Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fabric accumulation

12May30paisley Oh dear. It’s building up faster than I can use it! I wasn’t planning on buying any more fabric for a while, and successfully dodged several online sales this year. So I dunno what happened, but I weakened. I’d had my eye on a couple of feline-themed fabrics for over a year now, and I couldn’t resist them any longer. I guess I just figured I needed to buy them now before they disappeared forever. 

12May30kitties But Galena Bay Novelty Fabrics in Campbell River offers free shipping on orders $100 and over, and it doesn’t take long to build up, even when you’re buying fabric for $3 and $6.50 per yard (as well as $15 per yard), so… It wasn’t hard to add a few more bits and pieces to that. I’m accumulating a great collection of black and white matching fabrics, for one thing. I also bought a yard of Pellon Thermolam. I’m looking forward to using it – it’s thicker than the Pellon fusible fleece I’m currently using, and sort of stretchy.

You know it’s bad when you look though a bag sitting in your quilting area and find pretty fabric you’d forgotten you had. (And the bags of hidden goodies are also beginning to accumulate.)

12May30panels I have to say that these new fabrics are even prettier in person than they are in a web catalogue. These Tale of Two Kitties panels from Red Rooster, I’m thinking, would go nicely on a bag I’m making as a Christmas present. So I bought four sets, because I might have to use some for a bag for myself, and it’s always good to have extras for those times when inspiration strikes like a bolt of lightning and you don’t have time to go shopping. Well, it could happen. And if it does, I’m ready.

Until next time,

Monday, May 28, 2012

I’ve got a handle on it

12May28bag Ta da! The bag is done and I kinda like it. I’m not sold on this type of zipper – it went in easily enough, but it looks sort of messy and unfinished, but the rest of it looks pretty neat. The pattern is from Issue #115 Aug/Sept 2010 of Quilt magazine, but the outside pocket and inside double welt pocket are my own additions. Somehow the strap got caught in between the lining and the wrong side of the outer fabric when I stitched the two together. I thought I would have to unstitch an entire side in order to get the strap out, but after I ripped out the double seam on one end of the strap, I realized that I could pull the whole thing 12May28inside right out if I unstitched the other end as well, since it wasn’t attached to anything else.

So that’s what I did, put the strap back on the right way, positioned it between the outside fabric and the lining, held on tight and pulled the bag back through that crucial little hole you leave in the lining when you sew the two together, and re-sewed the straps back onto the bag. (It was sort of like reaching through a tiny hole in the wall and adding electrical cord when you can’t see what you’re doing.) Then pulled everything through the other way. And voila! Bag. With handles. I still don’t like the zipper, though. Perhaps I did it wrong, used the wrong type of fabric, because the strips 12May28side on either side of the zipper stand up and away from the bag. They are not attached to anything at the ends. The pattern also called for an oversized zipper, of which the unused six inches would hang down inside the bag. That just doesn’t look right to me.

I still have lots to learn, but I understand the basics now. Enough so that I am confident enough to begin using my favourite fabrics rather than my practice pieces, and using set stitches that I probably won’t have to pull out, and using zippers that co-ordinate with the fabric.

Geez, where does all of that cat hair come from?

Until next time,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Good on the curves, but…

12May25rusty In Canada, we celebrated Victoria Day this week by having a three-day weekend. Normally I work weekends and statutory holidays, but there was nothing happening on May 21 so I got to spend the day at home. Traditionally, this is the 12May25mag day we plant our gardens, but I’ve left the planting and tending in the hands of my partner. And the day was overcast and slightly unpleasant as well, so I spent the day at my sewing machine. What a martyr.

I didn’t have anything scheduled for Tuesday, so I played hooky from work and we drove to the city. I took Miss Bernina in for repairs. They’re going to be a bit on the pricey side, but I didn’t pay much for her, so I can afford to spend a little 12May25welt more. I also bought a quarter-inch walking foot for my Horizon while I was there and it works brilliantly! If only the operator was as smart as her sewing machine…

I decided to do this pattern from a recent Quilt issue. This was a different sort of zipper. I also liked the simple looking strap, and I wanted to try the different style of bag. I also strayed from the pattern in the magazine just a little by including a pocket on the outside, a double welt pocket inside, along with a divided patch pocket on the 12May25patch opposite side. What’s the fun in sticking totally to the pattern? The double-welt was easy, but I need practice to make it look straighter.

I used the heavy brown fabric which had been given to me, and this Japanese-patterned fabric that I bought a couple of years ago. The lining was gifted fabric as well. Who knew there was so much fabric in the world to be had? First I quilted the sides with variegated thread… Darn, it worked last time I used variegated thread, but it disappeared into the brown. You can’t see what I did unless you look at the 12May24brown interface. And you can’t see that now because the bag is sewn together.

Have I mentioned before that I have a hard time following instructions? Probably because so many of them skip a few steps or don’t explain everything you need to know. But that is why I began with a simple tote and worked my way up to this one. Pattern-writers can’t always be re-inventing the wheel. And I’m learning just to follow the pattern and trust that all will work out as described, even when the 12May24white instructions defy the laws of the universe.

I sewed my first real serious curves. Easy! Did the pockets. Not too bad. The zipper… This one was different from the last pattern in that you attach the zipper to strips of fabric on either side of it and then attach the fabric to the body of the purse. The lining doesn’t extend to the zipper, which cuts out a lot of hassle. The zipper is right side up, and it works! We have zipper!

But something happened when I sewed the lining on this morning. First, the pattern didn’t mention leaving that crucial hole in the lining so you could pull the innards of the bag through it. I know, that’s sort of standard, but since the pattern didn’t mention it, I thought we might be going for a different look with this bag. It was different, but not in a good way. I had to get my seam ripper out and unstitch 12May25zip a hole to pull the bag through. That worked and the finished bag looked pretty darn good. The zipper still worked even.

But… Bugger! Where did my beautiful strap go? Somehow it ended up between the bag and the lining. Sigh. So, I’ve unstitched the seams and pulled it out. The pattern instructions were no help at all, but I think I have it figured out. I’ll try it again tomorrow morning and maybe we’ll have a nice-looking bag by Saturday night.

Until next time,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is the cute too much?

12May17amadeus I was in Williams Lake earlier this week on a business trip – it’s about a two hour drive north of where I live. It has a population of just over 11,000. My co-workers and I went out for a coffee after the seminars were over. The four of us were so busy yakking that I almost missed seeing this little guy. His owner had him in a pet carrier inside the shop and we only noticed him as she was carrying him out. They were still just outside a little while later when we left, so I took some pictures. Who could resist? Amadeus, the little angora goat.

I’ve been practising my free motion quilting, but nothing that would be of much interest to anyone else. I promise to do better over the weekend.

New Moon on Sunday, May 20. It will be at 0 Gemini around 5:45 pm Pacific Daylight Time. Lots of planets focussed around that part of the sky – Taurus and Gemini. Venus at 23 Gemini adds its pretty face to the influence of the New Moon, while Mercury touches noses with Jupiter in nearby Taurus on the same day. Gemini rules the hands in a sort of crafty way. It also rules ideas which will be flitting through our heads so fast this month that it might be hard to stick to just one or two (three, four, five…) projects. You might find yourself looking through books and magazines for more ideas, not that you need any more.

Until next time,

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers Day

What a gorgeous day it is today. Sunshine, a slight breeze that smells like the blooming lilacs and the first really hot day (30C/92F). Love it! Came home from work and put the sprinkler on my flowerbed.

12May13harley It’s Mothers Day. My mother passed away nearly 20 years ago at the young age of 64, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking about her a lot. Dad, too. He’s also gone. She was a farm girl from Saskatchewan, he was a city boy from Ontario, but they found a lot in common. They were both what each other was looking for.

12May13beachI don’t know what the date is on these pictures, but I think early to mid-1950s. They got rid of the Harley once the babies started coming.

Here’s to the rebel in all of us.

Until next time,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

More wiggles than you can count

12May12sample We’ve been getting some lovely weather with the occasional crappy day(s) in between, just to keep life interesting. I’ve been able to leave my vegetable seedlings outside overnight for the past week, but Wednesday and Thursday were so cold that I brought them 12May12closeup inside again for the night. Yesterday was so warm (my partner would call it HOT) that I left the seedlings outside. Yep, mistake. No frost, but the chilly temperatures made the leaves on my less hardy tomato plants droop. I sure hope they perk back up. I think they’ll be coming inside again tonight, no matter how warm it gets.

Still keeping up with SewCalGal’s fantastic Free Motion Quilting Challenge. May’s instruction comes from Leah Day who always has the most interesting ideas for FMQ. I’ve followed her blog for over a year, and she is so very enthusiastic and talented. For the Challenge, she introduced us to “double stippling”. Two versions, one with wiggles and one with “tracks” although mine look more like French fries. First you do a large meandering line, and then you sew back and forth across it, filling in the space evenly (or trying to). The first few practices I did gave me real tension headaches (the sewing machine kind) as I jerked the 12May12chips sandwich back and forth. Leah made it look so easy – she always does – and it is easy, but it takes practice. The last pieces I did were better than the first, which is always good, and the tension was much better as I had more of an idea of which direction I should be moving in. It was a lot of fun sewing it, and reminded me of those old Mario Brother games where you had to make all the pills fit inside the bottle in a certain way as fast as you could before everything jammed up at the bottleneck. LOL! I’m sure that with more practice, it won’t feel so tense, but I think it will still be loads of fun. Thanks Leah! And thanks SewCalGal for organizing this awesome FMQ Challenge.

I leave you with Mr. Goofball, who was mostly asleep and totally unconcerned with outward appearances.

12May12rusty Until next time,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

She followed me home, honest

12May8bernie I’m a bad, bad blogger in so many ways…

Thank you so much to Karin at The Quilt Yarn who presented me with The Liebster Award waaaay back in April. That was so sweet of her, but in the rush excitement of getting my last post out, I totally forgot to acknowledge her. I have Swiss Cheese for brains. Regardless of my delay in writing about it, I really was touched.Thank you, again.

12May8view1b And so, the problem with putting your words on a blog for the whole world to see, you can’t just revoke them quietly as though they never happened. I, uh *cough* believe I made the comment a few weeks ago that I don’t collect sewing machines. *Sigh* Well, $15 for a Bernina was too much for me to pass up when I saw it at one of the local thrift stores two weeks ago. A Bernina Minimatic 707. It came with everything – several feet, 12May8inspection bobbins, etc. I figured that even if the sewing machine didn’t work, I might be able to make my money back by selling the rest.

Rusty and Ginger inspected it thoroughly for me. Every nook and cranny was examined, after which I gave it a test run. Hmmm. Slight problem, so I oiled it all and checked all the parts and pieces myself. Most of it is in excellent shape. There’s a sticker by the pulleys (which look brand new) that says last full inspection was in 1989. Probably due for another one soon. Maybe sooner than 12May8view2 later, because it definitely needs a replacement part. Yes, I’ve heard how difficult it is to get parts. But I’m hoping. I think the problem is this plastic cog. She runs just fine for a few seconds and then slows and stops – it seems to coincide with the rotation of this cog. If it can’t be fixed, I guess some other Minimatic owner will benefit from the spare parts she’ll provide. Won’t know until I can get her into a repair shop in a few weeks. I’ll keep you updated.

Until then, Rusty and Ginger making good use of the Big Tote I recently made.

12May8Cats Until next time,