Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What to say about May?

May is a funny month temperature wise - cold in the beginning, warm in the end!
So, let's see... the beginning of the month was cold and rainy - we did lots of indoor projects including a fair amount of arts/crafts. Our living room floor was taken over by the Hot Wheels track and we spent many hours creating new roads, hills and valleys and zooming the cars back and forth. For 80 cents per track piece - I must say we certainly got our moneys worth out of this simple toy!
I've been slowly picking away on different sewing projects. Here is a photo of my red ocean waves (Amy asked me about it a few posts ago - and this is my progress so far). I think this top has a good chance of being finished by the end of the summer and I know that once it is done I will be very happy with it - just got to get it to that stage! I also have hand sewn all my string tulip raw edges under - ready to machine applique now! And the flannel blanket for Little Boy. Sometimes at night I will pick up 1 of 2 knitting projects. Plus, I also started sewing all my purple/blue/pink strips into Chinese Coins as part of Judy's May stashbuster challenge - because I have a piece of dark blue fabric to use for the alternating solid columns!
Over the winter... some of the siding blew off the back of the house. I wanted the carpenter to just nail it back on -but the underside was completely rotted out. So - this is what that side of the house looks like right now. May seems to have been a month of things breaking!!! The side of the house, my lithium camera battery wouldn't take a charge anymore ($80 to replace!), the circuit board on my Janome 9000 (still don't know what that will cost to fix), AND the circuit board on my washing machine (a very expensive part), plus the repairman had to come out for the dishwasher. I also thought that my favorite kitchen knife was lost, but thankfully I found it - BEFORE I replaced it (phew!)! I usually cook withonly 2 knives (a chef's knife and a small knife) - both excellent quality. Loosing a favorite knife is NOT a good thing for me, so I was happy when it turned up.
May brings my birthday - and I always try to make my own cake. I like homemade cake and I like trying new recipes. Of course, for my own birthday I am always torn between a tried and true recipe or experimenting - this year I went with a new recipe... will have to share the recipe later!
And then, finally, finally, finally - the weather warms up. Now mind you - just a week ago our water pipes FROZE, so warm weather is a welcome change! And, once the warm weather hits - we are outside. The back of my truck loaded with periannals (the shop did a super-great job on fixing my truck from when I hit the deer)! I can't wait to see what these lovely additions will do for my beds! My NEW grill (up at my trailer - I love it so much now I am thinking I "need" one for home too?)!!!! Little Boy watering the new plants before they were planted - he loves to help Momma garden. And - although still a tiny bit chilly for the pool - he was anxious to get his pool set up - not to "swim" or sit in - but to play with his boats and toy fish. Oh - any excuse for a Little Boy to play with water!
So - that was May - in a small photo summary. My favorite days was the week spent up at the trailer, the 3 of us together as a family. DH got my grill all set up for me and we enjoyed being outside on the deck and cooking yummy dinners tremendously! It was a relaxing get-away!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Blanket progress

Remember the flannel Little Boy picked out for a blanket at Marden's? Well, in between our busy day to day doings, we ARE making some progress on the blanket. While my initial thought was to just layer the 2 pieces of flannel together and do some simple free-hand quilting (see the picture of the flower)... Little Boy had other ideas!

He wanted Elmo, monster trucks, trains from Thomas... Humm, what to do? I photocopied coloring book pages and printed pictures off the internet, taped them to the flannel and stitched around them! It went really fast - I dropped the feed dogs, put on the little round foot and just kept my speed consistent. I tried to keep my stitches on the smaller side to make it easier to remove the paper. Maybe not award winning, but certainly a winner in my son's very happy eyes! Go ahead - give it a try!

I have just a few more designs to sew on and then comes the binding. My husband was a bit surprised that I didn't use any batting, but it is a summer blanket and I don't want it to be too hot!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

No comments!

I didn't remove the comments from my last post - it must be a Blogger hic-cup.

My Thoughts On Sewing Clothes...

OK - so I know that my son is almost 4 years old, but here are some baby photos! Wasn't he cute? Anyway these are photos to illustrate how useful it can sometimes be to know how to sew clothes!

Here we go: the 2 of us just before leaving the hospital (I'm wearing pregnancy clothes - and believe me, by this stage in the game I was pretty tired of them!), at home when he is about a week old (I'm wearing my DH's shirt), and finally - when he is 2 and 3 months old - I am wearing nursing dresses that I made. All I can say - thank goodness I know how sew because I loved these dresses! They were sooo comfortable, light and cool, never wrinkled (great choice of fabric on my part) totally washable (I pre-washed the fabric first so no fears of shrinking!), and, I think they were pretty. I felt good wearing them. Every sleep deprived, nursing Momma should be lucky enough to have at least 1 such dress! The pattern for these 2 dresses are Elizabeth Lee Designs #204 with some slight changes made by me ( . If you know a nursing Momma - I can't recommend these patterns enough!!! I found that it was necessary to make the inside nursing slit much lower for easier access and I put the side ties at a different location, but all in all I was thrilled with this pattern. I even made this dress in a non-nursing version for a friend of mine.

When I had my son, I had no idea, and I mean - NO IDEA whatsoever that my pre-pregnancy clothes would not fit me the day I left the hospital. Never mind the fact that I gained 82 pounds during my pregnancy (yes, you read that right - 82 lbs! I went from 108 pounds up to 190) and my baby weighed 8.2. Never mind the fact that I am the youngest of a big family and have many nieces and nephews - none of my sisters thought to tell me about this little minor detail! Truly it was a shock that I had to leave the hospital in my pregnancy clothes. And, all the photos from the 1st 2 weeks of my son's life - well, I am wearing my husband's shirts because nothing else would fit! Ugh!

Finally, one of my sisters took pity on me and bought me a few nursing tank tops, but they were jersey and showed every spot of wetness, plus were a tiny bit snug - not exactly flattering, but functional and believe me, I was happy to have them. My son was born in June and what I really wanted was some SUMMERY nursing dresses - but I couldn't find one that I really liked AND I just couldn't bring myself to spend that kind of money on a dress that I knew cost a fraction of that to make . So, in between nursing every 2 hours 24/7 (hungry baby!), and running my business (yeah, like most people out there - I do work, I just don't think I've mentioned it before!) I got busy making a few simple nursing clothes. My son was christened at 3 weeks of age and I had my 1st dress completed just in time! Phew! And... thank goodness!!!

A bit of history - have I ever mentioned that I grew up without TV? Or, that I'm from a big family? The TV was disposed of, years before I was born, because Bozo the Clown conflicted with the family dinner time. Mom wasn't about to compete with Bozo - so the TV went out the door. We did have TV periodically (rentals!) - once when my brother was sick from an ear infection, 2X to watch the winter Olympics, and then, finally - sometimes for extended periods in the winter. But - certainly never in the summer.

My Mom was good about finding other things for us all to do - we did many craft projects, loved sliding outdoors, baked goodies, karate lessons, swimming lessons, and for me - 1 winter of sewing and another winter of weaving lessons. Thankfully sewing lessons from a private instructor as I swear my Home Ec teacher hated me because I did things slightly different! I remember how SLOW sewing lessons were - I wanted to make the project that day! Why did I have to spend so much time at the ironing board? Why did I have to learn how to hand sew a nice hem when there was a sewing machine sitting in front of me? As my son likes to ask... why, why, why!? But, the lessons did sink in and today, I am thankful that I have a good, basic background in sewing clothes. Let's just forget about some of the hideous outfits I made which were the cats meow of the day (think knickers with matching vests here!).

I sewed on my Mom's old machine - I think a Kenmore - one that had cams for decorative stitches. Years later, I took a college course on garmet construction. This was a very economical course as it only cost $30 ($10 per credit - a California college and I was a resident). We had full access to MANY industrial machines. Wow! I loved this course! There was a man in the course who signed up for it every time it was offered just to use the machines all semester for $30. He was an excellent sewer - often cutting out 3 dresses at the same time (same pattern, different fabrics) and then set to work production style - sewing them. Unlike home sewing machines that are built to do a variety of stitches, industrial machines usually only do ONE function, but they do it very well, and very fast! And yes, I picked up a few new sewing trick in that class too. And, I think it is important to note, while I was happy to sew at class on these supersonic machines, I was still happy sewing at home on a small, portable sewing machine my Mom had sent to me as a present - she bought it from an Amway catalog and probably paid less than $100 for it. It was a mechanical machine and sewed just fine.

Truly, I am lucky that I have had the learning opportunities that I have had, plus a sister who is an excellent seamstress who, to this day, is always giving me helpful little pointers. Because, believe me, I am not the best garmet sewer out there, but I do know enough to get a result that is satisfactory to me. I can't even say that I am a "steady" garmet sewer -as often I will take BIG breaks in garmet sewing, opting instead to spend my crafty time doing something else. But should the need or desire arise (like needing nursing clothes or needing to make my sons pants because he is sooo thin and long legged, or just enjoying making his PJ's and blankets because he enjoys picking out the fabrics, etc.,) - I know what to do.

I think that people who have the desire to learn to sew should have that opportunity. Some people are lucky enough to have lessons or mentors, others are on their own. And, I suppose, if you don't know how to sew, don't even know if you like to sew, then the task of starting can seem daunting. But, if you don't start - you will never learn. Ummm - just don't start out with fabric that costs a bazillion dollars a yard, ok?

I hope to share some of my sewing skill, such that they are, plus my thoughts on sewing equipment, here on my blog. Maybe, somewhere, somehow, my posts will help someone out along the way.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Unexpected Greeting

Along a quiet beach that I like to walk, there is an unexpected greeting.

I took these photos a few years ago. Although it has been much too windy and cold for LONG beach walks right now we did manage to get down to the shore to collect sea glass one day this week.
Our trees haven't even budded out yet, but the daffadil's are in bloom so surely warmer weather is right around the corner! Spring always seems to reach coastal areas late. Still, the fisherman are busy and many logs can be seen about, bark removed and the ends cut into sharp points for the herring weirs.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

5 More - Done!

Here are 5 more quilts that I got back from my long-arm quilter a few weeks ago. I can't believe I haven't posted these pictures yet, but I've been so busy with other things. Anyway, for size reference - they are on a queen sized bed.

All of these tops are blogged about in detail from last winter (Jan, Feb & March 2006). You might have to search around a bit if you want more info on them, but it is somewhere on my blog!

#1. 3X A Charm - for my son. Flannel backed (orange). I love how this one turned out! Was supposed to be a different pattern that didn't work out and then something else that didn't work and then finally this - hence the name!

2. Octagon Flowers. The quilting on this one is great. Somehow my quilter got mixed up about the binding and used a leafy/blue print?! (which just totally does not match any of the types of fabrics I used in this quilt), not orange. I know I sent her orange for the binding - which is on the Cars & Stars quilt instead. I will probably take the binding off and replace it with an orange one, at some point in time, but for now it is finished.
I gave directions on how I made this one up; it was really fun to make! It was a great pattern for me to use a bunch of geometric fabrics!

3. Fiddle Faddle. I loved this top when I made it. Unfortunately, instead of using standard white (which is what my quilter ALWAYS uses if I don't send her a backing), she decided to "do me a favor" and piece a back for me with the left-over fabric from Octagon Flowers, plus the left-over binding fabric (green and purple!?). Fiddle Faddle is a beautiful, soft, pastel type of quilt and I HATE the lime green backing (although it is the perfect backing for Octagon Flowers). I hate it so much that I cried, literally cried, when I opened the box. OK - so I was having a stressful day and this quilt was the icing on the cake. After a few weeks to think about it - maybe I can use it as a large wall-hanging and pretend that I don't know the back exists? I know I shouldn't get so upset about a backing, but I am just shocked about this back!
Original directions for this one was on Bonnie Hunter's blog at in her July 2005 archives.

4. Bars Quilt - love how this came out - it is currently the "top" quilt on our bed right now (yes, there are layers!). Beautiful and perfect in every way! The green borders are quilted with leaves, the border of diagonal squares is all stitched in the ditch, the outer plaid border is wavy meander with variagated thread and every plain square is quilted with a leaf - small photo attached here of that detail since I didn't have room to include it in the collage! The backing is a wonderful print that I got at Marden's last year. NOT entirely sure why my quilter used a Christmas print (with gold - YIKES!) for the binding, but I think it is good enough - I can live with it.
This was a Gayle Bong pattern from the book "Save the Scraps". My book had a typo in the cutting directions, so if you make this quilt - double check my archives for my notes on this!

5. Cars & Stars - I sent back to my quilter for additional quilting... she did not quilt anything in the green border or the setting sashes. Nothing. This is really strange because her work is really usually detailed. I was afraid that after a few washes all that batting would end up at the bottom of the quilt. So - I will update with more photos after I get it back with more quilting.
Directions from the Wonder Cut Ruler book - was fast and fun to make - I used a novelty fabric with cars on it in the center of the stars and also for the corner stones - which is why the name is Cars & Stars.
So - that would be 6 quilts I got back this spring, including the Heart Sampler I showed earlier - and she has 3 more to go. In the meantime, I am slowly picking away at getting some more tops done to send to her - actually have just finished the Wonky Hearts! Despite the "mix-ups" with some of these, I still love her work and think she is a fantastic quilter. OK - I just won't look at that green backing on my pink quilt!!!
For some reason - I am just not super interested in starting new quilts right now. This is just so not like me - and if this continues - I will soon have most every quilt I've started done too. Wow!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Boy And THE Trip North

This is Little Boy - hugging a quilt top, which he immediately adopted when he saw it spread out on the floor - "Oh, Thank You Momma for making me an M&M quilt!" M&M quilt? Well yes - there are 2 strips of M&M fabric. Each heart is a novelty print, fused down and then machine blanket stitched around.
You might remember these blocks from a previous post in September 2006 - Little Boy upended my scrap tote right down the stairs and most of these blocks were in the bottom of that tote. At that time I worked a tiny bit more on them. And - well, then it was getting time for me to leave Canada so they were set aside for my return.
My trip North? Well, it is a long, involved story, but does involve not being allowed to come into Canada with 2 trucks (I was towing a truck), hitting a deer (we are fine, but the truck is damaged), having Little Boy throw up all over himself and me while we are waiting for DH to arrive at the airport, and an unpleasant experience with the US border too. Sigh.
My nerves were VERY frayed by the time I landed under the same roof as my sewing machine. One of my sisters likes to joke that I am like a smoker without a cigerrette when I am without a sewing machine. And she is probably right - because when I am stressed I like to sew, sew, sew - to unwind a bit. I guess there are worse vices though - and you know, despite the size of my stash (which is probably medium-sized compared with other blogger quilters) - I bet you that I spend lots less than a smoker pays for cigs! Plus - just look at how happy my son is about my latest efforts!!!
I will elaborate a bit about the deer because you never know - someone might read and then remember this when it really counts down the road. The deer jumped out right in front of me as I was driving down the highway (highway speed). Fortunately my Dad really drilled it into all of our heads that you never, ever swerve for an animal - no matter what. I know this sounds cruel when it is the neighbor's cat or dog, but I truly believe this lesson really saved my son and I from getting seriously hurt. I could hear my Dad's voice - don't swerve, never swerve. And I didn't. After the fact, I realized that a BIG truck had been coming the other direction and on my side of the road was a ditch, plus a utility pole. Little Boy and I weren't hurt, not one bit, but my truck sure is. And for this, I am so thankful, trucks can be fixed. Don't swerve, never swerve. Oh - and keep your wheels straight when waiting to take a left-hand turn across on-coming traffic (another lesson from Dad!) - this will prevent you from being pushed into on-coming traffic in case someone rear-ends you. Sorry if I have offended any cat/dog lovers out there, but... well, I am just happy that WE aren't hurt.
But the deer? Well that is a funny question (can't believe I can find humor in this situation, but... 2 guys in a pick-up truck slowed w-a-y down to take a look (not that they stopped to help or anything - they just cruised on by - very slowly) - and when the service that goes out to collect dead animals went out to find the deer on the side of the road - they couldn't. How much do you want to bet that the deer was picked up by those guys and is now in their freezer? And a bit of nice news - a total stranger did stop and helped me out, even going so far as to going for coffee for me and apple juice for my son, plus a sandwich and snack bars. Her friendliness was much appreciated and that coffee did help my legs stop shaking!
The BEST part of the trip? We picked DH up at the airport! Never mind that I was covered in puke - thank goodness for a nearby Wal-Mart for a quick change of clothes. Really - even though most Momma's are dedicated "diaper" bag totters - how often do we pack a change of clothes for ourselves! Anyway - we are back together again as a FAMILY!!! Little Boy and I have seen DH for all of about 6 weeks in the past 6 months (at Christmas time). I can't tell you how difficult it is to be seperated, but for the time being I will just enjoy being back together again. Little Boy is so excited that we are all back together again that he won't even sleep in his own room - I've set the port-a-crib up right next to our bed - doesn't he look happy! He just barely fits in there, but that is where he wants to be for now. His I-Spy quilt is being used as a draft stopper as the crib is near the sliding door. See what he is wearing? That is a sleep sack! In Austria utilities are very expensive so you don't heat your house as warmly at night as most North Americans do. Most kids sleep in these sacks - which is a big relief for worry-wart Momma's like me who are always checking to see if the blankets are tossed off! He is very snuggy-wuggy warm in that sack and won't go to bed without it. He has both winter and summer weight sacks. Oh - and that would be my QUILTED bars quilt on my bed!!! Will have to get my other computer hooked up and running as that is where a better photo is saved.
To finish up - here is a photo of my Little Puddle Stomper - out for a rainy-day walk. The weather has been overcast and rainy, but none-the-less, Little Boys need fresh air, even if it is a bit soggy. I can honestly say that I am ready for some nice bone-warming sunshine. In the meantime - what child is not happy stomping through puddles?