Friday, December 02, 2016

I felt the need to rearrange my sewing room two weeks ago, so everything was in a state of upheaval.  Then I made the mistake of shifting my living room around at the same time, and now the level of chaos is daunting. I'm slowly putting it all to rights, but it's certainly cut down on my sewing time.

I hope the new sewing room arrangement will be fun to work in, I moved in a table and chairs so I can do handwork, or design work there.  I've moved practically everything, so it was disappointing not to find a small ruler that has been missing for months.  I looked everywhere and couldn't find it.  I hate losing a favourite item, I don't want to have to buy another one, but it had 1/16th markings and I found that really useful.  The old one will show up once I've ordered it again.

My new project is from a very old magazine, Fall 1992.  Orange and brown were all the rage then, as were sampler quilts.

I'm making this Economy block quilt, in greys, lilacs and pinks.
I love that sashing, it's more pumpkin than cheddar in the magazine, but my camera has distorted the colour.  I'll be shopping in Adelaide next week, and if I can't find a pumpkin fabric I like, then it's going to be cheddar anyway.
 I'm really enjoying these subtle combinations.  I have 14 blocks made; they are only 9" so I may do more than the 30 in the magazine, I'll decide that later.

Today I did a lot of cutting and got another 17 kitted.
I didn't enjoy cutting all the little triangles for the SNS units, but I just gritted my teeth and soldiered on till they were all done.  Now I have them all  in little baggies next to the machine, ready for sewing sessions over the weekend.  I'm also going to make some neutral 4-patches for Bonnie's mystery; the clues arrive here at 10pm on Friday, so I will be able to check that out while I'm sewing the first clue.  I'll do 40 or so, just so I can participate, but I haven't time to do the whole 221!


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The last few months are just a blur, so busy with trips back and forth to see the family; when I'm home I'm playing catch up, trying to do all the things I should have done, instead of running away for cuddles with Isla.

But I don't regret that, I'm so lucky to have unlimited access to my granddaughter; two of my friends don't have the luxury of being allowed contact with their grandchildren.
 I treasure every moment I spend with my baby girl.

 I've also managed to catch every cold, flu and germ out there, so it's been five months of coughing and illness; Isla had three months of illness too, so we were both sick together.  She's over it now, and I'm on my 5th course of antibiotics.  Something has to work soon....

The weather has been kind, lots of rain to keep the garden alive, but the weeds went mad, and it's taken me several weeks to restore order.  We've had such a mild spring, only 3 or 4 hot days, it's like a miracle!  I hope summer is just as kind, and we don't have to struggle through the temps of 43 and higher.  I'm so over the really hot weather, can't deal with it at all.

I've been doing a little bit of sewing, but I spent most of the winter spinning fleeces and knitting.  Knitting is so portable, great for travel, but I hardly finished anything.  I'm not that fussed, I've enjoyed the slower pace without the pressure of finishing stuff.  It will get done.

I've almost finished the Ocean Waves quilt that was on my design wall, just borders to go.
I was so overwhelmed by all those intersections to match, it was nerve-wracking lining things up every freaking inch-and-a-half. I'm amazed that it went together as well as it did, because I was not caring much by the end of it.
I don't think I'll put my hand up for anything like that soon.  I need some easy patterns, and some carefree sewing.

DD has actually said she wants a quilt for the baby, so that will be a fun thing to do.  I have a design brief of pale pastels and lots of white, so I will be raiding the stash and doing a bit of shopping for that; it will be fun to make a more modern quilt.
My leader-ender quilt was bumped into primary place, and that's now a finished top.
It didn't use up all the scraps, so I'll have to come up with a new pattern.  But not right away, I want a leader-ender that uses bigger pieces, so I may go back to my 2" squares and make some brown nine-patches.  And to think I used to hate them so much!

Bonnie's first mystery clue comes out on Friday; I don't think I'm going to do it as I have very limited time this year, but I will make a few of each unit.  It's nice to just play along without any pressure.

Mereth and I are still helping out with the mail deliveries, despite quitting more than once; it's such a horribly busy time of year, and they haven't found anyone to replace us right away, so we are still working.  We each do 6 days a fortnight, and our boss fills in for whichever of us is having the week off.  It's such bliss to get up late, stay at home all day, or decide to take a trip somewhere.  After Christmas they will be training a new person, if that person manages to get their motorbike licence; that's the thing that precludes so many people from doing our job. That and the police check.....

I have a new project on the design wall, no pesky intersections, and I'll be back with pictures later.
I really hope I can get back into the habit of blogging, the last 5 months are unrecorded, and that's sad....


Sunday, June 26, 2016

I have a horrible cold, so I'm not going to go anywhere near my baby granddaughter until I'm over it.  That gave me a weekend at home, and on Friday night I pulled out some books to look at, in the hope that I would find a new project to inspire me. I've  whittled the UFO list down to 17 items, (I ditched one that was just a single block) and that seems such a pitiful number to get anxious about.  I can afford to add a few new things to that list without it feeling overwhelming.  In fact, I think anything under 20 is just fine.

I finally settled on the cover quilt from this book;

and worked out rough sizes and pulled out some scraps from the scrap drawers. 

The main fabrics in this are mid-brown tones, and I have a huge number of them in the stash.  It won't be a problem to find a few dozen of them, plus some bluey greys.  There are 100 pieced units in this quilt, and I could probably make it like a charm quilt, with no fabric used more than once. But I won't, because I'm chopping up scraps until there are no more left, and that means the fabric will get repeated until it's all gone.
Last night I made some sample blocks, just playing with the pattern and trying to decide the best way to press all those seams.

 I thought this red might do, but it's just too vibrant for the more subdued look I'm going for.
These two reds are more like it, but I have reservations about the old Jinny Beyer one on the left. 
It has to be 20 years old at least, and I bought it and some companion prints from my friends patchwork shop in the '90s.  One of the companion prints I used in a quilt and it bled everywhere and stained every fabric it could reach; that made me a bit wary of this one.  Time to test it and see if it's as bad as the other one.
 That's pretty conclusive; this print is going to bleed.  The question is, will it stain adjacent fabric?
Before I washed the fabric I stapled a scrap of washed white fabric to one corner; the test fabric should be washed, so there's no sizing or finish to protect it from the loose dye in the water.

And the answer is yes, it will stain other fabric, and not a nice red either.  It leaves a dirty orangey mark.

Now I have to ask myself it this is such a disaster.  I will wash the red fabric and remove the loose dye.  It might continue to lose dye in subsequent washes, but this may just add to the look I want for this quilt; old, used, well-loved.  I think I will use it, but it's much better to be aware that it might bleed than to just cross my fingers and hope it won't.
Back in the early patchwork days Jinny Beyer was among the first people to bring out fabric ranges dedicated solely to patchwork.  The earliest ones were dyed to decorating and fashion specifications, because the manufacturers had no idea as to how they would be used, as part of heirloom quilts.  So those first fabrics faded and bled.  The industry soon realised their mistake and made their fabrics more colourfast and lightfast, but some of those first fabrics are still in stashes, still waiting to give up their dye.  This one is about to be used, finally.


Monday, June 13, 2016

 Isla Rose is now 7 weeks old, and thoroughly enchanting.

I've spent every weekend with the family, trying to help out.  I do dishes and clean bathrooms, cook meals and run errands, and my reward is to hold the baby and give my daughter a bit of a break.  Isla has been a bit fractious at night, so while I'm down there she sleeps in my room so her mum can get a better sleep.  It's a precious thing, to hold that baby in the wee hours of the night, rocking her to sleep and marvelling at how gorgeous she is. When she wakes I take her in to be fed, then she comes back with me to settle down for the rest of the night.
She laughs and smiles, and is starting to make talking sounds; that's guaranteed to melt the hardest heart.  But she's not a quiet baby anymore; she has a fierce temper, and decided opinions about what she wants.  My goodness me, she can make her feelings known!
She can also wriggle across the bed to get to her mum, and has rolled over once.  Her arms and legs are moving in practice crawling motions, and she can get up on her elbows to see what is going on in the world. I don't think she's going to waste a lot of time just looking at things; she's going to go get them.
She has two half-sisters who adore her, and I'm sure she'll be trying to keep up with them as soon as she's able.  It will be interesting watching her grow up; I always said to my rambunctious, headstrong daughter "I hope you get a girl just like you!" thinking that then she would know what I went through.  Hmmm. I think I'm too old to deal with another child like her. I hope Isla isn't quite the handful that Seonaid was.

This has been a long weekend in Australia, and I came home on Sunday so I could have a day at home.  I managed to put the borders on the blocks that have sat on my design wall for 2 months, so that's another thing crossed off the UFO list.  I will take great satisfaction in updating the list and choosing another project to work on.
Of course I did what I always do when I can't get to the sewing machine; bought fabric.  Lots of fabric.  Shonny's place is very close to Spotlight, so I've paid quite a few visits; then one weekend Mereth came down to visit her grandies and we went to Tricia's.  The tally isn't going to be pretty, even though the fabric is.  I'm going to give up the pretense of stash-busting this year. I'm just going to do what makes me happy, and if I have a whole new stash at the end of it, so be it.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Last week was exciting!  My first grandchild arrived, with a little bit of drama; Seonaid developed pre-eclampsia and was hospitalised, then induced. Things never got out of control, but it was a bit stressful waiting for news. 

 Everything was fine in the end, and we welcomed Isla Rose into the family.
She is a delicate little girl, only 6.5 pounds, and is a very calm, patient baby.  She was born on my son's birthday, which we think was excellent timing, as there's no chance of forgetting the date. Her uncle thought it was the best birthday present.
So now I"m a legitimate grandma, not just practicing with my great niece and nephews.  I'm looking forward to this!


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Not much sewing going on round these parts lately, I've been busy with other things.  I've been to visit my DD twice, taken the car to various places to have work done on it. I've gone to the postie job each morning, then started work on the computer after I come home from there. I babysat Tawny out at the farm for four days. I've wrestled with an old orange wool blanket because a customer requested a new binding (it didn't want to cooperate).  I've worked on bookwork and taxes, cleaned up my kitchen and walked the dog, and I haven't sewn a single stitch for a week.  I think I need a mental health sewing day tomorrow.

I bought a Martelli rotary cutter to see if it's comfortable to use; I would like to find a way to cut while sitting down, my back and feet ache after a big cutting session so it would be great to be able to do the long cuts standing up and all the little subdividing cuts while sitting down. I need to find a chair or stool that will put me at the right height for that.

 The purple cutter is for my DD, who asked for a cutter, ruler and mat set; she says she wants to make curtains, but I'm sure I can lead her astray into patchwork.
These simple blocks are on my design wall, with the sashing all cut, ready for me to sew them together.  I have the border fabrics picked and everything, I just have to find the time to sit down and do it.  Once I start work on it I will want to see it finished, so I should just get on with it.
My leader-ender project grew quite a bit while I was working on the tops I completed recently.  I have 24 rows pieced, out of 60.  Still a long way to go, but it's almost at the halfway point, and it's been entirely painless so far.  What a nice little project!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

About 10 years ago I made some scrap stars on a blue background, and they have sat in the UFO pile ever since.

 I was experimenting with ways to foundation piece Le Moyne stars, and I liked the results but wasn't really taken with the method.
 I made 9 and called it quits, and pieced a huge pile of scraps into the sashes and border.

I tried numerous times to give them a fancy pieced border, and nothing looked good.
 So I just slapped a triple border on it and called it done.
This is the exact opposite of the immense amount of care I took with the borders on the grey quilt, but that doesn't bother me.  It's not as if I didn't try to do something more elaborate, but I just couldn't come up with anything that struck me as Right.  So now this is a little wallhanging or lap size quilt, and I'm happy to cross another one off the list.  I'm down to 19 UFOs now, and I can't wait to get another one out of the box and start working on it.  I have a busy Easter break planned, lots of traveling and visitors, so nothing will happen for a while.  When I do get some time I'll be sewing with a passion.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

 On Friday Mereth and I went down to Adelaide for my DD's baby shower; Shonny has only 6 weeks to go, and we're all getting pretty excited at the thought of another baby girl in the family.  We took the dogs with us, as we weren't sure how long we'd be away; they are old hands at traveling, so it was an easy trip with them.

For dinner on Friday night they had bowls full of roast beef; until recently Shonny was working at a restaurant and they threw out so much meat from the carvery each night.  She started bringing some home and freezing it for our puppies, so they have a lovely treat when they come to stay.

Check out Dolly's fancy dinner plate;
Harrods of London!  Our friends brought it back from England as a Thank-you gift for babysitting the farm and Tawny. I laughed and laughed when I unwrapped it, what a brilliant souvenir.  They wanted to bring one back for Pippi too, but they didn't have room, so Pips has to share.  Dolly is such a fusspot about her food, this just reaffirms her conviction that she's Royalty.

We came home late last night, and I was too tired to do anything except sleep; however this morning I tackled the last borders on the grey quilt.  I made no attempt to make the borders the right length, I just sewed together enough triangles so that I had four strips a bit longer than each side. I lined the start and end up with the border, and pinned the triangles to the border until I could see how much excess there was.  Then I just took tiny extra seams between the triangles until the triangles matched the border.
I only needed to take a tiny seam, just a few threads away from the existing seam.
That took one eighth of an inch off each time, so I only had to adjust between 4 and 6 seams each side.  It was a lot easier than getting out the tape measure and the calculator.

Once all the borders were attached I ran a line of stitching around the edge to hold all those seams in place, and it was Finished!  I'm so relieved.  I thought I was going to be sewing on this forever.  I don't quite know what to do with myself now; the design wall is empty and nothing is clamouring for attention; I will have to consult the UFO list and choose something else.  I have a sneaking suspicion that my Dear Jane will be next in line for borders....


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Today I've been shuttling back and forth between bookwork and the sewing machine, swapping from one to another every time I got sick of what I was doing.  Early in the day the sewing was a welcome break from the tax matters, but as the day wore on I was relieved to stop working on those troublesome borders and go back to the paperwork.  My Wordy, Lordy Me, this quilt has been a lot of trouble and bother and it's still giving me fits.

The end is in sight though. I have the final triangle border to attach, and then it is DONE!  I love how it's turning out, but I've put so much effort into it. I know I have to keep on until it's finished, but there has been no time for anything else.
If I'd known how much work was in those little squares on point the whole lot might have gone back into the cupboard for another three years! And I had to change the border fabric too, that beautiful French General print was just a tad too light so this murky blue-grey was substituted.
I have the majority of the last border pieced together, I just need a few more triangles and then I can attach them around the outside.  I don't expect it to be easy, because very little about this quilt has been easy, but it's just something I need to stick at until it's all done.
I have an appointment with this pile of triangles, tearing off the paper and pressing them; if I get that done tonight I"ll be happy, so I'm off to watch NCIS with a cup of coffee and the waste paper bin.  Tomorrow I'll be all set to tackle that last border.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

It's a long weekend here in South Australia, and it's lovely to sit here and plan what I"m going to get done in the next three days.  It's tempting to put really big jobs on the TO-Do list, but then the whole weekend is hi-jacked by them, so I'm going to try and be a little more realistic. 
For the last few weeks, Mereth and I have been giving each other a little challenge as we leave work on Friday.  We each pick one thing that we will have done before we come back to work on Monday, and it's been fun to try and knock those goals over.  Last weekend I wanted to choose the borders for the grey quilt, and I achieved that.  This weekend I would like to have all the piecing finished, and some of them attached.

I've been working on several computer things during the week, and in the scraps of spare time I cut and sewed the units for the two pieced borders.  I work all the measurements out in AutoCad Lite; it's very handy to own such a brilliant drafting program, a legacy of my Survey Drafting days.

The HSTs around the edge are 1.414", which is the long side of 1" HST; it's also the size of the little triangles in the blocks, and the setting triangle blocks. I chose to stay with that size so that it would visually link the border to the blocks.  I couldn't cut that with a rotary cutter, but I have a paper triangle template that I draft up for those sort of strange sizes.

I suppose I could have just gone with a 1.5" HST, but I find that the accuracy I get with the papers really makes those long borders go together easily.  I need a couple hundred units, and I don't want to be trying to fudge inaccurate units together. And the sewing is so quick, just follow the lines.  I did this stack of 30 templates in half an hour, and that's all the triangles I need for the outside border.
Then in another lot of stolen moments I trimmed them, and cut them apart. I don't bother using a rotary cutter to cut those pairs; it's not a line that needs accuracy, so I do it sitting down, with sharp scissors, a cup of coffee and something interesting to watch.  Makes that chore seem pleasurable.
Now it's a matter of  taking the papers off, and pressing those seams open so that they are all nice and flat, ready to sew together.  I can do that in little increments between other jobs, and it never gets too tedious.
The units for the first border are all cut and ready to sew; they are pretty time-consuming too, but once I get into the swing of it I can get a lot done.  I tend to sew them in batches of ten, and that makes it easy to see progress.  I need a couple hundred of these too.

Once I have all these units done there will be the mind-numbing job of making them all fit around the centre blocks.  I've done a rough plan on the computer, but the reality will be different.  The blocks don't measure what they should, the overall measurements of the top are nearly an inch bigger than the drafted version on the computer.  There are a lot seams, and just a tiny bit extra in each block added up to something significant.  I'm going to do my favourite Wing It approach; join the strips at the corners, the way I want them to be, and fudge something in the middle.  Usually taking larger seams between a few of the units will ease in any fullness.  I can't say I'm looking forward to that, but I am really looking forward to having this quilt DONE.  The only way out is through, and I just need to keep working at it.
I will work at it later on; right now I have a date with some seedlings for the autumn garden.  Some outside time is needed, to balance all that inside work.

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