happened last night was that the house next door was broken into again.  This is the second time in about 3 months it has been broken into.  The home owner came home just in time to find someone in the house.  The burglars fired at the home owner as they were making their escape.  The gun the burglars used belonged to the home owner.  The burglars had just stolen it.  As they say, most people are shot with their own gun.

As I sit here type talking about what happened I'm shaking like a leaf.  It takes awhile for me to react to what has happened.  I'm the one who usually stays calm in an emergency and react to it later.  It took the police about 20 minutes to arrive.  One policeman.  He didn't even try to look for the burglars.  The police walked through the house to be sure no one was still there, took a report, and left. 

I believe if this had happened in the rich part of the city the police would have been all over the area looking for someone.   In the ghetto area, where I live, the police have an "I don't really care" attitude.  Am I worried?  Of course!  But what can I do about it?  I would love to move.  But where?  I can barely afford to pay a low mortgage payment.  I know I can't afford to pay high rent someplace else.  There's no guarantee I won't have the same problems someplace else either.

I did have a finished quilt to post about but I think I'll save that for tomorrow.  Right now I'm going to drink a couple of cups of coffee and calm myself down. 

D cup quilt top - finished

The D cup quilt top is finally finished.  Even the binding is done.  It came out square even though it's not a square quilt, its a rectangle.  Square simply means the sides are even and not one longer than the other.   Personally, I think it came out good enough to enter into the fair.  It's too bad none of the big quilt shows have a category for "issue" quilts.  I might have a chance at winning in that category.

Here's another picture of it finished.  Look how straight the seam lines are.

The solid squares.

The pieced squares.

The setting triangles and the inside border.

The outside border, and again, the inside border.

A blurry look at the back of the quilt.

Next time someone asks you.... "You can quilt that out for me can't you?"  Just say.... "Yes, I can quilt that out" because Anita, the Fairy Quilt Mother, taught me how.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

D cup quilt top - 3

Now that the pieced squares have been quilted, it's time to work on the next area with the most fullness.  That would be to finish the solid blocks that I had previously stitched a partial design.  I used a darker thread at that time to distract the eyes from any issues.  I'm not going to use the same thread to finish the blocks.  I want that design in dark thread to be what the eye sees so I'll use a thread that closely matches the background to flatten the background just a bit.

I also wanted a simple design for working in the extra fullness around the design.  Meandering fit the need.  There's a lot of background fillers I could have used.  I like the meandering for it's flexibility of working in extra fullness.  Closer meandering to draw up the fabric more where needed and looser meandering for less drawing up.  All within the same block.  Look closely and you will see the extra fullness is still there.... just spread out in between the stitching lines.

Here's another solid block finished. 

Time now to deal with the setting triangles which have gained a little fullness due to all the stitching that's been done on the blocks.  A very simple design will draw up this area just enough to make the triangles flat again.

I like this design.  It gives quilts a little elegance even though it's a simple design. 

Here it is finished.  Hmm... for some reason I didn't take a photo of the triangles until the whole quilt was finished. 

After rolling back and forth to finish all the setting triangles it is time to do the borders.

The border is the area of the quilt with the least amount of fullness so it needs a very simple design.  Something that will not create fullness in the center area again.  A leaf vine will work on the outside border.   Here the leaf vine is finished.

The D cup top is almost done.  A simple swag design on the inside border will work.  There isn't any fullness to be quilted out.  I'll quilt the inside border and show you photos of the finished quilt tomorrow.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

D cup quilt top - 2

Now that I've gotten the quilt top stabilized to the batting and backing; it's time to start stitching a design on the top.   First, let me explain the difference between quilting a top with a friendly border (waves a lot) and quilting a top that has a friendly center area (D cup). 

When you stitch an area of a quilt, it draws up.  This creates fullness around the area of the stitching.  If you have a top that has a friendly border, and quilt the center of the quilt first, it draws up the center which compounds the waviness of the border.  The opposite is true if you have an extra full center area, and quilt the borders first, it draws up the border which compounds the extra fullness in the center.  Understand so far? 

The main reason for stabilizing a quilt is to be sure it comes out even at the ending edge before I stitch any designs.  But, there is also another reason.  It allows me to roll back and forth to quilt the areas with the most fullness first.  Quilting the areas with the most fullness keeps the other quilting areas from compounding the problem.  Once an area is quilted then the other areas around it won't cause it to get more fullness.  Still with me here?

Ok, I hope you understand what I've explained so far.  Now it's time for me to "quilt out" the issues of this top.  I know the borders will be quilted last because they don't have any extra fullness to deal with.  The same with the setting triangles.  There is only a little extra fullness in them.  The blocks of the center area should be quilted first because that's where all the fullness is.  As I said before, this is opposite of doing a friendly border quilt. 

I look at the pieced blocks and the solid blocks.  The pieced blocks have the most fullness but I don't want to compound the issue of the solid blocks next to them either.  

What I decide to do is just a little quilting on the solid blocks first.  The idea is to stabilize the solid blocks with just enough quilting so the fullness is not compounded by quilting the pieced blocks.  With my hand I spread the fullness as evenly as I can within the block.  Yes, there's lots of fullness.

Next, I quilt a design in the center of the solid blocks.  See how it's kind of tamed the fullness so far?  That's all I will do on these blocks for now.  I roll back and forth to put the same design on all the solid blocks.  I'll deal with the rest of the fullness in these blocks later.  I also used a darker thread for the design.  This will distract the eye from seeing the extra fullness when it's "quilted out."

Now it's time to move to the pieced blocks.  This is the area of the quilt top with the most extra fullness.  For demonstration I've used photos of two different blocks to show the technique.  That's because these photos show the best detail of what I did.

Do you see that the block has only stitch in the ditch around the block but no stitching within the block so far?  With my hand I spread out the extra fullness as best I can. 

Here is the design I chose to use on these blocks.  I test my design ideas on wax paper using a marker before stitching.  I'm very careful to not get any marker on the quilt top because it won't wash out.  I may test several different ideas before deciding on the one I like best.  When quilting out fullness it's best to use a stitching design that does not cross over itself.  Lines may touch them self but not cross over.  Crossing over creates a tuck and we don't want that. 

 I like this design because I can complete the whole block without stopping and starting.  The lines are not going to be straight but sort of wavy.  Why?  A couple of reasons.  One is that when using a ruler I may accidentally put a fold in the fabric underneath the ruler and stitch it down.  I need to see what the fabric is doing as I stitch.  Another reason is that slightly wavy lines will draw in the extra fabric better. 

Here I've completed the first half of the block in one continuous stitching.  Can you see how the extra fabric has been "drawn up" so it appears tighter?  Where did the extra fabric go?

Ok, here is another view.  Can you see how the extra fabric has been worked into the space between the stitching lines?  It may not look so pretty to a perfectionist (or in a close up photo) but for the owner of this top it will simply appear quilted and square.  When the quilt is washed the first time all that extra fabric will flatten out and behave.  Fabric wants to behave itself when it gets wet. 

Now to finish the other half of the block.

All done.  Just look at how straight the block appears now.  Nice, flat, and square.  Look at the seam line of the blocks.  It's still straight.  That's were stabilizing the top before quilting has helped.  

Another view of a pieced block.  See, the fullness is there but the block is straight.

Ok, now that all the pieced blocks are quilted, the next area with the most fullness is the solid blocks.  Tomorrow I'll show you how I deal with those. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

D cup quilt top - 1

A few days ago I told you I would be busy quilting a D cup quilt.  This week I'll be posting a tutorial of how I got it finished.... and squared.   

I can tell right away that this quilt has issues.  How?  Well do you see the curve of the border?  The border is smaller than the center area which gives it a curved appearance when folded in half.  This quilt has other issues as well.  It's an on point setting.  On point quilts usually have lots of bias to deal with.   The pieced blocks are made as on point too.  Meaning there will be more bias in those blocks because each strip sewn into the block is started at the point.  (I hope I'm explaining this well.)

The first thing for me to do is get the top onto the machine, as straight as I can get it, using the beginning outside border as the guide.  I first make my straight line on the batting and backing using my channel lock.  If you don't have channel locks on your machine then put a couple of binder clips on the rails, in front and behind the wheels, to hold your machine in position.

Using that straight line, I position the top onto the batting and backing along that line.  I tack the top down with single stitches placed a little less than a quarter inch from the edge and about an inch distance from each other.   This is so the binding will cover the tack stitches if the owner does not want to take it out but still easy enough to remove if the owner chooses to do so. 

If you don't have a single stitch function use pins then sew a line along the edge with your machine.  Just be sure what you sew can be covered by the binding.  Don't sew over pins, remove them as you get to them.  At this time the top and batting are not attached anywhere except along this line.  Neither the top nor the batting are attached to the leaders.   This is called floating the top.

The beginning border determines the finished width of the quilt no matter what size the center area would measure.  This is different than doing a quilt with a friendly border.  With a D cup top you use only the one measurement.  Use the border that is the shortest of the four sides for the beginning.    Using a measuring tape, find how far from the end of the belly bar to the edge of the top.  Yup, my measurements are done backwards as you can see in the photo.

I write this measurement on a piece of masking tape because I don't want to forget what it was.  I might be called away from the machine for some reason.  Oh, yes, and my senior memory doesn't retain things like it used to do.

Now I measure the other side.

I write that measurement down too.

When I've gotten the measurements, and written them down, I tack stitch the side edges of the top to the backing and batting just like I did the beginning border edge.  I only tack as far as my machine will go without advancing the top.  I will continue to measure and tack stitch the side edges each time I advance.  If you don't have a single stitch function you would pin the edge then sew it with your machine just like the beginning edge. 

Now it's time to start stabilizing the top to the batting and backing.  At this point I'm not going to do any designs.  I only want to be sure the quilt will wind up even at the other end before I commit to the designs.  I'm going to stitch in the ditch around the blocks and the borders.  It's much easier to frog stitch (rip-it, rip-it) straight lines of stitching, if something gets out of kilter, than it is to frog stitch a design.  I use a monofiliment thread in the top and regular thread in the bobbin. 

Here I've stitched in the ditch along the seam line of the outside and the inside borders. Just at this place.  No where else yet.  I end the stitching with a long tail so I can remember where I stopped stitching. 

I advance the quilt and measure the sides again to be sure I keep the side borders straight.  If my measurements get off a little I simply lift the top from the loose end and shift it over.  After I tack the sides then I stitch in the ditch along the outside border and the inside border like I did before.  I only sew the distance my machine allows before advancing again.

I don't concern myself with the extra fullness of the center area at this time.  It will be dealt with later.  However, I do want to keep the seam lines of the blocks as straight as I can keep them.  Can you see how the seam lines of the blocks (top to bottom) are sort of wavy?

I straighten them with my hand as much as I can and stitch in the ditch to hold them there.  See how much straighter the seams (top to bottom) look now?  Yes, there's lots of extra fullness within the blocks but I can fix that when I do the designs.  Notice the seam between the pieced block and the solid block (side to side) with the extra fullness?

I must deal with this as I'm stitching in the ditch. 

Here's a close up of the before.  I use my hand to spread out the fullness as I stitch the line.  That's very hard to describe.  Think of "gathers" you would do if sewing ruffles.  You spread the fullness to make the ruffles even. 

Ok, here is a close up of after it's stitched. See how the fullness is still there but spread out sort of evenly along the stitched line?  Yup, there might be a tiny tuck or two along this line but a tiny tuck is much better than one hugh tuck.  Click on the photo to get a closer look. 

The important thing is to keep the seam lines of the blocks as straight as I can while minimizing the fullness along the lines.  Hmm.... I still can't be sure I'm explaining it right.  The picture says it better.

I continue advancing, measuring the sides, tacking the edge, and stitching around the blocks until I get to the end.  See?  I came to the end and it's still 30. 

Here's the other side.  It's still 30 1/2. 

I tack down the last edge, which has a slight curve.  That's the cut of the border fabric, not something wrong with the stitching. 

Now that I've stabilized the top to the batting and backing I'll be able to roll it back and forth as I work in different areas to "quilt out" the extra fullness of the center area.  If there had been a problem and the top had not finished up even at the bottom edge, it would be easy to frog stitch the simple lines to correct it. 

Having the top stabilized allows me to concentrate on quilting the designs, on different areas of the top, without the hastle or worry about keeping it straight.  I will roll it back and forth as I work in the different areas.

Tomorrow's post will be about starting the stitching designs as I deal with the extra fullness of the blocks.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tornado night

Just when I think I've got a little time for playing in the yard farm, or maybe write a blog post, we get bad storms coming through our area.  I won't write another post about our tornado night because I just wrote one for the other blog.  I thought you might like to see this video that I took around 7:30 last night. 

Ok, how about one more?  This is kind of fun now that blogger made it easier to do videos. 

There isn't a problem with the camera.  It really was that dark outside.

Now if only I could figure out a way to make videos while I'm working on the machine to do quilts. 

Tornado night

I finished this quilt not long before I got the crap scared out of me.  I'll tell you about that in a minute.  This quilt barely fit on the machine.  I get a lot of these. 

I did a leaf and curl design on the outside border and a swag on the inside border.

Circle lord fan on the center pieced area.

I wrapped the backing over the front for the binding.

Ok, about getting the crap scared out of me.  The grass was cut yesterday which made the weeds in my flower box look even worse.  After finishing this quilt I went outside to pull weeds from my front flower box so it would look nicer.  The Morning Glory vines are coming up nicely but were competing for space with the weeds. 

When I finished that chore, I heard the emergency warning sirens start to sound.  What's going on?  The skys are clear with just a bit of clouding.  I'm thinking it must be another factory explosion or something.  I turn on the tv and there was the weather guy saying a tornado is on the ground headed for Shively.....not a potential tornado but actual "on the ground" tornado..... headed right toward my daughter's house.  She lives in Shively.  PANIC!! 

I get on the phone to call my daughter because I know she doesn't have the tv on until later and she can barely hear the sirens.  Answering machine picks up.  Call again.  Answering machine picks up.  Call again.  Answering machine picks up.  I'm really getting frantic when she answers the phone. I tell her to get to the basement..... RIGHT NOW!  She turns off the stove and runs to the basement where Ladybug is already.  It's her play area when Mommie is cooking supper.

I keep my daughter on the phone while I listen to the news.  Then my tv goes blank.  It has the EAS (Emergency Alert System) light on but there is no sound and no words flashing across the screen.  Nothing but blank.  Now what good is an EAS system that doesn't do anything? 

I continue to talk to my daughter who tells me she doesn't hear anything and there's sunshine coming through the basement windows.  For several minutes neither of us know what is going on.  The sirens stop sounding and the tv comes back on.  The weather guy says the tornado is right near the street where my daughter lives and it's on the ground.  Then it starts to grow dark at her house with lots of rain.  After about half an hour of on again, off again, news and blank tv it's finally safe for them to leave the basement.

A few minutes after telling my daughter to get to the basement this is what I got at my house.  She  had the same thing there.  The is right around 7:30 in the evening.  It usually doesn't get fully dark here until about 9:30 at this time of year.

It is not a problem with the camera.  It really was that dark outside.

We had that stuff off and on until about midnight.  My daughter and Ladybug went to bed but I stayed awake to watch weather reports and would call her if she needed to get into the basement again.  Luckily we were ok the rest of the night. 

What I really want to know is why the EAS didn't work on the tv?  I do know the city has had problems with the system for a couple of months.  I'm going to call the city hot line to complain.  Or at least let them know I had problems here. 

Whew!  It scared me to write about it.  I heard we are expecting storms again later today.  With a possibility of the same thing we had yesterday.  You think I should go buy some depends.... just in case?