Saturday, September 28, 2013

about that...

Step 3 of the instructions for the mystery quilt came out sometime this week; somewhere, I missed something important. I sewed a bunch of stuff together that shouldn't have been sewn together and cut something else to the wrong size. Which wasn't clear until I saw the instuctions for step 3 and got a look at where things were supposed to go and had a panic attack because what I have on my cutting mat is not what is in the picture.

About that.

So when things like this happen, I try to focus on other things. Like how super thankful I am that I said someone could send my name out as a good sub last spring. Because it didn't just go building wide, it went district wide. I went in to sub for someone on Wednesday and another teacher approached me about subbing for her; she kept telling me how familiar my name was but neither of us could figure out why. We did finally figure it out and I ended up subbing for her two days in a row. And she's keeping my name for future reference.

I also processed 7 pints of dill pickles this afternoon. There would have been white chili but the chicken is still a giant frozen brick in the bottom of the fridge. Hopefully by tomorrow it will have thawed and I can throw everything in the crock pot.

Other silly things come to mind... like this ring. Which fit my right ring finger when I got it [it was a fabulous fake engagement ring in a pinch]. When I was in graduate school I could wear it on the middle finger of my right hand. I put it on the other day and it almost fell off. It now also fits on the thumb of my left hand. It's scary to think that my left thumb and right index finger are the same size.

I see things about how this is the worst economy since the Great Depression and I wonder sometimes how accurate those statements are. And then I remember that I'm part of the unemployed 15% in the region, which is exporting jobs and families. I kind of need families to do my job because families support schools with their taxes and send their kids to school, which in turn gives me a reason to work [totally oversimplified I know, but...] I'm not buying pickles, I'm making them in quantity, otherwise I wouldn't be eating pickles if I wanted to this winter. I'd rather not spend my time making pickles, but it's more cost effective. And I'm dying for a blinkin' dill pickle. On a sandwich. And not a PB&J. And I have an extensive J cabinet. [the apricot mango peach jam is a particularly good accompaniment to "I-have-no-groceries-Curry"; serve with orzo and pretend it's rice]

I stood in a food line today and watched students from my recent alma matter laugh and joke uneasily with each other before offering free testing services to those below the150% poverty mark. The woman beside me was asking about what they offered and then reminded them it wouldn't take much for them to be standing in that line. An accident or massive closures whereever they worked. Something. Which is when it occured to me that last year, I was one of those students, and now I was on the other side of the line. Because the economy is still in the tank. 150% below the poverty line, waiting for food, barely able to feed my cat. True, I could have moved south. I could have just moved anywhere. Thanks, Grandpa, for dying on me, and thank you, me, for being more attatched than I realized and not being able to pull myself together when opportunity was knocking.

I don't think I would be this angsty if I was still waiting for people to pay me for work I did in August.  Seriously, people, I have a cat.  Which is not the same thing as a child, but I am still responsible for a small, living, breathing organism that cries. And also beats me in the face.

Monday, September 23, 2013

quilt along. or something.

Mystery Quilt - Tranquility

In the  choice between doing an online bee and a mystery quilt, doing a mystery quilt along won out, for several reasons. Mystery quilt doesn't involve paying for postage. Or driving to the indy/ specialty fabric store and buying 'modern' fabric. I can use stuff I've got laying around my house. Until I have a paying job offering disposible income, this seems like the more responsible of the two choices [as fabulous as it would be to get a package from out of state or potentially internationally].

I've seen mystery quilt-alongs before, and I've always thought to self "but what if you get done and you hate it?" This is the chance taken when signing up for anything with an unknown outcome. In the battle between "but what if I hate it" and "just try it", the urge to just give it a shot won out. This project requires three color values, which I was able to scrounge up from my stash. Like the majority of my work, it's going to be a scrap quilt, but hopefully with a slightly more unified, cohesive feeling. Maybe someday I will go to the fabric store and buy more than 1 yard of something at a time. Really go wild and buy 3, with the intention of using it on the top and not the back.

There is also a time deadline to this project; the moderator gave 2 weeks to finish cutting and sewing the squares, and I'm a little behind, partly because of the scrounging. Shout out to Center for Creative Reuse for their fabric section and the yardage I found there for $1.50 that matches the colors of this project. Honestly, I don't know what I would do without places like CCR.

Here's my fabric selection, which is still in a state of uncut. I need to get on that at some point.

Friday, September 20, 2013

cutting on the bias

sewing bias tape [a haiku]

paired triangles...
parallelogram ...
no bias tape. hell.

It's my not so favorite time again - time to bind quilts. Or almost time to bind quilts, which means finding the fabric I set aside for the binding and making bias tape. Despite viewing and reading multitudinous online tutorials, I still mess up making a continuous strip every time.  I think it has something to do with offsetting the the corners when making the fabric tube; somehow, what starts out as say a 3" offset ends up 2". Or 1 3/4". Even if I put the lines on the fabric to line everything up. Still doesn't work.

This is supposed to be easy-peasy-lemon-squeazy. And yet, I am defeated by two triangles of fabric sewn into a parallelogram. If you know who Pidgeon is, you understand my frustration: right now I'm asking why. Why. WHY?!

So for my latest two projects, I opted to finish one with bias tape [refer to haiku above], and the other with simple non-bias strips, sewn on with mitred corners. Which I've never done before but had the added bonus of me not having to worry about everything lining up on the bias tape parade.

Needless to say, option two went a lot better for all parties involved. Except that I accidently snipped a corner of the binding off. So I have to figure out how to patch the corner... hmm...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

a little bird house in your terrarium

The 3rd annual Point Breeze Yard Sale is this coming weekend, and my friend, who lives in PB, is having a yard sale. Or more accurately, her mother is having a yard sale.

When one is at the right place at the right time, one happens to be the beneficiary of many free things. Like an epic candle holder for her non-working fireplace. [Never mind that she already shoved a book case in there and has it full of books and vignettes. This was one of those things that brain said "you will have occasion to use this, or lend it out, don't pass it up.]

Seriously. I couldn't pass that up. Especially with a price tag of "FREE". Now I just need some pillar candles.

Also, one gets to poke around in the yard sale offerings well ahead of time. And takes home a bird house necklace. Which, with the help of of a popsicle stick and a little wood glue, is then turned into a feature item for the terrarium.

.... which also desperately needed to be hacked away at with a machete scissors. [Someone also brought home a watering can on waxed string, but it's still in her car, hanging from the rear view mirror.]
And now, after a little TLC, the terrarium is a little more cleaned out, plus a bird house.

Monday, September 16, 2013

scrap quilt bag

I've heard differing methodologies on keeping scrap, particularly if one wants it ready to go for the next project. I keep a plastic tub of 2" wide strips. Not sorted, just tossed in there. Also in that box is a smaller box of 2" squares; all the "This is too short to do anything with" bits get trimmed up and tossed in there.  If I didn't keep it all in one place, I'd never find any of it when I needed it. This is the famous bin mentioned previously in basting a project on the kitchen floor.

Retrospectively, I should have gone with 2 1/2" strips, since that's the width of a jelly roll. I'll have to work through my bin and start keeping new strip company. The public library has been an excellent resource for books.

One book offered a bag project. And I love bags. I did modify it slightly, because it didn't sound big enough. Also, the pattern wanted you to line the bag. Again, I adapted it. It takes a bit of extra work, but then you don't need a liner if you don't want one. Otherwise just make a liner and stitch all the bits together. Or make faux French seams.
If your jeans were made properly, the seat of your pants and likely at least one in the leg is done with a French [aka flat felled] seam, and not simply stitched together with a serger [all the loopy stitches] A French seam is reinforced [ah hah, yes, we'd want that in the seat of our pants, wouldn't we?] making the seam able to withstand a lot of stress. Don't ask me why it's French. It may be one of those things like French braids, fries and toast. Nothing to do with the actual country. A faux French seam has the courtesy of a French word in in, but rather than grade [trim down[ one of the seam allowances, tuck the other, longer one over it and top stitch down, you press both seams flat in one direction and top stitch them down, leaving the raw edges hanging out there. It does still stabilize the seam. There's just a lot less work involved.

The deal with this project is 3 squares of equal size that are sewn together in such a way that the two sides of the bag form triangles when viewed from the side. First, the two sides are sewn together, making a long rectangle. Then, one at a time, each side is folded in towards the middle, the sides are aligned, and one of the aligned sides is stitched together, starting from a finished corner making an L shaped seam. The process is repeated on the other side with only remaining free edge of the middle square and the opposite side being folded in towards the square and the raw edges aligned. The end result is a bag something like the picture on the right. I say something because I didn't line it. My friends are calling it the quilt bag.

I'm not certain if this bag is supposed to mimic a furoshiki tied up as a suika tsutsumi [watermellon carry wrap], or a katakake fukuro [shoulder carry wrap] with the exception that it is stitched into a bag shape rather than left as a square of cloth; the author didn't give any hints as to the bag's origins besides "Japanese" - I find that annoying, but I digress. My upsize resulted in what I think I'll refer to as 'gigantaur", and it was only two inches bigger than directed.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

bee sign ups

Signing up for an online bee took a lot more work than I thought it would, but hey. I think I found one I can live with. Sign-ups are in another 5 days. Here I thought they started now [read:TODAY], but no.

In other news, I did something to my back... maybe.  Or maybe my kidney is being snarky and trying to throw sand and gravel. Batting 1000 for first time medical events this year.

I'm in pain and feeling a bit snarky, so bear with me. Snarky, snarky, snarky... I'll spare you the rant about ACA.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


and now, in honor of Caturday, pictures of my cat[s] making it impossible for me to work. because your pets never did that to you, right...?


 and a token dog. He's my buddy.

Friday, September 6, 2013

basting a project on the kitchen floor

truth be told, I've been working on waiting until there was a finished product to show [off], but then I realized that since I do all my quilting by hand, that could take a while. So what we'll go with here is a finished top and the back to go with it, and maybe, if I can get the Lyd off the laptop pictures of it being basted.

exhibit A
I have a bin of 2" wide strip scrap that I used to make this [exhibit A].  The little green box is full of 2" squares.

This project started with a 2" square in the middle. Two more 2" squares on either side of the middle. Sandwich strips. Sandwiching that. Wash, rinse. Repeat. And if I'd been having a good week day, I wouldn't have said ah, screw it. But that's another story.


Basting on the floor.Now improved with pictures.
  • A clean floor surfaced in linoleum or similar, big enough to service the project
  • some painters or masking tape
  • safty pins or thread and a needle
making the sammich... mmm, sammiches...

tape the bottom down to the floor with the painters tape so the bottom doesn't cha-cha out of your way while you are smoothing out the batting ... and I did piece together this batting from two bits of something else. Things are a little lean right now, not going to lie.

so, bottom layer then batting... then put down the top and smooth it out over the batting, which sticks pretty well to the bottom and the top; this may take some jiggering.

When you are satisfied that it's as good as it's going to get, BASTE! [I basted with safety pins] Quilt in the method you so desire. Have it ambushed by the cat.

In theory...