Wednesday, September 30, 2015

On the Fritz

Nothing like the last day of the month to hasten a blog post, whether or not I met my goal for the month. I did not finish my September goal of completing Amber's baby quilt, but it is NOT my fault. My sewing machine is on the fritz again, and I am taking it to Boise to get to the bottom of this.

Meanwhile, here are a few photos of the almost completed baby quilt and big sister dolly quilt, with some of the fabrics I auditioned in the last post.The inner purple borders are folded and dimensional.

Sweet and simple.

Dolly's quilt is 16" sq.

The back of each is soft flannel.

My favorite fabric enabler, Pam, sent me some super duper Kaffe Fassett fabric for my birthday last summer. I finally got around to setting the colors, along with some Moda fabric from a local shop. As I admired the colors of the fabrics hanging on the clothes line, I realized how well they work together. The coral and tangerine don't quite match the Kaffe colors, but all the better. The colors are pushed and really glow. The lime green really makes the aqua and turquoise ZING.

My solar dryer.

Mmmm baby, I love colors.
Today's harvest included chokecherry bark for cough drops. I also gathered hawthorne berries for heart tincture, and elderberries for Wild Elderberry Chutney. Spoiler alert!! Holiday gifts!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

My Busy Happy Life

I am always busy at the end of summer, garden produce on overdrive, quilt club starts up again, weather changes and it's time to pull out warmer clothes, fall birthdays coming up, literal and figurative harvesting and storage. I have to keep reminding myself that I have time for all that needs to get done. Enjoy myself, it's later than I think.

I am almost finished with the last bumper pad that I mentioned in the August post. I have one more to sew. Here's a sneak peak, they all have jungle babies on side A as well as some fun zebra stripes, and side B is coordinating with the changing pad and crib skirt.

Prairie Points coordinate with the quilt (see June's post.)
And, my next goal, patiently waiting it's turn, is a little baby quilt for Amber's soon to be born Kinsley. Amber asked for purple, grey, and aqua. I have some left over grey and lavender squares, and will put these pieces together into something modern and sweet.
I think the batiks may pull it together. 
I am settling in to my work schedule, and have found my energy groove. It means letting go  of some other activities, and remembering where I get my strength. Being outdoors and either gardening or harvesting wild plants is my solace. I have harvested hawthorne berries and chokecherries on our road and veggies in the garden. AND, sewing is my solace. I got my beloved Viking machine back and it works great! Yay! I am making time to sew every day.

And, the other fun event in my busy happy life is participating in Stash Bee. This month is my month to post a tutorial and get blocks from the other busy bees. I chose this wonky churn dash:

I have already received 4 blocks in the mail, and they are adorable. How fun!! Dreaming of sashing, maybe in yellow piano keys... I love the impracticality of a red and white quilt in my home with black fur babies.

A couple of eternal optimists. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Show Must Go On

   This post is different from all of my previous posts. I have been struggling the past few weeks with sewing withdrawal, and adjusting physically to a new job (cashier at a grocery store.) It has been a difficult time for me, and the things that have pulled me through this are gratitude lists and perseverance. I seldom air my dirty laundry. Describing my difficulties and sadness is way too vulnerable for my comfort. I am usually a happy camper, and even when I'm not, I fake it till I make it. Well, screw that.

   Some other writers have been honest about their struggles, and I found it helpful to find out that what I am experiencing is bona fide. I am not crazy. By that I mean, it is not just pretend. I am validating my own experience, since I have not shared this publicly, so how could anyone else validate it???

   Being too tired to sew makes me sad. This is not depression, this is SAD.  Being tired narrows down my peripheral vision (a borrowed phrase that fits.) It is hard to see the end of the tunnel.  Learning new job skills is tough for this old dog. And standing on my feet for a long work day is the hardest part. Good shoes help a lot, but they don't turn a 59 year old into a spring chicken. I know it will get easier as I get in shape. And then I'll have the energy to sew, and then I'll be over my sadness.

The gratitude list is mainly about having a job and therefore having money for my expenses. Car insurance and license tabs are due this month. Check!!

My 1998 Chevy Blazer. Perfect for navigating mountain roads.

Getting my Husqvarna Viking Sewing Machine serviced is overdue. Check!! It messed up July 9th. That was 35 long days ago. Here's my facebook rant: " If you can't decide whether to shoot your sewing machine or yourself, and you have tried cleaning, rethreading, different thread, different bobbin, new needle, cussing, prayer, tears, and repeat, try reinserting the needle one. more. time. "  The underside thread kept bunching up, and even vacuuming the machine only helped for a few minutes. There are lots of helpful sites on the internet, and yes, I looked at them ALL. A good one is on Sew4home.  My favorite repair advice was to floss the tension discs with dental floss. Didn't help. 

   I called a couple of repair shops to see if I could try anything else at home, aka take another run at the wall, or whether I was smart to admit defeat. The first shop, which did not earn my business, told me to "bring your little punkin' in and we'll fix it right up. It will probably take a couple of hours and cost over $200," The second shop gave me several likely causes. (the take up lever needs adjusting, lint in the tension discs, or a scratch in the bobbin case) Each are easy shop fixes but which I can't do at home, in fact, the machine probably just needs to be serviced, to the tune of $69. I appreciate sew much this shop's willingness to discuss possible issues. Thank Goodness. I can admit defeat.

Know when to surrender, Dorothy.

   Last week I saw a sign at the grocery store for sewing machine repair. The gal takes the machines to Boise at no charge (150  miles away) and the repair place is an established business; cost: $69. I took my machine to her today and will have it back next week. Being able to pay for this and getting it done is on the top of my gratitude list.

I do have my mom's Singer Featherweight. Old Faithful. Without it, I would probably have had to shoot myself. Must. Sew. This may sound like whining to a non-sewist. But, I am spoiled for my nice fancy Viking, and the show must go on. 

I have a goal this month to sew nursery decor for Brandee, the recipient of the baby quilt in June's post. So far I have managed to sew the changing table cover. 

The zebra panel is fabric made in Tanzania.

The bumper pads and dust ruffle will match, and coordinate with the jungle baby theme, and the baby quilt.  I will share photos by the end of this month. Just in time for baby Kelton, who is due in September. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Sewing

I have been sewing, of course. Sewing is my happy place. I made a bird block for Stash Bee from this tutorial. It was so fun, that I have been working on a whole flock, for myself, for friends, for fun.

The beaks and legs give them personality, so I am trying variations. I know a lot of bird lovers, myself included, so consider this your spoiler alert.

I made a blouse for my good pal and fabric enabler, Sonja. It is from a pattern by Stitchology, made with some lovely light organic cotton by Could 9. The pattern was wonderful to use, and I recommend the brand. I put snaps on the blouse, although they were not very secure. They are adorable. All of the seams (except the arm hole) are french seamed, the armhole was pinked.

Here is a sweet wool applique that I started last year and just finished. I added the hummingbird and used some fancy stitches I learned from Sue Spargo. The pattern is for a (Norwegian)  bell pull. Our cat, Chai, rings a bell hung by the door, when she wants to go outside. This is going to take it way way uptown!

And, another UFO, a doll dress for American Girl Dolls, started by my sister and finished by yours truly this month. It was designed for Addy, a civil war era doll, and is a school dress.

Some fun little projects for hot summer sewing in my air conditioned sewing loft.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hotter Than Blue Blazes

   This spring and summer have been hotter than usual. Two days ago it got up to 110ยบ F. Luckily, our home is well insulated and we have a swamp cooler that works swell. With our desert air, the evaporation effect is great. Our garden is thriving. Mr. Thimblepie put in a sprinkler system and we have plenty of water in our well, so let the sun shine!
   My perfect scenario is to garden for a couple of hours early in the day, then come inside and sew when the sun is high. Then take a break and go swimming in the river with the dog. Currently, the garden chores are picking raspberries, picking peas, and picking weeds.
   My goal of June was to quilt this little baby quilt, and I did. I had fun with the free motion quilting.
I also got commissioned to make three chair cover quilts, each 20 inches square. The client's cat only wants to sit on antique velvet, not quilted cotton. Works for me.

Daisies, Yellow-eyed Susans, and Echinacea from my garden.
And one last photo. I am in a fun block exchange that you can look at via the button on the right, Stash Bee. I had some issues with the June block, and wrote about it here.
Innocent looking blocks.

Later that day I got a birthday gift from the group leader, and first I felt guilty, then I decided that it was a compensation from the universe, or some such feel good stuff..... And if feeling good isn't your motto, well, what is your motto?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tutorials for Everything

In Boise the annual event to not miss is Deli Days. It is THE Idaho Jewish Cultural Festival. For over two decades the fundraiser has grown and grown. Parishioners make the most delicious ethnic food, office deliveries happen, and at the synagogue klesmer music plays and people enjoy the lovely summer weather while eating outdoors.

I was contacted to make something for the fundraiser. Specifically, for a basket of kid's goodies to be raffled off for the kid's library at the synagogue. I had a lot of fun looking at internet tutorials for sewn  kid's gift ideas. I found a super idea here, for a utility belt. It is actually an over the shoulder sash, with a pocket, D rings, clips, and fun devices to stimulate the imagination.  I used cotton duck cloth, from a pair of shorts I found at a thrift shop.  Here it is:

The fun starts here. Little flashlight in the pocket.

Pocket with snap for (included) metal tape measure, and a loop for a tool.

Back. Large elastic band,  flashing red light, and grommets.

Top of the front.
I had a lot of fun making this project, and want to make another one for my 8 yr. old grandson. I am thinking about something similar for myself, more like a tool belt, to wear when I am gardening or harvesting in the forest.  There are tutorials for everything out there!

Last week I finished a baby quilt for Ainsley's friend, Brandee. She is a special woman who is having a baby in September. Her nursery theme is baby jungle animals. I was given some jungle fabric and found another tutorial at the Moda Bakeshop website for a pattern called Jungle Path. It was easy and fun to follow the directions.

Scrappy Wonderfulness.

Two jungles here, and a wild binding.

I love the Jane Sassaman fabric with the elephant family.

The amazing, totally unexpected thing happened. I wouldn't let myself start a new project until I finished this quilt. That is a new feeling, a psychic change. I give the credit to the past 2 ½ yrs of being part of ALYOF. This adorable little baby quilt is going to be in the Council, ID quilt show (June 17-July 6) before it goes to Brandee and Nick and baby Kelton.

And, speaking of ALYOF, my goal for this group for June is to finish yet another UFO, my sunny-day-baby-quilt-. It is featured in my etsy shop. I have it basted and expect to finish it in about 8 hours. Then, I will be ready to sew yoga skirts for Ainsley and her two girls for the wedding.  The fabric is from Imaginegnats, rayon challis and cotton voile. Dreamy. The skirts will be all white, swishy and pretty.

What favored tutorials have you used recently?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Creative Self: 1, Inner Critic: 0

Last post I wrote about a bridal shower surprise. My middle daughter Ainsley is getting married, and her friends had a fun party game at the shower. Everyone gave a pair of panties, anonymously. Ainsley had to name who they were from. I was sure she'd guess the red satin panties with ruffles on the butt were from me, because they were home sewn. But, she didn't!! I was surprised. I used Simplicity-3737 and a UFO from 10 years ago.

ruffles on the bottom!!
I used red satin and red cotton knit for the crotch. They went together very easily, and turned out adorable. I want to make panties for all of my gals now.. flannel, knit, even feed sacks. So fun.

Ainsley's pal, Brandee, is having a baby in a few months. She wants a jungle theme, so here is the quilt top I made. I used Jungle-path-baby-quilt pattern from the Moda Bake Shop Web link.

43" x 43"

Each center square is a jungle animal. I love the dots!
I went through my usual creative process:

1. This is awesome.
2. This is tricky.
3. This is shit.
4. I am shit.
5. This might be ok.
6. This is awesome.

Fortunately, I know myself well enough to push through the middle and get to the awesome end. I wanted some lively darks to give the quilt movement, and then doubted the overall scrappiness. And, the sashing is totally scrappy with some grey that ran out, then pale blue that also ran out, and pale khaki pants weight, of which there was barely enough! I think the overall effect works. Stay tuned for the quilted finish, coming soon.