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.

Ta-Daah!!
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.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Spoiler Alert

I already spilled the beans to middle daughter, Ainsley, and mentioned her (surprise) bridal shower, coming up. She knew about it, but said, "what shower?" Oooops. I might be able to attend, but it is iffy at this point. My sewing goal for May is a gift for the surprise shower, and the even more surprise party game. I won't tell you what I am sewing, but I promise to show before and (hopefully) after photos at the end of the month. The wedding is July 4th, in Boise at Municipal Park by the Boise River. I am excited to be sewing swishy skirts for the flower girls, and a pretty dress for myself as well. The girls' skirts will be white, and my dress will be solid summer green. I will be using rayon challis over double gauze from Imagine Gnats, a fun online shop, blog, and sew much more. If you are interested in checking out the fabric, you can click on the link at the right side of my blog. She also has patterns, many of them free downloads. I especially love the variety of adult sized garment patterns that are available.

Last month my sweet sister, Pam, came to visit and teach at my quilt guild's retreat. She shared a fairly new ruler and technique with us, the Quick Curve Ruler (QCR) from Sew Kind of Wonderful. Here are some highlights from retreat:

Leona happily creating.

Pam rocks the hair tie.

My sample poinsettia, with the QCR.

Jody from Homegrown Quilts sewed the rows and borders of this group project.

Adorable Pam, showing her pressology expertise.

Pam finished this "Metro Scope" quilt top, one of the patterns using the QCR.
I finally finished the quilt top for Dianne, the Utah Star. It looks about the same as the photo before I sewed the edges, but here it is anyway. Pam is going to quilt it. It is about 90" square, almost king-size. As a nod to Dianne's mama, and her Utah heritage, there will be bee hives quilted into the corners. I can't wait to see it finished!!!

Dianne Hunt's Utah Star, pieced by her mama, Ramona Shurtliff.
Other news update, the toad is active in the garden, a fat female chirping and peeing when picked up. (I just learned that the females are the ones with those behaviors... ) I am so glad to have an organic garden, and to witness the wildlife. We have a baby cotton tail rabbit in the garden as well. The stuff of stories...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Artist Will Prevail

Now I see why her mom cried over this lone star quilt top. It lies flat but the bias is taunting me. The artist will prevail where the perfectionist tailor was stymied. It is gorgeous and I know she will love it! Here it is, ready for pattern pieces of the corners. I had to add the olive-brown edging to help it play nicely with the ecru corners. It will be 3-dimensional to the rest of the top. 

I will have to hand shimmy the diamonds to work this star into submission.Completing this top was my February goal, and since I didn't get it done, it is my March goal for ALYOF . I drew the pattern pieces, so cutting and sewing them will be next. 

In other blog news, I made blocks for Stash Bee's block exchange for January and February. The bar is set very high for quality, fabric selection, and fun. The tutorials are easy to follow, and so far I have wanted to make myself quilts with these designs. 

January's Hunter's Star 16 ½" sq.

February's String 9 " sq.
I pulled out a very old UFO from a class I took over 20 yrs ago in Seattle, "Special Effects, Iridescence/Opalescence" on color theory. I put together the pieces and here it is. The upper left corner is iridescent, the rest is opalescent. I thought it looked like an eye. I added a border that makes me think of hawk feathers, and named this, "Eye of the Raptor."I am not sure the hot pink will work. I may need to make it paler. I might try covering it with some tulle. Stay tuned.