Monday, June 30, 2014

Staycation Day 1, Sewing with Sue!

I've got a ton of vacation time left this year and no burning desire to do anything special except NOT go to my office. I took this week off with the intention of playing in the sewing room.

Today I spent the morning with my friend Sue. We got our day off to a great start by having breakfast at my favorite place, the Fifties Diner.

Sue and I both love pancakes. She had blueberry and I had chocolate chip (bet you didn't even have to guess!). After our delicious breakfast, we headed back to the Studio for a few hours of sewing. Sue finished the top of her nautical themed Lemonade quilt. Sue bought these adorable fabrics as a layer cake from the Fat Quarter Shop.
I worked on a quilt that will be a gift for my sister-in-law Susan. I'm using 15 different shades of green batik. I started this project at my May quilt retreat in the Berkshires.

I need to make 240 blocks in total for Susan and Paul's king size bed.
I'm going to sneak a piece of Boston Bruins fabric on the quilt back for Paul.
I'm assembly line piecing the blocks, rather than cutting the sashing to size. I think that it's easier.
I also started working on a Scottie dog for Anna's little boy Logan who will turn one next month. I accidentally "super-sized" it. First, I thought I was using my box of 2.5 inch squares, but they turned out to be 3 inch squares. Then, even though I thought I was following the pattern, I managed to add an extra row to the body. I don't think that Logan will complain.

Romeo was sad that he had to go to daycare even though I was home. Don't be fooled by his sad face, the pugs have a great time. There is even a swimming pool!
At first, LarryPug seemed happy to go for the ride...
Next, he contemplates the distance from car window to the ground... fortunately he decided to go to daycare.

I can't resist showing you another photo of my gorgeous clematis climbing the fence. I'm thrilled to see it doing so well. I had to cut it back to the ground this spring and I wasn't sure it would come back.

Mike made this delicious Greek-inspired quinoa salad for dinner on Sunday and we had leftovers tonight. I contributed by cutting up the cucumber and tomatoes and opening the can of chick peas. Then Mike worked his magic and made it all taste grand!

Joannie came over to sew with me tonight and I worked on the Scottie dog some more. There may be a trick to the side gusset panel. I will have to consult Kim.

Tomorrow, Linda is coming over to help me hang artwork in the Studio. We are also going to shop for day lilies with Kim. Should be a busy day!

Linking up on Tuesday to Freemotion by the River. Linking up on Friday to Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Richard and Tanya Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts. Thanks for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Purple Reigns!

I really like purple and I use it often in my quilts. There is a preponderance of purple flowers in my garden, my front door and shutters are painted purple and LarryPug sports a purple harness. This afternoon, my friend Beth and her husband Jeff, brought over the latest purple addition to my garden.
Don't you love my purple bench?
Beth's husband Jeff is a carpenter and he made this for me. The paint color is from Lowe's and it is called Cleopatra's Gown. Jeff said that he thought it was the ugliest paint color he had ever seen until he brought the bench to my house and saw how beautiful it looked among all my flowers. You can't see it in the photo, but there is a purple clematis in the garden behind the bench, almost exactly the same color. Here are some more purple posies from my garden that is right across from the fence, along my driveway.
The new variegated leaf iris
Here is flat LarryPug. He is not dead, just stretched out on our patio. Even his tail is uncurled and flat.
I bet that Jeff is probably starting a bench for Beth's garden tomorrow, although I'm guessing it probably won't be purple.

Pugs and kisses,

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Night Sewing Report

I made it into my Sewing Studio bright and early this morning. I just wanted to put my foot on the gas and sew. I didn't want to work on anything with a deadline, I just wanted to sit in front of my machine, feed fabric through, and relax.

My original plan was to start a Yellow Brick Road quilt in kitty cat fabrics for my baby cousin Angie who will turn 2 this week. Plan A was thwarted when I couldn't find my quilt pattern (I organized the patterns last week) and discovered that I had seven kitty cat fabrics instead of the 12 that the missing pattern called for. Oh well, I will use a different pattern. I've already mailed Angie her birthday gift, so her quilt can wait for the holidays.

Plan B became work on some pillowcases. Fast and easy to make, very little thinking required. I finished four cupcake pillowcases that just needed that last seam sewn. I also made a graduation theme pillowcase for Joannie's daughter Jill, who just graduated from college and a fishing theme pillowcase for my neighbor Leo, an avid fisherman, who gave me a bunch of sewing treasures recently. Romeo, LarryPug, and I went and gave the pillowcase to Leo and he was very surprised. I also dropped off two of the cupcake print pillowcases for the little girls that live down the street from us. They surprised us with spider cupcakes for Halloween last year.

Marion and Joannie joined me for a while. Marion has been cranking away on various birthday blocks and whipping out quilt tops. Joannie was making a cover for her curtain rod to match her curtain panels.

I also put together two of the panels for my Scrap Wave Quilt. I have three finished. I'm going to make at least seven panels. I may go jumbo and make eight. If I do, the top will finish to 88"x96" without borders.
Loving the colors! This was a Bali Pop called "Tropical Punch." Actually, I used four identical jelly rolls, plus four additional strips of batik, so there are 44 fabrics in each panel. Three panels are shown here.
Later in the afternoon I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics to get some more sewing machine needles. Look what followed me home...
Whoooo is this fabric for?
I found the owl fleece in the remnant bin and was lucky enough to find some owl print cotton in the clearance aisle. My friend Jeff's little girl Lily loves owls. I will make her a  fleece throw and a pillowcase. (Note: I even came home with the sewing machine needles!)

We had beautiful weather this weekend. Mike and I went to a small local jazz festival with some friends on Saturday.

I bought myself a cool ring with our names on it.
LarryPug and Romeo both went to the vet. LarryPug had his annual physical and was pronounced "a fine young man" by our vet. Romeo's ear infection appears to have cleared up.
LarryPug actually enjoys his annual visit. He is even willing to pose on the exam table. Not so, Romeo, who I have to hold in a death grip the entire time so he won't jump off the table.
How can it be Sunday night so quickly?

Hope you had a good weekend.

Linking up on Friday to Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Richard and Tanya Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts. Thanks so much for visiting!

Pugs and kisses,

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How To Add Zipper Tabs

After my recent post on my zipper bags, one of my blogging friends wrote to tell me that she was unfamiliar with zipper tabs. I did not invent this technique, but since discovering it while making these two free Moda zipper bag patterns, links here and here, I've been a convert. Please note that there are instructions in these patterns for including zipper tabs, I'm just showing you a few more photos that may give you more clarity and boost your confidence. Try them, you'll like them!

Why do I like zipper tabs? They make sewing in a zipper a breeze. No more unwieldy lump to sew over and no more unsightly bump in your finished seam. Broken needles will be a thing of your past.

First, I cut a 2 1/2 inch square of my bag fabric. I iron down 1/4 inch on one end and then fold the tab in half. I put the folded edge next to the zipper slide and stitch over it.

Zippers shown with zipper tabs added at the top.
Make sure you don't cover the zipper slide!
Next, pull back the fabric, exposing the extra zipper tape.
Note, these are plastic zippers, not metal.
Trim the excess zipper tape off (in other words, trim the zipper tape even with your seam allowance).
Now it looks like this! Add one to the other side of your zipper.
This is what my zipper with tabs looks like now. I'm showing it to you against contrasting fabric so you can see the zipper tabs clearly. When I sew in the zipper, I center it on my piece of fabric, letting the ends of the zipper tabs overlap the edge. I'll trim them later.
Don't be afraid to cut off a big honking piece if you need to! I always like to cut off the hard metal stop at the end of the zipper (seen at far right in photo) if possible.

Last night I used a 14 inch zipper in my 8 inch wide bag. Reason? It was late at night, I had a 14 inch zipper on hand and the fabric store was closed. Fortunately Nancy's House of Fabric (aka My Stash) is always open. I throw the ends of the zippers in the trash, but I'm sure you can find something on Pinterest to make with them.
The zipper is sew down on one side. Hopefully you can see that I've trimmed the ends of the zipper tab to match the width of the zipper tape and the size of my fabric for the pouch.

Shown from the lining side so you can see where my zipper tabs are. They make sewing up the sides seams of the pouch a breeze.

I finished three more zipper bags last night. They are a belated Father's Day gift for my Dad.
This time I used two layers of interfacing in these bags, instead of one as indicated in the pattern, and they stand up nice and straight! I buy my zippers and decorative zipper pulls from Zipit Zippers on Etsy. She has great prices and a great selection and will do a custom order of any quantity and color combination that you need. This week I ordered zipper pulls on Monday and got them in the mail on Wednesday! Yes, I'm a happy customer (and this is an unpaid, unbiased endorsement).

LarryPug says, "Add a zipper tab and your pouches will be fab!" He's so smart!

I hope that you found this information useful. Thanks for visiting! Let me know if you've made any zipper pouches yet.

Linking up on Friday to Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Richard and Tanya Quilts and Crazy Mom Quilts. Linking up on Tuesday to Freemotion by the River's Linky Tuesday.

Pugs and kisses,

Monday, June 16, 2014

Much Ado About Iris!

I love my flower gardens almost as much as I love quilting. Growing up, my Mom was an avid gardener and she had the most beautiful yard in the entire neighborhood. And I was a bad child and never helped her in the garden, preferring to stay indoors and read a book. So I lost out on all her valuable gardening knowledge. Luckily, she is still available for gardening consultations by phone and I have some nice neighbors who are wonderful gardeners and have shared their experiences (and plants) with me.

I have beautiful Iris in my garden. My neighbor Johanna, who has a garden that would rival my Mom's gave me my first Iris. It took them two years to bloom after they were transplanted. Now they bloom profusely. I got my next Iris at our annual office plant swap a few years ago. This year I bought a tiny Iris at a plant sale sponsored by the local garden club and also bought an Iris with variegated leaves which resemble a spider plant.
This is my largest Iris. It is magnificent.
It is inside my front gate.
This is the Iris from my neighbor Johanna. The blooms are small but lovely.
I have two clumps of them. One in my side yard, and one in my back yard.

These are medium sized Iris that grow next to our porch in the back yard.
This is another photo of the big Iris after it rained. I love the raindrops.
The other Iris have finished blooming but this is my new variegated leaf Iris and it has just started. The flowers are a gorgeous reddish purple and I haven't been able to get a great photo yet.
My Mom's birthday is tomorrow! She is a painter and she loves flowers too, so she may want to paint one of these photographs. Happy Birthday, Mom!

I made another set of zipper bags. These are for my Mom for her birthday.
Gorgeous batiks in jewel tones. My Mom loves purple and blue.
The lining is a beautiful Monet water lilies print that I found at Joann Fabrics.
I hope that you enjoyed seeing my Iris garden. Thanks for visiting.

Pugs and kisses,

Friday, June 13, 2014

Quilting Tools and a Tip!

Have car and sewing machine, will quilt anywhere! I quilt weekly on Thursday nights and monthly on Sundays, so I keep my car packed with my quilting stuff, so I am always at the ready. My travel machine is a Janome Gem Platinum. It is lightweight and works like a champ. I have a duplicate set of my most used quilting tools (rotary cutter, scissors, marking pens, needles, thread, etc.) that is kept in my traveling tool bag, which lives in my car. I even keep a specific quilt project in the car along with a back-up in case I get bored. Right now my "car project" is my Bargello Scrap Wave. You can see my first complete panel here.

In addition to the "normal stuff," here are some non traditional items that I use frequently in my quilting endeavors. First, I keep all my quilting supplies in a laundry basket in my trunk. The laundry basket keeps everything together and it has handles so it is easy to transport.
Got power? Here is one of my favorite things, my electrical cord reel. I love this baby. The cord retracts and it's got six plugs. What more could a girl ask for?

Lose something? I also love my plastic box with dividers. This one came from the Container Store. I keep it with my sewing machine. It holds all of the machine accessories and tools so I always know where they are. Note that I've used an address label to mark it.

Does your back hurt? Bed risers will make your table the perfect height for cutting or layering.
Some other favorite non traditional quilting tools include:
  • Post it notes (use for marking rows or remembering your place in a pattern)
  • clear plastic tape (somehow I use this constantly)
  • a calculator (because I can't do math)
  • blue painters tape (use for layering a quilt or marking for straight line quilting)
  • giant binder clips or clamps (use for layering a quilt)
  • a pencil sharpener
  • address labels (use for entering raffle quilt drawings or adding your name to a quilt shop mailing list as well as labeling everything you own)
  • label maker (when address labels just don't cut it, I make name labels for all of my rulers, plus I use this to label the contents of my quilt project boxes)
  • a cushion (because I'm usually too short for the table)
Here is a tip to keep you safe from harm. When you replace your rotary cutter blade, store it in the plastic case that the new one came in. Write "old blades" on it, so you don't use them the next time that you need one. I can fit several old blades in the package before it is full. You should never just throw your rotary blades in the trash, they are very sharp! I will tape the case shut before I throw it out.
I also used a Sharpie marker to write the date that I changed the blade, right on the blade. I do this on my refrigerator filter too. It's a great reminder!
I'm working on a couple of projects that I can't show you right now, so I hope that you enjoyed my quilting tool recommendations. Let me know what some of your favorite tools are.

Linking up on Friday to Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Richard and Tanya Quilts, and Crazy Mom Quilts. Linking up on Sunday to Sew Darn Crafty. Thanks for visiting! A special welcome to my new followers!

Happy Friday!

Pugs and kisses,

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Treasures from the Attic

I have lots of blogging friends that are always "finding" vintage sewing machines. They buy them for a pittance at garage sales or thrift shops or even cast away on the street with the trash. They are able to clean them up and give them a new life. Their stories inspire me, but I'm not much for thrift shops. Reading in between the lines, I would have to assume that they frequent these places constantly in order to find their elusive treasure.

Last weekend, my luck changed. My neighbor Leo stopped by with a carload of sewing machines! He is cleaning out his parents' house. He was very excited because among the treasures was a "pump" one (Leo's terminology). I was hoping he meant a treadle.

It is inside this heavy wooden cabinet.
Fortunately there are wheels on the bottom.

This is what we found when we flipped open the top.

It is a White Rotary made in the U.S.A.

This is the view from inside the cabinet.
I haven't had a chance to thoroughly examine it. And I'm not sure if it works. Unfortunately, it appears to be a treadle machine that has been electrified, since it has a motor and a place for a light bulb on the back of the machine. Leo did bring me a box of attachments. It's in rough condition. The poor old girl needs a cleaning and some love.  I've done a little research and emailed the serial number off to Viking so they can tell me how old it is.

Next out of the car was a Kenmore machine with its case and original box as well as the manual and various attachments. It looks like it is in very good condition. I'm going to give this one to my friend Sue who teaches quilting at a shelter for women. She has a little classroom with several machines.

The bottom dial is a little broken but hopefully can be fixed.

The manual. Check out the clothes they are wearing!
I just need to plug it in and see if it works. I learned to sew on my Mom's Kenmore and then my Dad bought me one of my own when I was in high school, so I know it should run like a tank. In fact, this one looks a lot like the one that I owned. I looked it up and this model was made in 1976.

The next item Leo pulled out of the trunk appeared to be an end table. I wasn't sure why he had brought it to me.

It's a sewing table! The top drawer is a regular drawer. The bottom drawer pivots out and has places for your sewing notions! There are spindles for thread or bobbins and indentations for your tools. Leo was very proud of this find. It needs to be refinished and it needs some knobs, but then it will happily come live in my Studio. I really want to paint it hot pink and make the drawer fronts a zebra stripe...

Finally, Leo pulled out a very tiny box. An original tiny box with a toy sewing machine inside it.

I did a little research on this one and I believe it was made in the 1970s. I never had a toy sewing machine when I was growing up because my Mom let me sew on her real one. It is adorable. Maybe I will have to start a collection!

Leo didn't want any money for these items. In fact he was thrilled to give them to me. By sheer coincidence I had seen Leo in the park that morning when I was walking the Pugs. His dog Chip is friends with the Pugs. He said that he was spending the day cleaning out his parents' house and I told him I was interested if he found any sewing stuff. If I hadn't said that, Leo told me that he would have just put all of these things out for the trash, so he was happy that he had found them a new home with me.

Leo is an avid fisherman, so I bought some fish fabric this week and will make him some pillowcases as a thank you gift.

If you know anything more about any of these machines or have resources that you recommend (or cleaning ideas), please let me know.

Have a great day!

Pugs and kisses,