26 August 2008


So, the quilt is still on hold, due mainly to lack of time.  Perhaps I will get back to it once my life slows down (although I'm not sure it ever will).  

In the meantime, the fabric I wanted for the living room drapes is on sale, so I bought it.  I'm hoping this project won't be the end of me, but I'm thinking it's pretty simple.  And instead of doing a pocket/rod sort of thing, I'm going to use clip on rings for ease of sliding them back and forth.  I'm also thinking that I can buy some cheap sheers somewhere that will do, even if I have to get 4 or 5 panels.  Anyway, maybe I'll have new drapes by the end of September!

19 August 2008

Is there even room for my handiwork?

I got the new hardware. I tried it out. It's not perfect, but it's definitely going to go more quickly with the machine than by hand. Also, my fingers shouldn't hurt so much. Unless I stab them with the machine, which is entirely possible.

I haven't made much progress. There's been no progress actually. I just tested out the walking foot, and that was that. Too much going on. Maybe I'll set up this week and see if I can knock it out. Although, after spending all day Saturday walking up and down 3 flights of stairs carrying a massive amount of stuff, I'm not sure they need to bring anything else into the apartment. I'm not sure it would fit.

Closets are already stuffed, couches filled, drawers filled to the brim. And they aren't even done yet. If you looked, you wouldn't even know they'd started unpacking. It's taken away some of the urgency I felt. And this is not a good motivator.

Still, I'm feeling more rested this week, so perhaps after dinner tonight, I'll see what I can do.

13 August 2008

On Hold.

The quilt has been put on hold. Not forever. Not even for a long time. I'm waiting for some new hardware to be delivered, so that I can give this machine quilting thing a try before I ruin all of my fingers, or the entire quilt.

It's gone to the new sewing closet (that I'm very pleased about), along with all of my other frequently used sewing items. In cleaning the house last night, I was looking for a convenient and tidy spot to stowe it all without having to return it to the basement. I need to do a little cleaning out and reorganizing of that closet. I think most of it will go to the Salvation Army, actually.

This is all for the best really. This weekend will be a busy one, what with 3 friends moving and the grandparents coming to town, the CBFBB's Elvis tribute and various other possibilities, I need to get my house cleaned before the dawn arrives on Saturday.

So far, I'm making good progress.

12 August 2008

This is not for me

So, I pulled out my quilt-to-be last night after dinner, and tried to start quilting. By hand. It's not working. First, I developed the worst hand/elbow/arm cramp of my life, and it ruined my night. I can't get a good angle on the fabric. I can't keep my stitches straight. It looks like crap. It made me angry. If this is the way I have to go, then I'm not doing it. It's too frustrating, too awkward, too much of a pain in the ass.

So, I'm going to try the machine quilting route. I don't know that my machine is the best to do this, but it's gotta be better than my hands. I'll have to make a stop at Joann's, but hopefully it will be well worth it. We'll see.

11 August 2008

Backing and Batting and Quilting, Oh My!

So, as you may have already read, I finished the quilt top. It looks rather nice, too. Not perfect, but close enough. Especially for my first actual completed quilt top.

As for the rest of it, I cut out pieces for my backing, sewing them together. That's finished.

Then, disaster struck. I am apparently an idiot, but the bag of batting said it was washable. I guess they meant AFTER it had been put between something. I thought I should wash mine before it went it to prevent shrinkage later, thereby destroying my quilt. Big mistake. The washing machine ruined it. Maybe I'm an idiot, and this is something everyone else knows, but at least I'm admitting it. So at 5:30, I made a mad dash for Joann's and was luckily able to replace it without much hassle at all.

After that was taken care of, I added some personal details to the quilt. First, an embroidered monogram (ok, they were iron-on letters, but they look embroidered). This took longer than expected because I enlisted the eye of my husband and he tends to be painstakingly accurate when it comes to details like this. Then, I turned my attention to the backing, to sew a small inscription. It turned out very nicely.

I also assembled (attempted to assemble) the quilt. I didn't have a great surface and at this point I was tired and hungry, and SO over quilting that I didn't take my time, and I abandoned it. It's for the best really. Otherwise I would have ruined it.

Oh! I also measured and marked my lines for the actual quilting part although after some though on the possible complications, I'm going to be changing my pattern.

I think I accomplished a lot, though, so I don't feel so bad that I didn't power through that last hour. This quilting business really isn't all that bad if you have a little time and the right tools.

I will post pictures tomorrow.

10 August 2008

It's Done!

The quilt top, that is.  The shopping trip was successful.  A beautiful day to have the windows down, driving a friend to all sorts of fun stores in P.G.  I spent less than I expected, too, despite a few impulse buys at Target.  I'm tired.  So I'm going to bed.  I just spent 3 hours with the newlyweds who are still glowing.  

I just wanted it on record that I already finished the top.  

I might have this whole thing done within the week!

08 August 2008

A Lost Cause?

I told my mother yesterday afternoon that I was going to be making a quilt.

She rolled her eyes, sort of smirked at me, and said "ok" in a very sarcastic sort of way.

She doesn't believe that I will finish it. Not because she doesn't believe in me, not because she thinks I have no talent or ability. But because I have proven in the past that I will not finish things. She has gone with me on numerous occasions to craft stores of all varieties, watched as I filled shopping carts full of neat little tools, big tools, ridiculous tools I would never use. She has helped me fill 30 gallon trash bags full of yarn that was untouched to give to the Salvation Army. She has moved my bins of yarn that I chose to actually keep, bins of beading, bins of sewing, bins of scrapbooking, even a bin of soap making paraphernalia (which almost always makes me think of Fight Club), to and from the various residences I have had in the last several years.

She has praised my jewelry making ability, has encouraged my sewing, my knitting, my crocheting. She was completely on board when I told her I wanted to start quilting. She helped me pick out a sewing machine, helped me decide on things I needed. In fact, my mother used to sew things. She even made her OWN patterns. She is now a self-professed hater of sewing. Still, I see how she enjoys the fabric stores and sifting through the millions of patterns that exist. I find it frustrating because I might really be able to use her knowledge. However, she has apparently locked it away for all eternity.

But still, she laughs. And for good reason. I have completed maybe 5% of the projects I have started. That's not an exaggeration. It may be inaccurate as I have not done an actual analysis, but still. I think I get it from her. We've come across embroidery and cross stitching that has been sitting in bags in the attic or basement for years, yarn that is so brittle it is unusable. Is it an inherited trait, or a learned behavior? Is it just typical of my generation? She followed through on things until she had children, and then she was surely too busy to be doing cute little cross stitches for fear of poking a baby's eye out, too busy to be sewing her own clothes only for them to end up covered in that afternoon's lunch.

I don't have children. I have little responsibility. And still I cannot do it. I'm hoping my lack of follow through is circumstantial as well, though. A lot has happened in the last few years. Now I'm settled down. Now I have room to work.

Now I will prove my mother wrong.

07 August 2008

An Expensive Hobby?

I went to bed last night, turned on the tv as I usually do, and in flipping through the channels, landed on HSN. The Home Shopping Network. I, like I'm sure many people do, occassionally get hooked on one of their sales pitches. My favorites are when live demonstrations fail. But I digress.... I came across their Singer Sewing hour. They were showcasing a machine, a sewing machine that could do everything a normal sewing machine could do. But! This can do more, much more. It is an embroidery machine. It connects to your computer. You can create all kinds of designs, text, etc. Whatever your heart desires and your computer can make! It was on special for 799.99. HSN sells it regularly for 999.99. It is close to 1200.00 retail. But it does so much!

It's easy to get sucked in. I watched for 20 minutes as those two women talked, and the machine sat there stitching away. They didn't even have to stay near it, didn't touch it, didn't check it. They were making an apron that said "Diet is a four letter word." Cheesey. I'm thinking about how I don't have 800 dollars for a sewing machine, but wow, isn't that cool? Then I snapped out of it. I'm not going to make aprons with cheesey sayings on them. Or stitch flowers on the lapels of old-lady sweaters. Or make monogrammed towels for bridal showers. OR stitch flower patterns on suits or jeans to get "boutique quality" clothes. I don't care how much that crap costs at a boutique, I still wouldn't wear it.

Instead, I will spend my money on things that will actually benefit me. This list for the quilt (so far):
  • 2 yards of coordinating fabric (1 yd of each)
  • 4 yards of solid color for backing and binding
  • batting
  • 1/4" quilting foot
  • template plastic
  • quilting thread
  • size 8 quilter's needle
  • safety pins
  • glass head straight pins
  • washable fabric marker

That's what I have so far. Those are the for sure purchases. Looks like I'm able to spend plenty of money on my own without having to throw in that embroidery machine.

06 August 2008

Practice makes semi-perfect

I pulled out my Complete Guide to Quilting last night, bought when I first ventured into the quilting world. I know I said to someone, if not here, that I was going to start out small and leave quilting until I was a sewing pro. I obviously changed my mind. But at least I'm starting small, with a not-too-ambitious project, right?

I have a plan too. I'm going to make a comprehensive list of everything I think I need. I am going to buy all of the parts all at once. I am going to take my time and do this carefully, as the prep time will be worth it in the end. I am researching, and referencing, and learning things as I think about them. I'm feeling confident.

Last night, I found some old pieces of fabric, and practiced my running stitch on them, as if I was making a quilt block. Thought some practice would do me good. As it turns out, practice is not what I need so much as patience. In sewing these blocks together, I started out paying careful attention to what I was doing. My stitches were neat and even. I marked the fabric along the line I needed to sew. I was happy. Then, I got distracted, lazy, bored, arrogant. Take your pick. I stopped marking, I tried sewing, freehand, in a straight line. It wasn't all bad, but far from good. Still, at the end, I had assembled 6 small blocks into two-thirds of a quilt block. It was then that I learned another lesson. Cutting accurately--VERY ACCURATELY--is important. As are proper seam allowances.

So, as it is, practicing sewing doesn't hurt, but I need help with my patience.

05 August 2008

The Wedding Quilt

I am in the planning stages of making my belated wedding gift quilt. In researching wedding quilts and their traditions, I came across this story. I think it's safe to say that if this were the case when I was getting married, I would have been a lonely old spinster.


I've been doing some research to see if I can find a more traditional pattern. I would love to do something like this; however, I would never finish it. Not with the low level experience I have. Perhaps by the time my children get married I'll have the knowledge, ability, and time to create something like that.

In researching, I am finding a wealth of information on the traditions of quilts. It seems many stories are just myths, but all the same, quilts, for me at least, signal a connection to the past. It isn't rare for families to have quilts passed down for generations, or to go to a small community rich in tradition, and poor in modern day infatuations with television and malls and fast-paced living and find a rich quilting community, rooms of quilts from one hundred years ago, and craft shows with many different quilts on display. I don't know. I just like that feeling of connection to the past, and perhaps, connection to the future. The idea that quilts can be everlasting pleases me. That I can make a quilt for someone, and they will hopefully have it forever and will perhaps give it to someone else makes me happy, makes me feel connected.

This is sentimental. I get that. But it's ok. Quilting has been around for a very long time and there must be a reason why. I also would like to give a piece of myself to these friends. Friends who I know would appreciate and treasure it. Even if they do spill beer on it or let their future children use it as a tent. That's what will give it it's character.

At any rate, I'm not going to be creating anything elaborate anytime soon. I will stick with my 10" blocks to make a smallish throw for tv watching. I'm not sure I can even quilt something completely plain and unfancified. I do, however, know that I lay in bed at night going over and over directions I've read until I figure it out. I think I understand now how the binding works. At least in theory. And that is an accomplishment.

Here's hoping that I have enough money this weekend to go to Joann's and get what I need.

04 August 2008

Side Projects

I made two coasters last night. They aren't anything fancy. Just a 5.5" x 5.5" square with the ends folded over 1/4" twice. I hand sewed them. The machine wasn't doing it. I probably need a different presser foot or something. And after almost sewing my finger to the stupid coaster, I decided it was small enough to hand sew, and so I did. They actually aren't bad for being a quick project.

I'm planning on giving them away.

I've come to a tough point in the gumdrop pillow. I don't understand the pattern directions to attach the two halves to make a whole pillow cover. I'll get back to that when I have patience to deal with that.

In the mean time, I'm planning the quilt. I was originally planning something more complicated, but I'd rather do something relatively simple and straightforward so that I'll be more likely to finish, so that it will look nice, and so that it can be done quickly. I'm thinking something like 8", 10", or 12" blocks with a nice border. That won't take too long. I'd like to monogram it too. But I might have to just use iron-on letters if they don't look too cheesy.

I feel like I'm really hitting my stride, and I'm learning a lot already. Most importantly that sewing is not cheap, BUT, the cost of buying all this stuff would surely surpass the cost of the raw materials. And sure, I'm spending my free time doing this, so from an economic perspective it's probably not paying off. But I wouldn't be doing much of anything anyway, so why not be productive, right?

03 August 2008


Well, I'm back from the wedding, which was lovely, everything went off without a hitch.  Bride and Groom are very happy people, and will soon leave for their honeymoon.  In 4 hours to be exact.  But I'm not here to talk about weddings, or events of the weekend.  

This afternoon, having returned from Gettysburg tired, achy and slightly hungover, while my other half was taking a nice long nap, I began my gumdrop pillow project.  I'm making the ottoman to be exact.  It's not a simple project, in my opinion, but not so complicated that I can't tackle it.  Right off the bat, though, I made a mistake.  I could blame it on my lack of sleep (no rest until 4am this morning due to drunken antics in the room next to mine, friends who I abandoned around 2am, after convincing my husband, rather easily, to shut the adjoining door and come to bed), or the several vodka tonics I drank at the reception the previous night, but if I'm being honest, my mistake was due to my inability (adamant refusal) to read directions properly.  As a result, I wasted close to half of my first fabric by marking it wrong, and then cutting it wrong.  Luckily, I realized my mistake rather quickly, and cut out the pattern correctly.  

I know how have 4 panels sewn together, thus I have half of the pillow cover completed.  

I need some additional items if I want to continue much further.  I was looking forward to a trip somewhere with my mother tomorrow, but alas, she is sunning herself on the shores of Jersey.  I will not even try to hide my jealousy.  Perhaps I will try to go sometime this week after work if I am so inclined, and if it does not conflict with the possible raiding (in a good way) of the newlyweds' recently acquired apartment.  

At any rate, as is my usual m.o., I already have more projects slated.  My drapery lining should be arriving by Monday, and hopefully I will encounter some affordable as well as acceptable fabric for the drapes.  I also decided on the drive home, as I was reflecting on the events of the previous two days, that I will make a quilt for the new couple.  Perhaps overly ambitious, as well as a little late.  But I think they will appreciate it.   I should be able to do it affordably and simply.  

Wish me luck.