Tuesday, September 27, 2016

growing things

 I think I owe you a little more about that new grandson that I mentioned!  It's so exciting, and so hard to keep it to myself until I had the go-ahead to disclose!  So, the Burke family of 4 will become a party of 5 next year!

March, to be exact, since that's when the other 2 boys have birthdays!  I guess the birthday decorations can go up for the whole month now!  We all found out it was a boy when they were visiting here in late August, and neither Ian nor Jack had been let in on the secret until then.  Because there is nothing secret in their world!  Ian, who is 4, was pretty astounded when Brita told him about the baby inside her -- "Really?  Is it there inside right now?  Can I see it come out?"  Jack, 2, didn't seem that impressed, but he did like playing the new game of "Jack, where's your baby?"

This was his answer every time!  He's a child of few words!  And it's a good thing he still wears a diaper because otherwise those pants would be on the ground!  I think he might need suspenders soon, because he's on the verge of moving into underwear.

So, of course, a new grandson needs new quilty and knitty things, so I'm working on some of those ideas.  With the fact that they live in Charlotte, NC, there's not much need of warm wooly things, so I have to think beyond the little knitted hats, mittens and sweaters.  But it is still cool there in March and April, so there's still a need to keep a little guy cozy!

But back to what's happening at home--

I'm experimenting with sewing on something new.  It's called Kraft-tex, and it's a papery fabric crossbreed.  I'm first making just an easy tote bag from a free pattern on their website.  Then, together with Leisl, we each want to make a new tote bag from a pattern we saw last week.  You'll hear more about that!

This is as far as I've gotten with my first bag because I forgot to pick out the webbing for the handles when I was at Bear Patch Saturday.  The brown part is the Kraft-tex after crumpling and wetting and mashing it around during sewing.  I sewed a bit of a decorative stitch on it with red thread to echo the chevron design of the fabric.  Next time I would do more of that, but for my first attempt this is fine.  The bottom looks like an old grocery bag!  I'm hoping it gets better when I get it finished!  It's strange to sew, because it has stiffness like real heavyweight paper, but it doesn't tear or rip.

Yesterday I had some time at home to take care of some plants that have been outdoors this summer.  Thanks to a birthday gift card from Dan, I was able to buy what I needed to make this little arrangement of assorted plants and rocks.  I don't know the names of the individual plants, but each is different.  Dan has nurtured some succulents indoors because he doesn't have a suitable outdoor space, so I'm hoping mine will do OK in the house, too.  A couple of these had to be repotted, and some leaves were broken off during that process so I am using them to try to propagate more plants.

Here's hoping the scant winter light will be enough to keep them happy!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

feeling lucky!

I know there's a lot of problems all around the world, and many things to obsessively worry about it I choose to go that way.  However, I'm am trying to maintain a positive feeling in my everyday life, without being Pollyanna-ish.  I just had a great time with my mom visiting us, and a quilt retreat, and a relaxing weekend.  I am even feeling really good about the fact that we have done a thorough sort and purge and reorganization of another storage closet!  

And some really fun things to look forward to on the horizon, too-- Dan visiting and bringing Jessica to meet us, a couple more quilt retreats planned, and, drumroll please, 
another grandson due in March!  Woo-hoo!

2 weeks ago while on quilt retreat, a few of us took a field trip to a new (to me) quilt shop in called Altoona, WI.  That's on the eastern border of Eau Claire.  It's called Stitch Supply.  I will definitely be going there again!  They have the largest assortment of Cotton + Steel fabrics that I have seen.  It kinda required me to buy several fat quarters of some of the prints that we haven't ordered for Bear Patch.  Don't they look fun?!  Odd bugs, fountain pens, rotary dials, matchsticks, jacks...
Good additions to my fabric gallery!

My mom stayed with us for a few days after that retreat, then flew out to Whitefish, MT, to visit Dan.  She can get a direct flight from Minneapolis to Kalispell, which makes it easy.  She was there 5 days, then came back to our house for an overnight before returning to Iowa.  Before she left Montana, she asked if she could bring me anything.  I jokingly said I would love a fresh huckleberry pie.  Well, she carried a piece of that pie all the way back to me!  I was so excited!  I'm eating only a little at a time so I can make it last!

After finishing up my recent garment sewing experience - and I will definitely try to get a picture of it in action - I really wanted to get back to sewing some quilt blocks.  So I picked up where I left off at retreat and went back to work on these faux wedding ring blocks--

I have some sewn together, and the rest in different stages of assembly.    I would like to get this done to put on the class schedule at the store after the 1st of the year.  
I did complete another small quilt, below, that could also become a class.  It's called Timbuktu, and I started working on it last January.  It requires the use of the X-blocks ruler.  After I got the quilting done, I couldn't remember if I had binding for it already picked out.  A lot of times I do that, and I usually put a little label on that piece of fabric and store it in a little box.  Labeled "Bindings", of course!  I looked all over the place for a cut of that green fabric because it seemed logical to me that I would have chosen that for the binding.  I never could find it, and it finally dawned on me that maybe it was a different fabric.  I found what was left from the backing fabric, and there was plenty of that to cut binding strips, so that's what I did!

Last week at Bear Patch, we received an order that included these hexagon pre-cuts of the most recent Tula Pink fabric line.  They work just right with my 2" hexagon papers for English Paper Piecing, so I have been getting those ready to stitch together.  Tonight is our employee sewing night at the store and I will be taking that along to work on.

I recently wrote about our English paper piecing group at Bear Patch, and I included the recipe for a yummy dip that I made.  Today I am making it again to share with my co-workers!  Time to get to the grocery store and pick up a few things needed!  I hope your day is lucky, too!

Monday, September 19, 2016

back to Home Ec!

I've been experimenting again!  Trying my hand at some garment sewing.  I had been looking in stores for a loose fitting jacket-type piece but not finding exactly what I wanted in the right color, size, style, fiber, etc.  So, I decided to try constructing a simple garment for a change.  I wanted it to be heavier than the typical quilting cotton fabric that I sew with.  I found a linen and rayon blend at Joanne's that was a good starting point, plus not breaking the bank since I didn't know if this would be anything I would like to wear once it got done!  I picked out a very basic pattern -- Simplicity/New Look 6378.  

I decided to add side seam pockets to the pattern, since I had done those once before on the last thing I sewed for myself, and I liked they way that worked.
I constructed a muslin prototype first, for a trial run at the sizing.  It's pretty loose fitting, so not a lot of tailoring required.  It did turn out to be overly loose, however, so my mom helped me make an adjustment so the back wasn't like a big balloon!  

After cutting out the pieces from the linen fabric, I had to make a decision about how to finish the seams on the inside.  I knew that they would be visible at times, just because of the style and the open front.  Luckily, I was able to consult with Linda at work, who is a former "Home Ec" teacher, and very knowledgeable about sewing clothing.  I could have just pinked the edges, but that would have been too prone to ravel.  (I just tried using the words ravelly, ravely, and ravelry but I don't think those are real words!  Except I know Ravelry is a great knitting website!) I could have serged the edges, but I didn't have thread to match.  She suggested doing the Hong Kong finish, which turned out to be just right!  She explained it to me, then I consulted my trusty old sewing reference book at home to make sure I understood. 

 It was a bunch of extra work, but very worth it in the long run.  That's pretty much what Linda told me when I questioned the value of putting in all that extra work on the seams!  She's so wise!  Here is a picture of the seam on the inside of the garment.  It's pressed open, then a bias strip is sewn in place and wrapped to the back of the seam allowance and secured with a "stitch in the ditch".  I ended up cutting and making my own bias tape from the linen fabric since the color wasn't going to match with anything I could buy.  It was a lot of extra work, and probably next time I would seriously think about buying a fabric that I knew I could serge with the right color of thread.

Basically, I spent a lot of time sewing to make the seam allowance look unnoticeable!

The outer edge of the jacket was also to be finished with a bias tape, so I ended up cutting more from my fabric in another width to use for that.  Lucky I had some to spare!  It was folded to the back and then topstitched, shown below.

I used the triple stitch on my Bernina to make the stitching a little more defined, even though it was a matching thread color.  Now it's all done, and I think I will try wearing it tomorrow!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

quilting getaway

Great times with good friends and fabric!
That's what quilt retreats are all about!
I'm in Augusta, WI, at Bridge Creek Cottage.  I've been here several times, and probably written about it here before.  This time my mom even got to come along!

Yesterday I worked on my Little Rings quilt that I wrote about in the previous post.  Except for the time that we took a field trip to Eau Claire to visit Stitch Supply and The Calico Shoppe.  The Stitch Supply store was especially interesting to me, it will need a follow-up visit!

I did get a lot of sewing done to get the parts of the rings all together and now ready to sew into blocks.  They look very promising!

Today, I had a project hop.  I hopped from one thing to another!
One of the things that I worked on was a few blocks for my zigzag quilt.  I've been making lots of half-square triangles using triangle paper and my collection of solids.  (I've been using papers from Quiltime and Triangulations.  Thangles or other brands would also work.)  I have many more sets of fabrics pinned to papers and folded up in my project box, ready to be sewn.  These are the perfect short notice sewing tasks when I have 30 minutes to spare, and pretty mindless because I have them all set to go.
I had enough to arrange some on the wall, I know the color arrangement doesn't look that great but it has a long way to go yet.

Here's a picture of my mom and the quilt she put together today.  The 12 blocks were some that I had made earlier (much earlier) and had never been finished in a quilt.  So I put together a layout on EQ7 and found out how much more fabric would be needed.  When we were at the Calico Shoppe, she found the right colors of blue, red, green and cream to work together.  The blocks were actually made from Thimbleberries fabrics which were plentiful at that time, but not so much now.

Both she and the quilt look fantastic!

This afternoon I worked on this quilt, and it really went together fast.  I saw it on the Chicken Scratch blog written by Mary Etherington.  She has the directions on the blog page.
It used a jellyroll plus 10 more strips, which were solids from my stash.  I had the strips all ready and paired up so I didn't have to take time to ponder what goes with what today.   

I also made this little pumpkin tablerunner from blocks that were partly already sewn.  When I taught the Mini Pumpkins class at Bear Patch, I had several pieces underway to use for demonstration.  So I pulled together what I would need to make a small assortment of pumpkins, and this is how it turned out.....

We also have been sewing together pillowcases that will be donations through Bear Patch.  At the store, we cut a lot of pillowcase kits to be sewn and donated.  I brought some of those kits along and taught my mom how to run the serger, so she has been whipping up pillowcases!

Tomorrow we sew for the morning, then pack up and leave after lunch.  
I'll continue working on what's not finished, and some can wait in their boxes or bags for another day at another retreat.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


I'm attending a quilt retreat with members of my quilt group, the Ham Lake Piecemakers, soon.  Actually, today I realized that it is 1 week from today!  That really snuck up on me!  I have to move it up on my mental calendar and get my gear lined up.  I am taking mostly projects that are already started and really need to be finished.  But I do have one new project that I just started, and plan to teach for a winter class.  It's called Mini Rings by Sew Kind of Wonderful.  It requires a special ruler, the Mini Quick Curve Ruler.

I'm making mine with a different color combination--

Strip sets to be cut into arcs.

Lots of scrap curves.

All of my pieces cut and organized for a ride to retreat!

A sample block sewn to test the pattern and my skills!

Last week I shared some pictures of the squirt gun art.  Today I had time to play with an idea I had to use some small pieces of the paintings.  This is a frame that floats the paper between 2 sheets of glass.  Place on a painted wall in a medium gray shade, it looks like something very likeable!

Thank you, Ian and Jack!  Love you!