Chapters

25 August 2016

"Within Limits" & The Value of County Fairs


When I first moved to my little slice of paradise I had never been to a County Fair and barely knew that they existed. I grew up in NYC and the greater metro area and Fairs (other than art faires) were few and far between. I jumped on the proverbial band wagon 25 years ago though when my first fair entries were photographs.

Although I comsidered myself a quilter at the time I did not enter anything in that division for some years. As it turned out, that was a very good thing because my quilting hubris was much larger than my quilting talents were at that time! What I did not about quilting is, in hindsight, embarrassing! Over the years I learned a lot from the amazingly talented local quilters. My skills increased and I even managed to take a few classes over the years. In the last few years, for some reason, I have not entered many items in the quilting section and almost did not again this year. But........

Of course, County Fairs acquire funding based on number of entries and so I decided to enter "Within Limits" - a large bed sized quilt. It is based on a pattern called "Wagon Wheels" from American Jane by Sandy Klop and was beautifully custom quilted by local friend Keri Leighton-Stome from Orcas Island. As a huge fan of colorful scrappy quilts I challenged myself to use a more controlled palette of red, my new neutral, black, grey, white and splashes of mellow golden yellows.

When the quilt made it home....with thanks to my friend Janet for picking my entries up for me and even hand delivering them.....I was thrilled to see the bevy of colorful ribbons attached to my quilt. We all love and lust for the coveted blues and honorable mentions are a real bonus, but it was that fluffy Viewers Choice ribbon that meant the most to me. I had never received one before and I was tickled pink by this teal colored beauty. It encourages me and I am so grateful to anyone who took the time to vote on Saturday!

We had a special exhibit called the "Itty Bitty Teeney Tiny" challenge. We have a severely limited amount of available space for display in the "wool shed" (which houses quilts, sewn textile items, knitting, weaving, spinning, basketry etc etc) and so this year's theme was created to be not only a creative challenge but also to save on valuable real estate within the exhibit area. I entered two teeny tiny fabric baskets that I had made for a similarly theme challenge a few years ago. There was no restriction that entries had to have been made within the previous year.

I was surprised to find an envelope attached to the baskets. It featured this year's Fair theme and poster and inside was a very special little surprise. have a feeling that I know who was responsible for this most touching remembrance (MzT you know who you are!). MzT is a gracious, very multi-talented, thoughtful friend who always seems to find ways to make an event even more memorable.

I now understand County Fairs much better than I used to. They serve so many wonderful functions. I cannot imagine m world without them any more. County Fairs foster a love for all things wonderfully rural, critters, horsepersonship, the growing of good and beautiful things and the myriad displays of creative works by many talented hands.

County Fairs are empowering, they help to build a healthy self-respect, they engender a needful love of things that mean "we live in the country". Fairs bring communities together for a special annual week of friendship, sharing of all things fair ...."fair food", trashion fashion shows, getting to know our neighbors...and perhaps best of all they reconfirmed the joys that I feel every day for being able to live in "my special'place", and enjoy the benefits of deep roots and long friendships.

 

Have you always had County Fairs in your life?

Do you always enter things or not so much?

What is you favorite thing about your County Fair? Memory?

 

17 August 2016

When Perseverance Pays...or Adventures With A Dinosaur Serger

My ancient Pfaff Hobbylock 788 serger...or a photo of one just mine. I bought it in about 1991. Yes, it's old. What's more it was always an incredible hassle to thread the loopers, and thus, it never saw much use.

My newly rediscovered love of making clothes made me realize how much easier some projects would be if I could use my serger. In all honesty, I hanker (lust) for a Babylock Imagine with easy, breezy air threading and auto-tensioning...but alas the state of my personal exchequer does not allow for such a purchase.

Today I was determined to figure out how to be able use the old Pfaff for a current project. After all...how hard could it be to get a simple machine in working order? Right?!

I started at 10:00. I wanted to be able to thread this darn machine and, as importantly, I also wanted to understand how this machine works. All went well until I decided that I had to get the hang of changing the threads...I generally just tie threads off and gently pull through the machine so that I can avoid the dastardly chore of threading this machine. Feeling as if I "had this", I blithely cut the threads and began at the beginning. Threading the needles -right or left- is the easy part. Next, I very carefully, and very slowly began rethreading the loopers. Again ....and.....again....and....again. I finally figured out that it was an issue with left left looper that was giving me fits. There was something in the diagram that just did not feel right, but I could not figure out what it was. I just kept making the same darn mistake; each time hoping for a better outcome.....I know....that in itself is not an indication of a sound mind!!

About 2:30pm I thought to look online. I was not very hopeful that I would find anything because it is such an old serger, but, lo and behold a very good, very nice person had a "YouTube" video showing exactly what I needed to see and within 5 minutes I saw where my mistake was (yep...with the left looper) and by 3:00 I had the machine humming and the blasted tension adjusted right! Eureka.

By the time I had the machine humming along I really needed a break. Tomorrow though I think I can finally just serge away. I did learn a lot today, I now understand the mechanics of this old machine better and I left behind a bit of my fear about threading it.

Hopefully, in the future I will be able to get the serger I want, but in the meantime I am happy to know that I will, at least, be able to have the use of a serger when I need it. A serger is definitely a great tool and investment when you make clothes...now I can give sewing knits more of a try too!

Perseverance paid off today. I just kept thinking "this is just a simple machine, I can do this!". Although it took much longer than I thought it would...mission accomplished! Phew!

 

30 June 2016

An Umbrella Workshop & A Guild Friendship Block Exchange

This year I have these "have-to" projects that I have mentioned ad nauseum lately. It always makes me happy to consider projects for all of the time I like to think that I will have "after". Better yet is taking the time for a break from have-o's now and then. Nothing better to get ou loosens up and ready for more.

Our Textile Guild invited Joan Buse, otherwise know as "Umbrella Joan" or "the umbrella lady" to our island to teach a class. I am not a huge umbrella kind of gal, but that is partially because they tend to be so boring. Shelter from both sun and rain can be appealing at times though and I was eager to take the class. Our team leaders, Tori and Robin, helped to make to sure that we were all well prepared by encouraging us to cut out the pattern in advance of the class. Robin had made them before and so the pattern was available and she graciously opens her wonderful home to those of us who waned to her up on the pre-cutting offer. Talk about a win-win situation!

Our teacher, Joan Buse (in the image below), and her helpful spouse, Bob, arrived on the ferry at about 10:15 am and we for going. As things turned out, having the pattern pre-cut saved about 1:15 minutes. The total wonder of the class is that we ALL had our umbrellas sewn together and pinned to the frame by about 3:30!! That is about the time I generally need an afternoon respite. We all needed to do some fishing hand work at home ....nothing very taxing or difficult though. The umbrellas are treated with a water proofed before the finishing work is done. Our hardware stores were out of the best ones anyway!

Suggested options are :

Scotchguard Outdoor Water Shield

Thompsons Waterseal for fabric

Candy Hoeschen (above) was the first to complete her umbrella
and shop owner, Bonnie Turman (below), adds cheerful Pom-poems to her colorful Mickey Mouse umbrella
Blow: Brooke, crafter extraordinaire, and new sewist, finished hers in record time!
Above: Guild member...I believe her name is Barbara ...finished her colorful version
Below: Cool Strum used some of my all time favorite Diamond Textiles embossed fabric in roaring red
Lovely Diane made hers for her historical recreation work...circa 1860-ish
Below: our wunderkind sewist, Barbara Snider, made this fantasy umbrella of her grand-daughter
Below: Sheila and her version
Below: Krispi Staude made us all smile
Joan's husband, Bob, brought sound the samples....

My ' fabric find' was a brilliant cobalt blue with white lightening bolts.
A great EBay buy and made by Anthology Batiks.
In another break from the "have-to's" is quilt guild project. Friendship blocks! We have not done this sort of exchange for a long time....years really. Each month one person chooses a block design and color and those of us who have signed up make a block. Next week, July, is "my" month. In the past I was fond of asking for circles of one kind or another. Wanting o not hear sighs I chose one of my all I've favorite blocks - the versatile, traditional log cabin. I am asking for a red and white color scheme using cut 2" strips to finish to finish at 12" (12.5" unfinished). If anyone has a hankering to make one I would be thrilled to have a bit of your work in my friendship quilt! I can send you the simple directions....

Breaks over ...back to more hand sewing!

I hope that everyone is enjoying the summer (here in the northern hemisphere) and that, for us USA types, I sincerely hope that your 4th of July will be happy, safe and filled with good memories .

 

10 June 2016

An Unlikely Shirt Among Quilts

What?! Me wear this???!!!

This is most definitely NOT the kind of shirt that I would usually make or wear. I am not much of a floral kind of gal and I am just beginning to embrace my inner appreciation of blues (with the exception of deep indigos and navy's which have always appealed to me). That being said, yesterday I just felt a compulsion to make something wearable. Something easy, loose and summery.

I wanted something quick and something that I could make without fear of 'wasting' my 'good' apparel fabric. What I had on hand that fit that order was plain muslin...meh...and this piece of 2013 Robyn Pandolph "Notinghill" fabric that was a slight mess of several leftover pieces from a wide quilt backing. Since I had a very limited amount of the fabric left I had to address a few considerations.

  • I did want the the large bunch of roses enhancing an area of me that needs no enhancing what-so-ever
  • I wanted to consider a trying a few slight pattern alterations without making a muslin. Good to go! This is a very easy...yes, you can do it in two hours....pattern. Kwik-Sew K3895 which I have had for some time and meets my needs for a good "knock-around-the-house" tee.
  • Since I used various sizes pieces I needed to try my best to make the front, back and sleeves look as cohesive as possible. I was able to mirror the front and back and found small pieces that would allow me to have "roses on both of my shoulders".

I sewed from the medium size this time around and :

  • I raised the neckline 1/4" which worked out very well for me.
  • Graded the pattern to add 1/2" to the sides as they went from the underarm seam down to the hem. Another good result.
  • Added 2" to the bottom. Excellent!
  • Added 2" to sleeve length. NOT good. I went back, ripped-out, and re-sewed them adding only 1/2" to the original sleeve length which was a good compromise.

I have also used the Scout Woven Tee pattern and they are similar. I like them both. For my preferences, I need to raise the neckline just a bit in both and I prefer a slightly longer length for both.

I have my eyes on the Onyx Tee. I like the small details on it and expect to buy it soon.

My quilting commitments have overtaken my life this year and it was so much fun to just "whip-up" a shirt as a diversion. Each time I sew a garment now I seem to get just a bit better at refining techniques. So no,apparel sew is a waste of time! I have a plethora of new patterns and fabrics ready to make some "new-to-me" patterns. I am so looking forward to having the time to learn some more about about sewing by making them.

As for my quilting projects:

  • I have managed to keep up to date with "quilt-that-cannot-yet-be-named" projects (2 versions; traditional and modern). When you finally see it you may realize why it has been so time consuming....
  • I am, more or less, up to date with my version of the "Glorious Hexagons" project.
  • Just slightly behind with the "Sweet Surrender" appliqué project.
  • Left behind, on the back burner, for a bit is my Farmer's Wife 1930's. I am continuing to print the patterns and read the posts but am close to 10 blocks behind.

Just a few of the latest blocks....



Above...this block looked like a frame to me and so I added my maternal grandmother, Thea Elizabeth Kavanaugh Ellery (1898-1976). It is a picture of her taken in 1916 when she was 18 and it has always been an inspiration to me just as she was.

Onwards and outwards...or maybe inwards a times....now I at least have assuaged my garment sewing need just a bit....but I need to be able to find time to try those other patterns that are tugging at me!

  • Vogue 8585 loose pants that will be in blue linen
  • The Sewing Workshop "Mixit Shirt"
  • Butterick B6183 top with princess seams
  • Butterick B6324 shirt
  • By Hand London "Sarah Blouse"
  • Paprika "Onyx Tee"

What has your early summer and late Spring been like?

 

  • Have you accomplished what you wanted to?
  • Have any great sewing patterns to suggest to me?

Enjoy the moments ...each and every one!

 

22 April 2016

When To Say "Enough Is Enough!"


This block is one of those in the "secret project". Hopefully using this one, lonely, example will not get me kicked out of the group, but it has a special place in my soul now. This is the block that has "sunk" my self-esteem and caused me days of frustration. There are small 'v' points on each piece at the center...that are made to form a neat little point on each section. Our leader is an amazing, highly talented, pattern drafter and her measurements are always spot on. I have made the block as directed with picture perfect results all the way as I sewed the blocks together.....until I began to join the sections at the center! I tried hand piecing and machine piecing...with the same results. After making four I decided that it was, after all, just a quilt block and so I decided to "solve my un-ability" problem with a masking circle at the center. I actually don't mind this look...but....

I was still frustrated. So. I decided to give it one more go and try EPP. Again, it all looked perfect , until I went to join my perfectly crafted inner points....

My point being that is is a good idea to know when you have been beaten by a block, a quilt, or design, or , really, anything in life. Perhaps beaten is not the best choice of words....perhaps I should say that it is good to know when to walk away and approach a problem by an alternate method. Time to accept that "done" is better, perhaps, than "perfect". I am fine with my results now. I tried everything that I could think of, checked and rechecked my seam allowances and pattern size, sewed carefully and slowly, read and re-read the directions......it was my "Ah Ha"! moment and I had to accept that for whatever reason this block was my personal "Waterloo". Hey! Being able to say that a quilt block is your downfall is not so bad!
I had been feeling stifled by too many current projects too. I am working on not one, but two copies of the "secret project" (up-to-date), one Applique BOM (I am almost up to date on that), The Farmers Wife 1930's (now 5 blocks behind) as well as my "potato chip" project, Glorious Hexagons. All well and good, but I was not doing anything just for fun and I had no time to make any clothes...which is something that I really miss.
SO.....decisions, decisions. My friend Janet "gave me permission" ...I asked for it....to let one of those projects slide for now and I will pick it back up when, and if, I felt like it. I need to make two small quilts for children and so, to celebrate, I picked Jenny Doan's (Missouri Quilt Company) fun, easy, pattern, "Jack'n'Jill". I have only bought one jelly roll in my quilting life...and, at this point, I had used a few of the strips...but I decided to use them all up for this project since it called for a jelly roll or 2.4" strips. My friend, Barb, had come up with another, similar, pattern using layer cakes, but since I did not have any of those either (well, I have one...but it's not what I would use for kids).
Can I just tell you what a relief it was to just zip through so mole blocks? I spent a couple of hours and almost have enough for a quilt.....love this!
Lessons that I have learned from quilting recently?
  • Know when to back off. Know when enough is enough!
  • Imperfection really is okay and done really is better than perfect (thank you to Brenda Papadakis and Dear Jane for this quote)
  • When it stops being fun - it is time to make decisions that will clear away stress, get you back to your happy place, restore your self-esteem and enable you to move in a positive, forward, direction.
  1. Have anyone had a similar "road block" project? What did you do?
  2. Have you learned any valuable life lessons from sewing and quilting lately? What?
And now...back to my regularly scheduled projects!