Sunday, October 21, 2018

Down and Out

I was stitching away enjoying my time and an audiobook.  Frustration took over as my needle refused to pull the bobbin thread up.  Re-thread the machine.  Nope.  Change the needle.  Nope.  I probably messed up the timing trying to micro-stipple over heavily layered fabric.  I  called my wonderful repairman.  Would you believe that he and his wife sold their business, retired and moved to Vegas?  I had no clue.  The new people will take a look at my machine, then transport it to a town 40 miles north.  I can have it back in three weeks.  What?!!  Forget that.  Ed would have had it fixed by the next day.  I found a new shop, BabyLock dealer and repair person in a different town, but same distance for me.  Hopefully they can help me in a more timely manner.

So....what do I do now?  I have another birthday card to make in Photoshop and/or I can do the prep work for my next quilt.  I plan to do another collie.  I really enjoy doing dogs.  I also have a photo of a raccoon that would be fun to do.  If the machine needs more time in the repair shop I may even start cutting bits of fabric.

I packed up the machine and headed down the canyon.

Prognosis:  The timing is fine.  The needle slipped off center.  The repairman is also replacing the circuit board that controls the On/Off button, which has not been working well.  Full service too with a one year guarantee.  Two weeks.  Grrrrrr!  My "studio" looks undressed.

Well, I will use my time to prepare Lady for a new life in fabric.  She was a wonderful, sweet pet.  That ribbon is going to be pain to create.  I'll have to think about that.  Any ideas out there?

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you a week of no mechanical problems.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

My Studio

Have you ever spent time reading about and looking at photos of the beautiful quilting studios that some people have in their homes?  I look at them and drool, but living in a 700 sq ft cabin doesn't leave much room for an exotic studio.  I saw a cabinet on FB that looks like a fabulous solution, but I don't even have room for that!  You can see what they have at "Original ScrapBox."  My "studio" is a bedroom.  The closet is reserved for my husband's clothes.  I keep a twin bed in my studio because I need a guest bed now and then.  I have one domestic sewing machine - that's all I need.

Essentials of my "Studio."
The table under the window (right) is multi-purposed;
*It is a padded ironing table.
*It can be used to store items needed for quilting - as it is now.
*I can strip off the padding and use it for pinning a quilt in preparation for quilting.

Under the ironing table are six, large, plasic stacking drawers.  That is where my sewing supplies are kept right beside the sewing machine.

I can set up a card table if I need to design, trace or do some drawing.  It makes a place to fiddle and fuss while sitting down.  It is fills the room temporarily, but it works.

You can't see the design wall on the wall to the right of the sewing machine (in the photo) and parallel to it.  I have to reach over the machine to attach stuff to it.  Sometimes I need a little stool to reach the high parts, but I have a design wall and love it.  The fourth wall is my husband's closet.

So...where is my stash?  See below:

My stash shed behind the house.
   Yes, it is a little inconvenient, but I have just as much fun as the next person when I go out there and fondle fabric.

A portion of my stash.
It needs tidying up a bit, but that will  have to wait for warmer weather.  It was 5º out this morning.  I couldn't get far enough away to get a photo of all of it, but you can get the idea.

The point of this post is that you don't need much space to make quilts that are loved, warm and appreciated.  A spacious studio is nice, but not critical.  It does help to try to stay organized.

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you space if you really need it.

Monday, October 8, 2018


Summer was like a feather, softly  floating down that briefly brushed my cheek before it was blown away.  I haven't sewed a stitch in three months.  What happened?  A busy summer filled with a lot of very physical yard work, a lot of visitors, sewing room used for guests, and some medical issues (DH - not me).

I am noticing what is jabbing me to get motivated again:
1.  DH is feeling better.
2.  Yard work is done so I am not so exhausted.
3.  I am back to my regular exercise routine.
4.  I downloaded an audiobook and am eager to listen to it.
5.  I bought a spool of thread that I need for quilting.
6.  Snow is predicted this week.
7.  I am getting tired of my genealogy research project.
8.  Most of all I am goal-driven and have no UFOs...and do not intend to start collecting now.

The sewing machine is calling louder every day...maybe tomorrow.


Two days later:  I DID IT!  I finally got out of the "do the chores" mentality and reconnected with my sewing machine.  I haven't forgotten how to quilt.  I sat down to the most tedious motifs and finished them all.

Problem:  Thread kept breaking.

Why:  There is one intersection of too many seams that is lumpy because this is paper pieced and I couldn't get the seam allowance adequately flattened at an early stage.  I am micro-stippling some very small pieces that are stitched together - black on black.  Urrrrgh!

The red circle is the nasty area of heavy seam allowance that defies the needle.

Trying to solve the problem:
Change the needle.  No help.
Change from the old thread to the new spool I bought last week.  No help.
Be careful.

Solution:  Be careful and gently work around the spot.  The presser foot sometimes gets too high over the bump so the needle can't connect with the bobbin thread.  I don't see that there is much else that can be done at this point.  It really isn't noticeable, but judges might ding me for it.  Oh well!

If you look closely you will see the stitches in the black seams.  I sewed the quilt together with medium gray thread.  If those stitches remain noticeable I will run a permanent black pen over them and they will magically disappear.  In other places a little glue shows, but it will disappear when I soak the finished quilt.

I am eagerly looking forward to tomorrow when I can do some quilting that is more fun than micro-stippling.

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you lots of motivation and no stitching problems

Monday, September 3, 2018

Back in the Saddle...almost

I am ready to sew again.  The summer was too crazy and I just couldn't summon the energy.  However, if you follow me regularly you know that I created other things.  I enjoy my "quilted" fence and found some gorgeous, big, colorful hummingbirds to hang on it.  No butterflies yet, but they are in my future. Crowds of family and friends have spent time here visiting, hiking, eating and laughing.  Life was constantly crazy and fun.  We were packed tight in our little cabin, but no one complained.

I make birthday cards for all my kids and grandkids and September is a mad month with six birthdays.  Each card features at least two photos of the person, a unique design and a personal note.  I am getting started on these as I clean up the sewing room, which served as an extra bedroom when the family was here.  I will get back to sewing in a day or two as I process all the laundry and get the room back into sewing mode.

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite cards from over the years.  These are designed to be folded in half horizontally to form a card about 4" x 5".  The inside of the card has a couple more pictures with the same theme as well as a short, personal note.  I use photos from my personal collection and create a collage for each card in Photoshop.  Playtime!

He will soon be applying to the Air Force Academy (probably).

She is currently a junior in college.

Marshmallow boy... college graduate.
I seem to always find time to create something and along the way get ideas for quilts.

Sew some happy seams this week or create something that gives you joy.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Quilting in a New Medium

DH built me a fence, but it is really a tall screen behind which I can hide the garden tools, wheelbarrows, recycling, garbage can...all the detritus of household and landscape management.  We have a faux pond, which we built to catch runoff when we have our occasional gully-washers.  It is a landscape feature with plantings in and around it.  The junkyard behind it was not attractive and spoiled the whole picture.  The fence is doing its job, but was boring and stood out like a sore thumb with its bright, fresh wood.  Odd looking.

I gathered up some flat slabs of old, gray wood that have been lying around the yard for years and years.  I arranged them on the fence and DH attached them.  The fencing is a calm, repetitive background, but too bright.  The irregular, weathered slabs added interest reminiscent of a modern quilt, and toned down the brilliance, but it still lacked something.

 It needed some quilting!

My grandfather bought this cabin in 1938.  He built a little porch where the view is best and put up 3 inch poles around it as rails.  Then he collected a lot of shapely, mountain driftwood and painted it brown like the house.  He nailed all the driftwood pieces to the poles instead of regular balusters to keep us kids from falling off the porch.  Several years ago we built a new, much larger deck across the house and those pieces of driftwood have been sitting around with nothing to do.  What better use for them than to "quilt" my fence....and so I did!  They add texture, contrast and design.  It is all a bit funky, but fun.  It has meaning to my family.  It is functional.  I love it.

"Quilted Fence"
Now, for some big, metal butterflies to add the final touch.  I'll know them when I see them.

Showing a bit of the faux pond, wildflowers and iris.
Try something in a different medium this week.  Broaden your horizons.  Have fun.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Yo-Yo Quilting

This title does not refer to making fabric yo-yos.  Not my thing, but my daughter loves doing them and has several forms to help the process.  I read an article about yo-yo exercising and how bad it is for you.  That means stopping your regular exercise routine for awhile, going back to the routine, dropping it again, etc.  Supposedly this is hard on your muscles, joints and heart.  This summer I have been yo-yo quilting, which means I haven't gotten much done on my quilt.  I have been stitching my yard together instead as you know if you have followed my last few posts.  I doubt that the start and stop, lack of routine of quilting every day is going to affect my physical health.   My mental health is keeping in shape with other accomplishments around the place, and now I am looking at three wonderful weeks of family visits and gatherings so the poor quilt will probably continue to moulder until life returns to normal in September.  By then I will be so eager to return to the peace of quiet quilting every day.

My mother was a happy, creative soul and collected books and pamplets on how to do this and that.  She had a wide range of handwork interests and made beautiful things, including a few quilts.  My sister was going through stuff last week and turned some of Mom's old books over to me.  I have had fun going through them, but they are at least 70 years old and don't hold much interest anymore as today's techniques and tools have moved far beyond the scope of these books. However, I found a quote in one that is apropos of quilting (and other pursuits):

"One is happy as a result of one's own efforts, once one knows the necessary ingredients of happiness -- simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self denial to a point, love of work, and, above all, a clear conscience.  Happiness is no vague dream, of that I [k]now for certain."  George Sand (Amadine Dupin), writer.

Making things keeps me joyful:  quilts, garden beds, jam, log piles, photos.....

Log pile
My log pile is a thing of beauty compared to the ugly slash pile that used to be there.

My struggling iris
We had to hook up to the city sewer this year and the big digging machines tore up the yard badly.  I had to dig up my iris in the middle of winter, trim them, wash them, dry them, and store them in the basement.  When I pulled them out to replant in June they were desiccated versions of their former selves.  It seemed hopeless to plant them, but I did.  They may look puny, but most of them are growing.  I hope they make it through the winter.

I have wanted hollyhocks for years.  I planted seeds last summer and they got about 2 inches tall.  I wondered if they would make it through the winter.  They did and I have a pink bloom ready to burst.

Sew some happy seams this week or enjoy some activity that keeps your mind and body busy.  I wish you joy and happiness.  Now I am off to buy some blueberries for the final batch of jam.

Sunday, July 29, 2018


What did you think of when you read the title of this post?  Travel?  Beaches?  Baseball games?  Picnics?  Scenic drives?  Vacation? Floating down a river?  Nice thoughts, but not at my house.  Instead I have been busy using the chain saw to cut big tree limbs into logs, pulling weeds, burning slash, cleaning house, making jam, sculpting the landscape, transplanting.  There is always something that needs to be done.  The only regular thing in my life right now is walking the dog every morning.  Sewing is not.

Why is sewing off the schedule?  I have been working on this quilt for a year now.  I am not tired of doing it, but I guess I needed a break.  I have so many ideas in my head, but I find myself having to do some tedious micro-stippling, black on black on background parts.  Don't get me wrong...I love to quilt, but all the other activities have kept me so tired that it seemed like a break would be a good thing.  It won't last long because I derive such joy from stitching when I am not inundated with all the other things that can only be done now in the summertime.

I love gaillardia and someday may make a quilt featuring one or more.  Heaven knows I have enough photos of them.  I made the following film strip in Photoshop.  Just another way to create.

 Enjoy your summertime.  I wish you no fires or floods, but lots of outdoor fun.

Monday, July 16, 2018


So sorry.  No quilting this week.  I am cleaning up a horrible, ugly mess of tree branches that have piled up over the years.  They are the result of fire mitigation as we live in a dry climate and summer is dangerous for us even though we live up in the mountains.  One to two hours in the morning wielding a chain saw and loppers, building a log stack, and burning the little stuff has left me like a pile of jello by noon.  No sewing under those conditions so I am doing genealogy research.  I don't need a seam ripper for that, just the delete key.

We are enjoying this year's batch of mule deer fawns.  One day the mama left her speckled twins in our care as she went off to forage for awhile.  This is normal behavior and the little ones stay put until mom returns.  Some people think they have been abandoned, but that is not so.  Don't ever try to handle  or "rescue" them.  Instead enjoy them from a distance as a precious gift..

Sew some happy seams this week or enjoy the gifts of summertime.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Block Party Adventure

I am on a roll.  Every new block that requires a design ends up getting changed.  Should I have done some sort of overall design for this quilt?  I keep second guessing myself, but the mosaic-type design and bold colors don't lend themselves to an overall design in my mind.  Maybe I am losing my mind!

Case in point:
I have four turquoise blocks that anchor the corners of the design.  What to do with them?  I came up with a design I liked and I posted it last week, but here it is again.

When I look at it I see some wimpy red feathers and a bunch of pebbles that compete with the feathers.  It looks OK, but I want more than OK.  Yesterday I did a second one and made some changes.  I added mini-spines in each leaf of the feathers and in the process built up the red thread in the main spine.  Wow!  What a difference.  Now the feathers are calling to the eye to look at them.  I quit for the day before doing the pebbles.  Oh my, I like it better without them.  The photo doesn't really show the puff, but now the center is enhanced by a puffy frame.  The design is delicate and bold at the same time.  This block is only 4 inches so the frame isn't huge.  I am going to rip out the pebbles of the first block and do the rest without them. I can always put something in there if I want to.  Maybe it needs another line to echo the outside curve.  Time will tell and I will decide when I can see all four corners finished.

And that, my friends, is how I quilt:  by the seat of my pants with the seam ripper nearby.

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you adventurous quilting to keep you fresh.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Stitch or Puff - Evolution of a Design

I have four blocks on this quilt that are turquoise, as opposed to the black and rust of all the other blocks.  I stitched out the design I had drawn.  It had gold quilting in the center in a wavy grid, which I did first.  By the time I finished the rest of the quilting I noticed that the gold didn't even show.  It had no character.  What do do?  I decided to remove the gold stitching from the 2 inch center.  Then I sprayed it with water to relax the fibers.  As I walked by later I noticed the the center of the block now puffed up and looked so pretty, except for the seam down the middle.

Gold removed.  You can see old stitch marks.  Nice puff in the center square. 
  I placed a pin perpendicular to the seam to see what it would look like with four quadrants defined.  Voila!  I liked the puff in four quarters better than the closer stitching that had been there.  So...I stitched two straight, perpendicular lines and then a little, accent line in between, all with gold.  The gold still doesn't show much, but the puff does.  In the right light there is a bit of glitz visible.

Gold stitching in the center.  Puff remains.
TIP:  Sometimes you can't plan ahead, so be open to ideas as they stumble across your quilt.

I don't like the poor backstitching on two of the feathers.  I think I will do them over because they are so visible with the red thread.  Yes, I know!  I am fussy.

Sew some happy seams this week.  I wish you design serendipity.