Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Little by Little

There are a couple things in the works here, said work happening in fits and starts.  If I put off posting until either of them is done, we'd be waiting a while, so let's just talk progress, shall we?

A couple weeks ago, I sanded the mid-century end table in preparation for painting it.  Then we had a cool and damp spell and I was suddenly stricken with the urge to hibernate, or at least kvetch about the weather.

I'm curious as to who made the table.  All I could find was this pencil mark on the underside that says "32 Table."

Norm said he remembered the table in his house growing up, and when he moved into his first bachelor pad, he took it along from out of his parents' basement.  Sometime we'll have to dig out his old family photo albums and see if we can find it in a picture from back in the late '50s or early '60s.

I wondered if his dad or one of his dad's friends might have made the table.  Norm didn't know but said it was possible.  His dad worked for a suitcase company in Milwaukee and a few years later started his own woodworking company with a couple friends.  This was back when console televisions, stereo speakers, amplifiers, and stage monitors had covered wood cabinets, and that's what the company manufactured.

The lower shelf is plywood.  Not sure what kind of wood comprises the rest of it.  It's lightweight yet sturdily made and doesn't wobble even after 50-something years.  Kinda like me.  Except the lightweight part.  ;)

Here it is primed.

And with the first coat of paint, below.

There's at least one more coat of paint to go, plus probably one or two coats of clear poly.  It's eventually going back to its humble digs in the laundry room, but at least it'll have a colorful change of clothes.  I'm liking the color, Tropical Coral from Glidden.  I think the primer coat really helped the color stay true.

The other thing I'm working on is making a strata for the plaid quilt.  Eventually the drunkard's path templates will be cut from these strip sets.

The pattern says to sew together dark strips then light strips, alternating from light to dark about every 10 inches.

The strips are about 22 inches long, which seems to be about the width of the average men's plaid shirt back.  This piece measures about 2 yards in length now, but I need to make another 7 yards worth of strips.  No worries about my stash running low.  I thought I had them all corralled on the cutting table the other day, but more kept turning up, having been tucked here or there throughout the sewing room.  The other day I lifted the cover of my sewing machine from the top of a rolling cart, and underneath it there were two more bags of shirts!

I heard two tunes this past week that I thought were particularly good.  Meaning that I have now listened an embarrassing number of times to each of them.  First, Paolo Nutini (which sounds like something one should slather on bread...I said bread not bed, get your mind out of the gutter...okay fine, he is cute...).

And then there's this by Postmodern Jukebox.  Love it.  I hadn't heard the Maroon 5 song they're covering, but this vintage soul version sounds like it was meant to be.  Wait for the vocals at about 2:50 for some goosebumps. 

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


We had some cooler than usual temps this past week, which was kind of a reality check for me.  Fall is here.

Oh, I like fall well enough.  Beautiful changing leaves.  Apples and pumpkins and mums (oh my).  The late afternoon sunlight that seems to imbue everything with a golden aura.

It's just that stuff that comes after.  Winter here kinda blows.

~Dad's zinnias a week ago when it was warm~
So when it's been in the upper 70s and sunny and then all of a sudden overnight it's 38 degrees and overcast and drizzling, it's a buzz kill.  Fall is like the cops knocking on the door when the party is in full swing.

"The neighbors have complained.  You need to turn it down."

So you do.  You acquiesce.  But probably not without making a face.

I was sitting in my office chair today, gazing out the west window, when I noticed it.
I had not even thought to change my snowflake Pyrex display all spring and summer long.  (It was also apparent I hadn't thought to dust much during the past X months, but that's another story.)

Well, I could just leave it, I mused.  After all, it's not unusual to see snowflakes in October around here, and that's just a few...

*Record scratching noise*

Wait, what?  NO!  If it's going to be fall already, then fine.  I'm going to decorate for fall—not winter (and forget spring and summer, water under the bridge and all)—and for as long as I can, dagnabbit!  

I don't say "dagnabbit" in real life, but that's the G-rated version.  You get the idea.

So I padded over to the (equally dusty) shelves next to the fireplace, where the rest of the Pyrex collection lives, and started hunting for fall-looking Py.  Basically, everything orange, brown, or gold was fair game.  

But before that, I cleared the snowflake Pyrex out of the other unit.  Dusted too.

This pretty mid-century oak piece was marked six bucks at Goodwill when we bought it a few years ago.  I still can't believe they let us steal have it for that.

And here is the result.  I may tweak a thing or two yet, but I think it'll do.  

The room feels a little warmer already.  Or maybe that's just me.  Dusting and futzing with Pyrex is hard work, yo.

Think I can get away with it until December 21?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Around the World Blog Tour

I was tagged by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for the Around the World Blog Tour.  Sarah is one of the most generous people I know, and I always enjoy participating in her annual Hands2Help charity quilt challenge.  I'm amazed how much she accomplishes in any given week.  I'd swear she has some kind of super power, but she does it all without a cape!

So let's dive right into the blog tour Q and A, shall we?

What am I working on?

Well, hm.  Here is where I'd like to start off with a glimpse of a current fabulous work in process, but as it happens, I've just gotten started sorting loads of thrifted shirts for the next project and I haven't so much as a block made yet.  So what you see is a picture of (most of, heh-heh) the thrifted shirt fabric stash on my cutting table.  

I'll be making a quilt called "Dad's Plaids" from a pattern by Elsie Campbell.  All of these pretties will need to be sliced into strips, sewn together, and starched into a strata before I start cutting the drunkard's path pieces from them.  

It should be fun, but this kind of fun can't be rushed.  And by that I mean I will be taking my own sweet time about it, as usual!
I've also been working on repurposing my daughter's scrubs for kennel quilts for the veterinary surgery clinic where she works.  These are simple little quilts, the important thing being that they're comfortable for post-surgical pets.
~Tea Towel Challenge 2014 quilt top~
And lest I forget (because it's been draped over a piece of furniture so long I hardly notice it anymore), I do have a Tea Towel Challenge quilt needing finishing.  Hopefully by year's end!

Why do I write/create what I do?

It helps me focus my energy into something productive, enjoyable, diverting, and fulfilling.
~String Ring Dresden quilt~
I've sewn since I was very young, mostly clothing, and then started making quilts in my 40s.  Growing up, my mom sewed, crocheted, knit, cross-stitched, and quilted.  My maternal grandmother was also an avid quilter and sewer. 
~My grandmother's quilt, as revised by me~
A few years ago, as my daughter graduated and moved away and I gave up my 8 to 5 job in favor of flexible part-time work, it seemed a natural thing to spend more time on creative pursuits.

As far as why I write/blog, it's mostly so I don't forget!  In addition to keeping a record, I also enjoy connecting with other quilters and sharing with family and friends, since I can't bore my former office mates with show and tell anymore.  And since I've got any number of things swirling around in my head at any given time, writing is a good way to train some of those thoughts into a coherent and sometimes entertaining form.

How does my writing/creating process work?

I'm pretty random, at least it feels that way to me.  As far as writing for this blog, I tend to have a general idea and then may veer off on a tangent, which might relate back to the primary subject, or not.  Sometimes I'll relate an amusing anecdote, talk about some thrifting adventure, or embed a song to share.

With sewing/quilting, my creative process tends to be somewhat random as well, in that I usually have a technique or pattern I'd like to try or a fabric I'd like to utilize or experiment with.  I'm not the most organized person, but I do have a threshold for chaos and clutter.  I need a relatively clear deck, but everything need not be in its place or particularly pretty in my sewing room to begin.  However, I can get overwhelmed by too much going on at once, introvert that I am, so having multiple things in the works all at one time seems more paralyzing than energizing to me.  That said, I tend to get antsy after doing any one thing for too long and need to shift gears.  So I like to concentrate on one thing at a time, but I like variety, the down side of this being that I can (and do; oh boy, I do) get distracted.  Eventually, though, things get finished!
~Ship Shape, from thrifted shirts~
My quilting style leans mostly toward scrappy.  I love new fabric, but I think some of the most interesting and inspiring quilts are those that pay less heed to a particular fabric line and more toward overall composition.  And for me, the more eclectic, the better!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I love quilts that combine "interesting" fabric (some may say ugly), thrifted fabric, disparate scraps, used clothing, vintage tablecloths or tea towels, etc. in ways such that the end result beautifully surpasses expectations based on its humble components.  They're the kinds of things that ignite my creative spark.
~Tea Towel Tess~
I love—make that LOVE—string quilts of every kind, as well as quilts that make my eyes dance (optical illusions, bold colors and patterns, etc.).
~Black and white scraps string pieced on phone book pages~
Personally, I seem to do well working within certain limitations, whether those are self-imposed or circumstantial.  For example, I may have an unusual fabric—thrifted, gifted, etc.—and wonder how it might work with other things in the stash.
~I was determined to use a navy blue and white floral from my sister's dressmaking days~
~The apple print was a vintage thrift store find.~
Or I might hear a song, like "Bang a Gong," and decide to create a quilt around a lyric, like I did for Hubcap Diamond Star Halo.
~Hubcap Diamond Star Halo, made from fabrics found at Goodwill~
That said, I'm not opposed to a good old fabric shopping spree when the mood is right.
~I fell for this entire line, and I still love it~
I'm constantly inspired, enlightened, and entertained by other quilters and creative people.  I think we all have something to share, from the enthusiasm of the novice to the wisdom of the experienced.
~Kaleidoscope Quilt~
In fact, that's what I had in mind when I chose the name for this blog.  The Way I Sew It is not really about any particular way that I do something.  It's more a play on words.  It's a twist on the phrase, "The way I see it," (which also happen to be the opening words of my favorite Joni Mitchell song; see what I mean about tangents?).  It's sharing a point of view.

I celebrate the unique perspective each of us brings to the blogging community and creative process—the way you see it, sew it, or "sow wit," and the way I do the same.

And now, as a final part of this Around the World Blog Tour stop, I pass the honor along to three other fine people!

Mary Wald has a keen eye for the beauty of vintage pieces and a gift for telling their stories.  Looking at her crisp photos and reading about the treasures she describes is always a "stop and smell the roses" moment of my day.  She also embroiders and crochets beautiful things!  I hope you'll take time, perhaps with a cup of your favorite hot beverage, and give her lovely space a look-see.

I met Michelle, The Jypsy Quilter, in an online sewing machine forum about five years ago, and we hit it off right away.  We both bought our Juki machines and started blogs around the same time.  She does very cool things with fabric and has hand-pieced (I know, right?) most of her quilts, including a wonderful New York Beauty.  Michelle has been busy the past couple years working on a master's degree and establishing a career.  I'm happy to say that she has resumed quilting and blogging again, and I think we will all be the better for it!

Elizabeth of Such a Sew and Sew is another inspirational and creative soul.  She puts her heart into every project and her talent shines through.  Not one to do anything halfway ("Go big or go home!"), her energy and attention to detail amaze me.  Her paper-pieced Twilight quilt still blows me away!  She's been working on a special quilt for a woman who just turned 100 years old.  Did I mention she has a big heart?  Pop over and give her some love!

Thank you so much for reading and stopping by.  Hang around, peruse the archives, and/or come again soon.  And feel free to say hi in the comments!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Two Little Quilties

I finished two kennel quilts from my daughter's repurposed scrubs this week.
She had given me the dimensions of the kennels for the post-surgical animals.  One of these is roughly 27 x 27 inches and the other is 27 x 33 or thereabouts.  

They will probably shrink a little with washing, so if they are a smidgeon bigger to begin with, that's probably okay.
I did a meandering stipple on the one and a loopy meander on the other for the quilting.  Just using up scraps/stash for the backs and bindings.

Nothing real fancy about these.  I'm trying to keep them simple, but overall I think they're still pretty cute.  Soft, too!
Linking to Whoop Whoop Fridays and Free Motion MavericksHooray for the weekend!

And if you're doing the happy dance like me, here's a funky remix of Earth, Wind and Fire's "Shining Star" for you.  I dare you to keep still! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Sundry 9-7-14

You know how it is when time passes and you don't blog, and then it's like where do I begin?  It's not as if a whole lot has happened either, just the usual things, day to day, enjoying whatever is left of summer.

~A bouquet of zinnias from Dad's garden~
I continued cutting up clothing with the deconstruction of a big box full of scrubs from my daughter.  The vet surgery where she works has gone to the same uniforms so she put aside her fun and whimsical printed scrubs.  I volunteered to make some kennel quilts from them for the post-surgical dogs and cats. 

So the pile went from this (above), to this (below):

For the first quilt, I cut some of the removed pockets and sleeves into 5-inch squares and made this one 27 x 27-inch, to fit the dimensions of one of the smaller treatment room units.  

It has since been quilted but still needs a binding, which I'll machine sew on later today.  It occurred to me later that I could have (and might in the future) turned it, pillow-case style, so as to not need a binding.  We learn as we go, eh?

Most of the scrubs were poly/cotton, and there is a certain comfortable softness to them.  The pieces sewed together nicely and I think they'll hold up well through washings.  This one, however, was 100% cotton and just too cute—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  I might have to reserve it for my own stash.

Norm brought home a fresh batch of work "whites," which needed hemming.  I had to break out the serger for these six pair of pants.

I typically procrastinate on this kind of sewing, but I got right on it this time.  The old ones he had been wearing to work were pretty pitiful and stained.  

So that, along with mending the hem of a sheet for my sister, has comprised the sum total of my sewing for the past week or so.

~A "clean out the fridge" day yielded a tasty blueberry crisp~
It was a fine day for a boat ride with Dad on Friday!

~Nita, Dad, and me~
We had a little hitch in our get-along when the motor began sputtering out quite a ways up the river channel.  

It worked itself out, though, thank goodness.  Dad blamed it on "bad gas" (and who doesn't?).  That would have been a long paddle back to the landing.  

Three adults in the boat and not a cell phone between us.  Sure, we all have cell phones, but they were all back on land.  Cameras though?  Check, check, and check!
The shifting cloud sky was as captivating as the water and trees.
Dad was in his element, the old "Marsh Rat."  A badge of honor, to be sure.

Another lovely time for the memory book!