Wednesday, October 30, 2013

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

From the local police beat in yesterday's newspaper:

"I'm here to rob your store."

"Sorry, Orange Goatee Dude.  I call bullshit."

"Okay, um, just give me a sub then...which I'll pay for with my Visa card."

When I'm not chuckling at the newspaper, I've been making blocks.  Got a nice pile of them ready to lay out on the floor later today.

Like my scribbled design?  I can't draw a proper square, but I can sew one, so who cares.  When I decided to make it a little longer, I scotch taped a second scrap onto the bottom to draw the rest.  'Cause that's how I roll.

I have a PT evaluation today for the shoulder.  I'm only a little scared.  

(Thrifted skull and treats; glass pumpkin Pier 1)
Happy Halloween! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Progress Report

I'm happy with the progress that has been made on an impromptu quilt that's coming together.  It started with a challenge fabric (back one post) and the notion of incorporating that into a Dresden.

I sewed the pieces together in groups of five, or quarter Dresdens, then played around with them.  I liked the idea of doing diagonal squiggles instead of circles.

That morphed into a decision to transform them into grandmother's fan blocks.  First I had to to reverse engineer them to get the inner quarter circle and outer background piece (trace the curves and add seam allowances).

The little quarter circle turned out to be kind of a bugger to piece.  It became apparent that my usual method (involving pinning and sewing with the U-shaped piece on top) wasn't going to work in this tight space.  I recalled seeing a tutorial last year by someone demonstrating a no-pin method.  I tried that, and it worked well, but you have to sew vewey, vewey swowy (read that part in an Elmer Fudd voice), literally a stitch or two/three at a time, adjusting the layers as you go.  Like so:

Never mind the patina on my vintage machine.  She's got a lot of miles on her.  And a half century ago when she was new, Mom often parked an ashtray right there in the harp space while she sewed.  Miraculously, nothing went up in flames.

After piecing about a dozen or so blocks, I laid what I had out on the floor.  I'll need to trim them down along the white edges so they're a little smaller, since I want the red parts to tuck into the design a little more.

I tried setting them on point, too, just for kicks.  Not bad either.  Another time maybe.

After seeing them laid out, I decided to experiment with a different fabric in the small quarter circle for half of the blocks.  We'll see how that works out.  I've got another twenty-something to make.

I'll be linking up with the fun at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Challenge Fabric and Quilting Along

My sister gave me yards of this navy and white print fabric a couple years ago to use as I saw fit.  She had bought it to make a dress (in the '80s, I think), which obviously never happened.  I, too, stashed it away so far back as to be off the radar.
Recently, I found it again and prewashed it.  As it lay on my cutting table waiting to be refolded, I contemplated whatever to do with it.  Perhaps a two-color quilt in flying geese, or maybe stars, or half-square triangles?  But I worried that all by itself, it might make a brand new quilt look instantly dated.  Maybe just use the yardage for a border, or a backing?

It's mostly cotton, from what I can tell.  It may have some poly, judging from how it didn't wrinkle in the dryer and from the feel of it.  But it is a nice weight and seems stable enough to quilt with, is the point.  The selvage says The Manes Corporation, which I believe is no longer in business since a couple decades ago.  I guess that makes it vintage.

Then I thought maybe combining it with other fabrics might be a better idea—you know, sort of losing it in the shuffle.  On a whim, I decided to make a trial Dresden block with it.

And I liked that.  However, maybe I wouldn't do a traditional Dresden but something else, like a diagonal squiggle with quarter blocks.

Still undecided about how to put it together, but I went ahead and cut more pieces, so we'll see how it evolves.  I'll still have loads the navy/white print left.  Any ideas?
* * * * * * *
If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have seen this skirt I pinned from JCPenney recently.  I don't wear short (or any) skirts anymore, but I loved the design and thought it'd make a cool quilt.

JCP - $9.99 y'all!
So I experimented with a couple different methods for how to make the blocks, including a drunkard's path (which worked okay, but matching the arcs where a thick seam meets was a challenge).

I also tried a one-seam flying geese block and then folding the sides back, cathedral windows style.

I tossed these in the odd blocks bin for another time.  A couple days later, however, I saw a blurb about an upcoming quit-along hosted by Megan at City Stitches.  Serendipity!


I have downloaded the pattern, which is basically a modified drunkard's path block.  Now I need to get my fabric together.  Check out the post here for some cool variations.
* * * * * * *
Here's a tune from the vault, circa 1977, which I found myself singing along with the chorus ("no no no no nooo no no no...") in the car the other day.  Such a pretty song for the saga of a deadbeat (and only slightly remorseful) dad.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Still Here

Well, that's interesting.

I was in the checkout line about an hour ago, thumbing through American Patchwork & Quilting while I waited.  And then I saw this:

Lost at Sea (designer Annette Plog) from American Patchwork & Quilting Dec. 2013
Which looks a lot like the quilt I made earlier this year:

Ship Shape by P. at The Way I Sew It
The magazine pattern has you using "shirtings."  Mine was made from thrifted shirts.  I didn't have time to read the whole pattern, but life is interesting, no?  We are continually inspired by others, as I was by a photo in Country Living from years ago for mine, and round and round it goes.

Anyway, nice quilt.  I like the way the mag quilt is quilted in an overall panto that looks like waves.  I may borrow that idea.

I've been MIA here for a couple weeks for various reasons.  I strained my right shoulder in early September and instead of getting better, it gradually worsened to the point that I now have a mild case of frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis.  Good times (not).  If you've ever had frozen shoulder, you may have just groaned a little.

Meanwhile, the two quilts I pin basted last month are sitting there waiting. 

I had frozen shoulder on the left side a decade or so ago.  The physical therapist told me it often will occur on the other side at some point down the line.  I am doing the exercises I remember from back then.  I think I may be able to kick this sooner rather than the many months it took last time around. 

It has made me clean up my diet.  I was eating low sugar/carbs for a long while, but then I somehow lapsed back into baking, and there were brownies and chocolate zucchini cake and beet cake and banana muffins.  Oh, my.

No one really knows what causes frozen shoulder, but you are more likely to get it if you're female (check), 40-60 (check), and diabetic (I'm not, though I do have a strong family history and a brother diagnosed with it this year).  One theory is that excess glucose molecules attach to collagen, a major component of ligaments, cartilage, and tendons, which may cause them to stiffen.  Dietary sugar, in general, causes inflammation, and that's not good.

Anyway, it will pass.  It is starting to feel like it's coming around some.  Fortunately, it doesn't hurt to use the keyboard or mouse, but internal rotation (i.e., reaching behind to put on a bra) and external rotation are particularly dicey.  The key is to keep the joint moving.

And now it's time to dance!

And laugh!  This seriously cracked me up.  Joseph Gordon Levitt rocks. (I had to Google to see how tall Stephen Merchant was, and then weird to realize I'm only four inches shorter).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Monday Miscellany

Taking a few minutes to corral my free ranging thoughts and make sense of where the past week or so went.

We have had such beautiful fall days.  It's a great time to go for a ride or walk and enjoy the change in seasons, maybe pick some apples or pears.

My sister and I recently visited an old stage coach stop known as Wade House.  A horse-drawn wagon took us down a wooded path and pulled up in front of the old inn, which is a museum with guided tours.

Back then you could wet your whistle on whiskey at three cents a glass or lemonade at six cents.   Rooms were 25 cents or 50 cents a night, depending on size.  By comparison, the daily wage for a laborer (say, chopping wood all day) was 35 cents.

Lots of cool things to see, including the quilts on the beds.  Most were reproductions, but there was an old one or two among them.

I loved the old handmade rugs too.  They're 150 years old and tattered, but still interesting.

Think of the number of people who have crossed their paths.

Here, the guide is telling us that to preserve jam or jelly, one would place a round cut piece of stationery paper, soaked in brandy, directly on top of the jam.  

This was then followed by three layers of tissue paper brushed with egg white to seal the jar.  They still use this method at the museum and have eaten two-year-old jams preserved this way (which apparently still tasted fine, and, more importantly, nobody died).

And now for a palate cleanser, I finished the small memory wall quilt.  I did an overall meander in variegated thread.  

It's hanging on the wall in the sewing room for now.

I also experimented with a block I found via Pinterest, called Anita's Arrowhead.  Two charm squares (and 11 seams later!) yields one 5.25 inch block.  The original instructions have you using 9-inch squares for starters, so that probably wouldn't seem as fiddly as working with charm squares, and/or chain piecing would help it go faster as well.  Interesting technique and a cute finished block, though.  I have a Christmas charm pack and am floating ideas for it.

Migrating geese have me thinking of flying geese quilts.  I was going to experiment with a couple different techniques for making flying geese, but only got as far as making four the usual way before getting distracted.  Do you have a favorite flying geese technique?