Hot Mess Quilting

Last night my daughter, with no particular good prompt to do so, said, “Mom, you’re a hot mess.”

Today, a friend and I went to a local quilt shop, lunch and came back to my place to start on a Christmas tree skirt for her daughter.

When we got back here, we talked first, then I was the one who said, well, let’s see what materials/fabric you have, and do we want to use this pattern design from the Missouri Start Quilt Company’s video on a Christmas tree skirt from charm packs (though we were using yardage and cutting squares ourselves).

So, we watched part of the video, went downstairs to start cutting.  First, I/we placed the cat fabric down to see how a 5, 5 1/2 or 6 inch square would look. Then, I scrambled for a piece of paper and pencil so we could figure how many squares we would have to cut of each for the finished size we wanted if using 6″ squares to start.  Then, she did fussy cutting on a Christmas print with cats on it, and I cut strips and then squares of the two of her other fabrics she had purchased (last year) that we decided to use instead of the original five total prints.

Then, she was still fussy cutting with my 6″ square grid ruler and smaller rotary cutter, while I said, what about the border – I can cut strips for that, so we played around with  that design for a while, as I searched here and there for different items.

We never did figure out the borders on this quilted Christmas tree skirt, though I think we decided we needed another print because yardage for bias binding for the center circle was going to be a problem.

She decided to press the blocks, so I heated up my iron, and while she was pressing, tried out some quilting threads I had to see if any matched up well.

Then, we were going to start sewing the blocks together, but instead I took two extra 6″ blocks and gave her a mini lesson on free-motion quilting (FMQ) (which she had never done, she was [is?] a hand quilter).   She immediately asked about my quilting gloves (Machinger’s) and the quilting foot I have.  Now, I forgot to tell her that I have a Juki foot for my machine, being high shank, and that it cost about $42, but it came with my used machine and I love it, and I wouldn’t trade it or give it away for anything.

Instead, I pulled out my machine notions box and found her a quilting/darning foot I had two extra, that I used when I first started on my Kenmore machine, low shank – but somehow couldn’t find the one I had modified via Leah Day at the Free Motion Quilting Blogspot (originally with a ponytail holder to hike up the spring a bit so the foot didn’t ride so close to the fabric, and bent back the part that rests on the needle bar, but I found waxed dental floss worked better to hike up, ,and I cut between the red line to get ride of that plastic in the way of visibility [WTF did my low shank darning foot go? I wonder]).

Anyway, I gave her one of my extra feet because she swears her machine is low shank and I don’t use my Kenmore for FMQ anymore, and proceeded to show her on the 6″ block how I sometimes basted with spray basting, and then used a paper stencil template with a riding horse to start showing how to FMQ, but also how to get a cool design FMQ that was precise and more like heirloom, hand-quilting.  Then, around the horse, I showed her a stippling/meandering pattern, telling her this is really one of the more simpler ways to learn how to FMQ.

Anyway, she then got a call from her husband and something was amiss, so she had to run – but sometime during this session of where is this thing, and let’s move that, and I just put this over here. . .

I remembered what my daughter said about me being a “hot mess” and realized – I’m kind of a HOT MESS quilter.  I know where things are, and even when I remember “oh, where is that ‘thing’ I {wanted/used/knew I had/remember seeing and not knowing what it was for but now I do and want it} – even though my quilting stuff is spread out between old family room  in lower level (we live in a tri-level),   living room cedar chest  on main level, garage bins of fabric from mom, and dresser draw of fabric from mom in upper level – I can usually locate said “thing” within 5-15 minutes of searching.

OMG, I’m not as bad as my mom, but granted, she was a packrat, and had things skewed all over, but she could usually locate something  random and obscure withing 15 minutes.

Now, I’ll grant that I didn’t know all the sewing and quilting projects she had in progress, so if I had asked her, where is “this thing you showed me 5 years ago and I don’t remember you showing me the finished product” – I’m not sure she would have been able to do that – but still!!!

She was a TOTAL HOT MESS quilter.

I try to organize and simplify, and put things where they belong, or at least where they would be handy/easy to find/organized/categorized/put your organizational term here – but, no matter how hard I try – I find that if I am creating something new, which is like almost all the time – I don’t want to “waste” time “organizing”.  I just want to create, and piece, sew, quilt, bind, press, watch tutorials and then do them, etc.

I’m a frigging HOT MESS QUILTER!

But, I will confess that even my sister said, I’m a “get her done” quilter.  Yes, once I have decided to finish said whatever project, it’s usually done within six months, and that’s on the outside.  It’s more like usually two weeks or months (depending on who supplies the pieces to be finished).

However, I am cool and confident in my choices.  I totally feel free and comfortable that whatever I create will  be fairly awesome.

I embrace my reality and Zen. . . . . .

 

Color Theory

I watched  a block of the month class on Craftsy about Color Theory.  I thought I was really bad at blending colors, but I found out I knew more than I thought

What I learned about color:

1.  Even if it’s a print, a fabric will “read” a certain color.  Usually, it’s the background, but if you have say a navy print, with red and gold stars, the fabric will most likely still “read” as a navy.  Also, white stars or dots may have the fabric “read” lighter than it actually is.  Also, saturation of the print can change the “read” of a fabric.

2.  Analogous colors are groups of colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, with one being the dominant color, which tends to be a primary or secondary color, and two on either side complementing, which tend to be tertiary.

3. Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel, and usually go well together, i.e., red and green, purple and yellow (or gold), and blue and orange.  There are others, obviously, but I’m not going to name them all here.  This I also actually knew, maybe from middle school art class? Gee, Mr. Brown, I may have actually remembered something! (Yes, my art teacher’s name was really Mr. Brown!)

4.  I need to print or make my own color wheel from fabrics.  I think this will help me with color choices for quilts.  Then again, maybe it won’t because I actually am better at color theory than I thought.

That’s about it for what I learned on color theory (click here for a Wikibooks explanation).  Actually, there may be more, but I can’t remember it right now.  Take the Craftsy Block of the Month 2014 (it’s free), and maybe you’ll learn something.   I’ll probably watch the class again, even though the quilt they made was  C R A Z Y !!!

Another Fanfare Update

It’s been a while since I reported on the Grandmother’s Fan quilt.  I just mentioned it in the previous post, and thought I would give an update to these two posts.

A Brief Interlude or Fanfare

A Fanfare Update

After running into problems with the border and deciding to add more rows, I’ve been working on stitching up the fan tops by hand with a blanket stitch on about 40 more blocks.

It’s not my favorite part of the process, so it took me a while to complete.

After getting these blocks done, I couldn’t quite remember how I intended to add them.  So, a couple more hours fretting over the layout, I finally decided to just make it 18 rows by 18 rows – adding a pink border of 2.25 inches, and another white border for the scalloped edge varying from 5-8 inches.  This quilt is now ~97 inches long and wide.

I had a few blocks leftover, so I made a pillow top to match the quilt.  Actually, what I wanted to do was test out quilting design so I would know how to quilt the big quilt. After figuring that part out, I was ready to start quilting.

Fan pillow

First, I decided not to go with my natural colored cotton batting, JoAnn’s did not have any warm and white cotton batting in the store when I went to get the wide backing fabric.  I decided to do polyester batting – which is always white, staying away from Mountain Mist which tends to have skimpy areas.

I looked at the Soft and Crafty, and for a few moments thought about going with a medium loft of 1/2″ instead of the usual 1/4″ low loft.

Thankfully, I didn’t because I realized how heavy this quilt was already going to be.  However, as I was basting the backing, batting, and top together, this batting was very lofty indeed! It seems like it has a half inch loft.  I’m hoping it will tame down a bit after quilting.

Unfortunately, this makes quilting very interesting.  I started out with these super awesome gold needles, but the thread kept breaking.   I changed the bobbin, and that didn’t work.  Then, I checked all the tensions, no problem there.  As a final resort, I changed from my fancy needle to a regular Organ 100/16.

Problem solved.  Now, I’ve quilted the center part of the quilt, but after one evening, my arms were already tired!  I’m out of quilting shape!

It’s been the longest process ever!  I can’t remember how many hours I have spent on this quilt – but probably close to $100.  Some amusing math – imagine getting minimum wage for this labor! It’s already a $600-$800 quilt!  And, I’m not done yet, and it will probably be a long quilting job – 20 hours or more!

I’m hoping to be able to post a picture sometime before Thanksgiving.

And now, back to my sewing machine!

Grandma’s Handmade Quilt

By Hand

What’s the best present you’ve ever received that was handmade by the giver, not store-bought? Tell us what made it so special.

Grandma made a quilt for each of her grandkids.  These were mainly hand sewn, with some machine sewing, but all hand-quilted.

I got mine in 1981, when I got married.  I used it often, for many years.  I just now tried to find an old snapshot of it, and unfortunately, the only one I have, the quilt is folded on a table.

Mine started fraying, tearing, and tattering to the point I could no longer use it.  Although it was beyond repair, I saved it in my closet, and then in my mother-in-laws cedar chest.   No matter how torn or tattered, I just couldn’t throw it out!

A couple years ago, I got a bunch of old well-used quilts when cleaning Dad’s house after Mom died, so I decided to cut out the good parts and make old quilt throws.  My sister let me have her quilt for this purpose, too.

When I was cutting up my quilt, I found a block that Grandma had written in green ink – Made by Clara Niemann, 1980.  I don’t remember ever seeing it before!

Made by Clara

I mixed up the blocks in each throw, and was able to make 5 throws,  but to be sure, I kept the one with the block she signed.

Right now, I’m working on a Grandmother’s Fan quilt from blocks I think she started.  I finally have it all assembled and have even started quilting it.  Like the Butterfly Handkerchief quilt, I don’t know what I plan to do with it, again, not having a guest bed to display quilts I want to cherish and preserve.

After a couple hours of quilting, wondering what I was going to do with this quilt that I’ve put 100+ hours or so into (not to mention all the hours she put in cutting and sewing the tiny fan blades!), knowing I will preserve it as best I can (which means washing it as little as possible and not leaving it in a sunlit room), I wondered if someday, someone, my grandchild or great grandchild, will still have this quilt and think of me.

I think they will.

Because . . Things Change

Let It Be

A restaurant that removed your favorite item from the menu, a bad cover of a great song… Write a post about something that should’ve been left untouched, but wasn’t. Why was the original better?

Many of us remember New Coke.  Why Coca-Cola made that change still baffles many.  It wasn’t long before Coke Classic came back.  New Coke stuck around for a while, but not long.

I have over the course of my 53 years, run into this MANY times.  I probably won’t be able to recall them all here, but I’ll give it a shot.

Peppermint Tootsie Roll Pops

These were a thing in the late 80′s or early 90′s and came out around Christmas.  Everyone in my family loved them.  Then, one year, we got them, and they didn’t taste the same.  They weren’t as “creamy” or something.  It’s a hard thing to describe when you don’t have the original to compare to the new version.  We just knew they weren’t the same.

Soda made with high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar

So, supposedly you can’t tell the difference, but when we tried, what was it called, Retro Pepsi, we could so tell.

Oatmeal Swirls

This was a thing in the 80′s and early 90′s as well.  You had instant oatmeal in various fruit flavors, even tried chocolate, and it came with packets of a jelly like substance that you drizzled over the top of the oatmeal once it was ready for consumption.  One day, it just disappeared off the store shelf never to return.

Brach’s Cinnamon Discs

I’d buy these to put in the candy jar at work every so often, because even though more expensive, as there are other cinnamon discs of lesser taste and cheaper (still okay, not great).  I truly believed these were THE BEST, far superior to others.  Until a few months ago.  The taste is “flatter” for lack of better word, and the coloring is not as rich or deep or something.  I wrote an email to the company, and they actually responded that they had just moved the cinnamon disc making operation to a new factory and that the equipment there wasn’t “seasoned” enough yet, but that they had done taste tests, and no one could tell the difference.  Really?  I thought, “Didn’t you just read and respond to my email telling you otherwise?”  I will miss this confection.

Cinnamon Candy Canes

I LOVE these things.  I used to be able to find them every Christmas, even if I had to ask and go to a few different stores to find them.  Now, they seem to have disappeared altogether.  Where have all the cinnamon candy canes gone?

 Everything Shrinks

Remember when toilet paper always had 200 or 300 or 400 sheets per roll, and now, they don’t.   And let’s not stop there – M&M’s used to be in a 2 lb bag and now it’s 24 oz.  Or, anything really -  cereal, potato chips, cans or bags of coffee, a half gallon of ice cream, snack bars -  just to name a few. Then, they create a new “mega” or “jumbo” or “family” or “party size”.  Pay more, get less. Woo hoo!

And now let’s touch on some things that seem to be the same, maybe they actually are.

Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Shampoo – same fragrance, color and harshness.  No more tears, really?  Did you ever get this in your eyes?  But, still, seems the same as 30 years ago.

Baby Magic lotion – What baby doesn’t smell like heaven after a bath and an application of this ambrosial pink goo? Yes, you can buy the “unscented” version, though I’m not sure why you’d want to.

Dawn dish soap – It comes in ultra and many colors and scents, but the basic blue is still available and still works well as a degreaser.

Blue Bell Ice Cream – I have to take a moment here to mention my favorite ice cream (even if I still can’t get it without traveling to  – Indiana?) Still a full half gallon, and the home made vanilla tastes the same to me as it did 20 years ago.  I miss you, Blue Bell, when are you coming to Illinois?

 

 

Quiltin Tips

I have been watching Craftsy free classes lately.  I watched a beginning quilting class even though I am fairly seasoned by now, I never assume I know everything or even just “a better way” to do things.

This class was broken up into segments for a total of at least two hours.  I wished I would have watched this class two years ago before I started quilting, but I can still outline some of the things I learned that I may try.

1.  Join sashing and borders as you do binding, diagonally – reason: the basic idea is that the seams blend in better.  I think this would work better with prints, but I’ll try this on my next project, but probably won’t do it with solids.

2. Never cut thread longer than tip of finger to elbow for hand sewing – reason, the thread tends to tangle less and is easier to handle.  Now, if you are doubling your thread, you would make two such lengths.  I tried this with the binding on a baby blanket a couple days ago, although I did go a bit longer than finger tip to elbow, probably 18″, but I have to say my thread did tangle less.  So, I’ll probably be doing this more often.

3.  Use spray basting for smaller projects – reason: it really works well for basting, and it doesn’t work for larger quilts.  I wish I had known this a couple years ago, because I tried it for a big quilt, and well, I got fold overs on the back.  Since, I have used it for smaller projects, but it is expensive, and so for really any size projects, safety pins are still fine.  I do prefer the quilter’s curved safety pins in the size 2.  Size 1 is too small, maybe good for potholders and smaller projects.  Size 3 are too big.   I’ve also found that contrary to my belief, regular safety pins work about the same as the curved ones.  I love the Sewology pins at Hobby Lobby, and Dritz are okay, but I didn’t much care for the Singer curved pins someone bought for me.

4.  For basting a big quilt in sections, like on your dining room table (which I do), place down backing first, wrong side up, and use binder clips to secure to sides, manipulating fabric to be taut, but not too tight, but not wrinkled.  Then add batting, smooth out with hands, reset clips.  Then add the top, smooth out, reset clips. Reason: it works better than the floor, and you get a much better finished project.  Now, I use these clamps I got for my husband for some woodworking project, or something, that he never used, and I find they work great – because I can’t get binder clips around the edges of my kitchen table (too thick).  I wish they were all the same size, and I can’t use the really small ones on my table, but otherwise, they work great for basting.

5.  You can hand quilt with or without a frame.  Sometimes, you just want the look of hand quilting, and darn if I haven’t mastered it, or even got it down to the point of saying I could do anything, even a potholder, with it.  The lady said you have to try something 8 times before you have really given it a true test.  I don’t think that applies to EVERYTHING, but maybe my 3 or 4 attempts at hand quilting weren’t quite enough.  I’d still like to learn this art, even if it’s dying out.  Maybe I won’t use it often, but if I CAN do it, without a frame, I’d like to figure that out.  I’m going to try this again soon – at least 8 times!

6.  Pin those joining seams from the bottom on both sides of the seam – so you don’t have to remove the pins.  Now, I wasn’t good at meeting those seams, then I figured out pins are actually necessary when trying to match row seams.  And, I was always a person who pinned along the seam line, until I figured out for quilting, you should do it from the top.  However, you have to remove the pins before you stitch the seam, even if one stitch before, because you don’t want to stitch over your pins (needle breakage and messing up your machine is possible).  This lady pinned from the bottom – thereby not having to remove the pins, they weren’t in the seam line.  I don’t know if it works better, but I’m going to try it next time and see how it works out.  BTW, I finally figured out a way to put in one pin at a diagonal, and my seams always seem to join up right. I’ll have to show that to you if this bottom pinning doesn’t work out well.

7.  For quilts where joining rows and seams doesn’t matter as much, or if you have a lot of seams and want the quilt to lie flatter – and don’t plan to stitch in the ditch, iron your seams open.    We do this on binding so there isn’t as much bulk, and I must admit I’ve done it sometimes on quilts I knew I was going to totally free motion to reduce bulk at the seams.  Now, they did this even when joining rows and such, which I find ironing to one side works better, but I have to admit, I haven’t tried it so much for joining (maybe I will).  Also, I wonder if you might actually be able to stitch in the ditch better?

So, that’s what I learned new or different so far.  Do you have any tips that you don’t see mentioned often that work well for you?

Next time, I’m going to mention a couple things I learned about color theory.

Memorization – a lost art?

By Heart

You’re asked to recite a poem (or song lyrics) from memory — what’s the first one that comes to mind? Does it have a special meaning, or is there another reason it has stayed, intact, in your mind?

In previous times, it paid to have a decent memory, to be able to memorize addresses, phone numbers, famous quotes or passages from books.

These days, cell phones store all frequently called numbers and addresses to where you can barely remember your spouse’s or even your own phone number! And, with GPS, you don’t even have to remember how to drive to someone’s house, it will tell you. (Though it pays to recall that 900 feet is about 1/5 of a mile or about 3 city blocks.)

The internet provides instant gratification when trying to remember what World Series the Cardinals beat the Rangers in, who directed E.T., or how old Barbra Streisand is – all of which are rather unimportant pieces of information, no?

Still, memorization is hard for some, easier for others, and cells phones and internet notwithstanding, can be somewhat useful, or at least add some depth to yourself.  For me, I think my memorization skills lie somewhere in the middle of the curve.

I’ve never been very good at reciting anything from memory.  I used to have to memorize Bible passages for Sunday school.  I did alright, because I finally figured out how to do it.  Break it down.  Remember one phrase at a time, then when you have that one, go on to the next few words. (p.s. I rather dislike quoting Bible passages to people or those that quote them to me, and especially when one knows the chapter and verse! See last quote below.)

Still, I am in awe of mostly television and movie characters who can recite whole stanzas of poems or songs, or better yet, passages out of classic literature, off the top of their head, at just the right dramatic moment.  How do they do that? Oh, right, writers, like me.

I wonder how people in plays learn all of their lines, especially those lead characters!

As I hear a song, I can recall the words precisely, maybe it’s the music that helps with the memory?  But, if asked to recite a song, I’d probably be able to do so, but I’d be singing it in my head.

I’ve always meant to put “memorize favorite poems or pieces of literature” on my “to do” list, but somehow it always gets pushed to the bottom as more “important” things need to be done.

I have made it a point to memorize certain quotes, even though I may not be able to tell you who said it.  Let’s see if I can recall some here.  I swear, I’m not looking these up on another internet tab.

Margaret Thatcher – I always cheer up immensely when attacked personally, because I figure my opponent has no political argument left. (I don’t have that one down pat, but you get the gist.)

Vision Quest (movie) – You should love people like there’s no tomorrow, because when you get right down to it, there isn’t.

Professor Irwin Corey (on Carol Burnett show) – It’s good to have an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.

G.I. Jane (the movie) – A bird will fall frozen, dead from a tree, without ever having felt sorry for itself.

And, now, I’m going to cheat, because I read “The Go-Between” when I was in high school, and this one passage has always stuck with me for some reason.

“I disliked the levelling aspect of this sinnerdom, it was like a cricket match played in a drizzle, where everybody had an excuse – and what a dull excuse! – for playing badly.”

Go here for the whole quoted passage (worth it if this quote speaks to you.)

I found that quote in about 10 seconds with a Google search.  Is memorization a lost art?  Does it have a place in a wired world?

Maybe I should probably memorize that “Go-Between” quote.  I’ll put it on my “to do” list (which is on my iPad) right now . .

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