Another Week, Another Year

Well, here we are, another week gone by, another year of my life as well. I feel very aware of my shortcomings, but a kind of resignation as well. I'm pretty set in my ways at this point in my life. I have a happy life as long as I limit my social media and, at times, news consumption. Comparison is certainly the thief of joy.

This month hasn't been as productive as I hoped, but then again, sewing is supposed to be my hobby, not a chore. Though quilting as a job kind of blurs that line at times. ha ha. I thought I'd do all sorts of fun projects. I did almost no sewing at all, though I did a lot of planning and learning about clothes sewing. 

I'm still a bit scared to cut into my shirt fabrics, but I need to get over it and just try one. My serger probably needs a cleaning and oiling prior to starting. It's been long-neglected. I was thinking that I wanted to make either a paper tape or duct tape form. I mentioned it to my husband that I'd like him to take some time away from the barn to help me do it. He seemed somewhat amenable. I went to research a bit more, leaning toward the paper tape, until I found many blog posts about how uncomfortable it is and how long it takes--up to four hours of standing totally still. Many mentioned how snug it got after the first layer and at that point, being highly claustrophobic, I started looking for other options.

I was watching videos of other methods when I found several talking about Bootstrap. It's a service where you enter all your measurements and body type and they send you a PDF with a custom form that you sew. It will cost more, but I won't be a live mummy having a panic attack. I think this is my next project.

Moving on to quilting, one minor accomplishment this week is that I attached binding to front of my Under the Sea quilt. I'm still making very slow progress on the strawberry quilt binding, so I'm not ready for this one yet. That's totally okay.  At least it's basically finished and the stitches are locked in now.

I finished my Betty quilt top, my July OMG, but it took much longer than I anticipated. It was easy sewing; I just didn't seem to find time to work on it. I had hoped to have it quilted and bound this month too--there are still a few days left this month, so maybe? I have to piece a backing.

I did do a little selective seam ripping prior to assembling the top. I felt that one of the fabric combos I'd included was just too dark compared to the others. Do you ever use selective seam ripping?

Sorry for the weird camera angles. I was trying to avoid capturing my shadow. My blocks are square.

I am still waiting on the two pieces of fabric I ordered for my Malted Mystery quilt. I do not recommend I ordered several weeks ago and they have not yet shipped my fabric, which was listed as in stock, ready to ship. I should have researched better prior to ordering, because they have loads of one-star reviews that mention the very slow shipping time and lack of communication. At the time I was just excited to find a store that had both things I wanted in stock. I ordered alternate pieces from an Etsy shop this week. Those shipped within 24 hours and will definitely arrive before the others. 

As a bit of fun, I cut out a mini Buttercups quilts (Fig Tree Quilts) to use as leaders/enders. {I love cutting fabric. I find it relaxing.} I haven't tried a leader/ender project before, other than joining trimmings into HST, not that I've done anything with the millions of HST I've sewn. I don't know if it will stay as a leader/ender or if I will just sew it. 

I've worked on lots of colorful quilts this week. 

This one belongs to SCQG and is destined for a community organization. There wasn't quite enough backing provided, but one of the ladies had added her remaining fabric from the inner border and there was a scrap of one of the other fabrics, so I inserted those in the center of the provided backing to make it big enough. This is quilted with Gulf Stream.

Typically on these, they give me fabric for the binding and I trim the quilt and apply the binding to the front. Someone else then stitches it down. Well--the binding pieces provided were cut at 1.25". Oopsie. There were also some inner border pieces that had been overlooked. Those were 1.5". Hmmm...I think I can just squeeze a flanged binding from those. So I did it.  

Next was Terry's giant quilt. I spent several days on this one. The quilting design is More Square Drama and she wanted the teal thread to try to tone down the green. Each row of stitching took an hour. It was an intense, challenging project.

I quilted Pat's patriotic quilt with Star Spangled. It felt like a fitting choice. I need to bind this one. I may work on that today while I quilt the other top she sent.

Trish's star quilt was the next one. She picked Flirtatious and it looks perfect!

Finally, another of Trish's. I love the fabrics she picked. Robin Pickens is the designer and I admire how she puts colors together. I really love lilies, but so do the deer and rabbits in my neighborhood. Most of the time mine end up as stumps, so I have given up. Anyway, I enjoyed this quilt. We went with Trillium for the quilting. 

Out in the vegetable garden, we've been hit with a bug infestation. I entered the garden enclosure over the weekend, noticed weird bugs and lots of bug poop all over the tomato leaves, got grossed out, and left the garden. I Googled and found out they were blister beetles, so I'm very glad I didn't walk further in. We did apply some Neem oil Monday night, but the damage has already been done. I think I can still eat the tomatoes if they ripen?

Google tells me that blister beetles like plants in the nightshade family--horse nettle, black nightshade, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. They are on my dill as well as my tomatoes. I don't think dill is a nightshade?? And probably on the horse nettle and nightshade weeds in the flower gardens and surrounding wild areas. They are also all over the ground, in the front door frame, etc. Gross.

I'm kind of scared to go outside right now! Things are way overgrown, there are weird bugs and fungi everywhere, and also, we were lazy and didn't drain the water out of this plant saucer after it rained. There was a frog in it and what appears to be tadpoles. It's right in front of the garage service door. 🀦🏻‍♀️  Good thing the weather is unbearable this week. I wasn't planning to walk outside anyway. And somehow I've bruised the bottom of my foot. I don't remember stepping on anything. It's quite tender, so giving it a rest will be good. 

Anyway, back to the garden. My husband braved the bugs and picked this zucchini. This one is number two this year, and it looks like we should get at least one more. I did get a good chuckle out of how it grew on the plant. It's a bit large since I was scared to go pick it. I'll probably make bread with it if I can find some fresh chives--mine are growing, but very small. I like this zucchini, cheddar, and chive bread.

I also really like Cook's Country/America's Test Kitchen skillet chicken, zucchini, and cheesy rice dish. I can't find a free link, so here is the recipe.

The kids and I have watched several series/shows lately that we enjoyed. 

  • Extraordinary Birder with Christian Cooper (National Geographic/Disney+ or Hulu)
  • Wham! (Netflix)
  • Claim to Fame (NBC/Hulu)--we watched last year and were happy to see season two. We're working hard to avoid spoilers on this one and we haven't watched this week's episode yet.
We're still working our way through all the Rick Steves on PBS; we're close to the end. I have a few more series saved on PBS for future viewing and am looking forward to new seasons of Finding Your Roots, Miss Scarlet and the Duke, All Creatures Great & Small, and Vienna Blood.

This time next week, my boy will be back in school. He's finishing up his summer class this week, so he hasn't had much of a break. First few days of August is way too early to go back, in my opinion. My girl has a few more weeks of summer. 

July One Monthly Goal Finish Link Up

Have you finished your July goal? It's time to link up. 

This link up will remain open until July 31at 11:55 pm EST. Remember, you can link up from either my post or Patty's at Elm Street Quilts and your link will show up in the same link party. 

Want to see everyone's goals? Check out the July goal page

I am still visiting everyone's links, however, something in technology land is making it very difficult for me to comment. Have you been experiencing challenges too?

My goal for July was to assemble the top of my Betty quilt. The pattern can be found in Cheryl Brickey's latest book, Just Two Charm Pack Quilts. I'm using the fabric line Elementary by Sweetwater, a fairly old Moda line that I had in my stash. 

I was confident that I would not only create the top, but quilt and bind it too.  However, life just got in the way and I did very little sewing this month. I was worried I wouldn't even meet my stated goal of creating the top. Luckily, I rallied and finished it just hours before I needed to publish this post. πŸ˜… 

There are still seven days left in this month, so maybe I will be able to get it quilted and bound before next month. Stay tuned, and I'll see you next week for August's goal setting.

In the meantime, add your link, visit other linkers, and make new friends.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Quilts, New and Old

Last week I mentioned I was going to a workshop on dating antique quilts. We were a small group and each of us had brought two to three quilts that we got to examine. It was a very pleasant way to spend a morning. I own two antique quilts of unknown provenance. While the presenter, Dale Drake, was unable to determine the age of one of them, she said the date on the other is probably 1850 - 1860 due to the green fabric. (!!) Can you see how the green has discolored the muslin around it? 

Here are some of the things we talked about. You should not wash an antique quilt unless you are prepared to lose it. If you wash it, use a very clean bathtub and two tablespoons of Orvus soap. Rinse thoroughly and remove as much water as you can. It's best to air dry flat between two white sheets. 

Another way to clean a textile is to use a fiberglass screen and the hose attachment on your vacuum. I did purchase a polyester ironing screen on Amazon, but haven't tried this yet. 

Rather than typing more things, I will refer you to the Smithsonian Institute for more information on cleaning and storing textiles.

If you own an antique quilt that you know any bit of information about, make a label that notes what you know and hand stitch it to the back of your quilt. It could be where and when you purchased it, how much you paid, who made it, approximate age, etc. Of course, labeling is always a good idea for any quilt. I am the worst about putting a label on a quilt!

After the workshop, we had open sew day. I worked on my Grassy Creek borders a bit more. I had to leave a bit early because my husband needed my vehicle (the only one with a hitch for the utility trailer). I sort of want to work on these now and get them done. I'm not even close to halfway, sadly. Maybe I should be brave and pick it for next month's OMG. We'll see.

I have been very slowly making progress on my Betty quilt. I finished all the blocks yesterday. I changed my mind on which fabric I want to use for the sashing and borders. This means that I will need to very creatively piece the back--and remember to pull out some fabric for the binding before I start piecing the back. I was going to use the brown in the lower right for the sashing, but changed my mind. Now I'm going to use the aqua in the lower left. I also have charm squares and the other three pieces. Should I use the aqua math print or the brown ruler print for binding? πŸ€” I'll probably let my daughter decide. 

Here are my completed blocks. 

Over on the longarm, I've completed a few quilts. I got slowed down a bit when I decided to do my annual cleaning on the longarm and discovered an issue in my tension assembly. The inside of the one piece was covered in some brown dust. This part was very easy to clean with rubbing alcohol.
You can see the shaft is very dirty and grooved. The check spring was also full of the dust. My husband said that it is copper dust from where the chrome plating wore away. We cleaned all the parts with rubbing alcohol and he sanded the shaft with emory cloth as directed by APQS service. The picture is prior to sanding.

We put it back together and it seems to be running very nicely with no tension issues. I did order a spare tension assembly just in case. And spare motor brushes since you have to replace those in pairs, and why not have some on hand?

Ok, back to quilting now that the machine is put back together. These quilts all belong to Linda. This first one is quilted with Alfalfa. She hand pieced all the hexagons!

This one is quilted with Primrose Stipple.

And Stipple on the last one. 

Out in the garden, I harvested 12 ounces of green beans, which I promptly blanched and then froze. I learned my lesson from last week's loss.

I also had more cucumbers than I thought. I discovered that I accidentally planted the wrong type. This particular variety has very fine, prickly/hairy skin (think 5 o'clock shadow) and shrivels almost immediately after picking. In my opinion, they aren't good for eating, but are okay for freezer pickles and/or relish. I DO NOT need any more relish since we're still working on jars from years past. I thought I'd have enough for a quarter batch of freezer pickles, but decided against using the parts that had major insect damage. So I bought a few small cukes at the grocery store to have enough and made my quarter batch, using four to five cups of sliced cukes, which is two freezer containers, of pickles. The chickens got the insect damaged parts. They were scared of the whole cucumber, but ate it once my daughter broke it in half. 

My zucchini are still struggling. All but one have gotten blossom end rot. Not sure of the cause or combo of causes. No ripe tomatoes yet, but lots of green ones. The beets are very close to harvest. Have you ever eaten beet greens? What is your favorite method of preparation?

I've been having issues trying to comment on blogs, and I'm thinking I'm not alone based on all the anonymous comments I've gotten recently. Thanks for still making the effort to comment! Leave your name and/or blog or email and I'll try to respond to you directly. Or send me a message using the form at right so that I can email you. 

Linking with For the Love of Geese, My Quilt Infatuation,  and Alycia Quilts.

The Barn & Some Sewing

I spent Tuesday through Friday assisting with the trusses on the barn. It was extremely hot and humid and unpleasant. I also got sunburned the first day, which made the next three uncomfortable. Yes, I wore sunscreen, but I was sweating heavily and staring up into the air while setting trusses, so my nose really took a hit. 

We discovered that one of the trusses was not the correct size. After multiple phone calls and emails, a replacement was delivered yesterday. That means we have three remaining trusses to set. We had to pause while waiting for the replacement and also take one correctly sized one off to compare to the new one. 

On top of that, all the installed OSB sheeting on the walls had to be switched out since it was defective--it was crumbling. So that part of the job got to be done twice. Also, I'm thankful that our neighbors were able to help a bit so that I could meet with clients, pay bills, and have a break from the sun. Oh, and I've been doing what feels like endless laundry with all the shirt changes the husband has been doing.

One fun thing is that a house wren kept trying to build a nest in the rental lift. We couldn't believe that she kept flying into the end of the lift while it was in operation! She was very determined.

Once my brain cooled down, I made myself a list of things I want to/need to work on over the next few weeks.  

Sewing things to do:

    1. bind strawberry quilt--currently 1/4 done. It's hard to want to work on this after being outside in the heat.

    2. make and attach binding to front of Under the Sea quilt

    3. finish piecing Betty top--this is my OMG that needs to be done by the 25th. Half the blocks are sewn and five more are in progress. That leaves five more plus the setting after that. I don't enjoy working with precuts, so I'm doing them in smaller batches.

    4. continue to research FBA and try making some shirts--lots more research done and many more free knit patterns downloaded. Need to get up the nerve to just cut one out and try it. I might actually start with a Cashmerette pattern since it has cup size adjustments built in.

    5. make a dress form of myself using t-shirt and duct tape?--weird, but could be very useful for fitting as I like to drape when sewing for others.

    6. keep working through Pro-Stitcher Designer classes/try to trouble-shoot issues

    7. tidy fabric closet; ideally sell some of the doll clothes fabrics to make space. I did tidy the closet because I can not stand working in a messy environment. Did not pull anything to sell yet. Too overwhelming and other things have higher priority.

    8. work towards listing some of my quilts for sale--marketing & shipping materials, etc. My first step will be to fold up a few quilts and measure to get an idea of the box size needed. 

    9. do the fabric pull for Meadow Mist's Malted Mystery quilt. I tried to do this all from stash, but I didn't have enough yardage of some. I ordered the two required and am still waiting for them to ship. I'll share my fabrics once I have them all.

Other chores:

    1. weed lower garden--this is mostly the spearmint, the tree saplings that the critters plant, and some Johnson grass. Maybe a few horse nettles here and there. The coneflowers are putting on a great show right now! 

    2. weed upper garden. I worked on that over the weekend. Not great, but way better than it was. We had a massive invasion of wild lettuce this year. I am planning to rip out all the lamb's ear from this garden in the fall. It spreads like crazy here. I've never had it do that anywhere else I've lived. 🀷🏻‍♀️ While the bees love the flowers, all the stalks hang over the sidewalk and make a mess. And I have plenty of it growing in other gardens.

    3. tidy the office

    4. exercise more--I'm working on this one. I did start walking on the treadmill in the morning again. I haven't done that since I injured my knee last fall. I also did a resistance band workout yesterday. I'm sure I'll be feeling that as the day wears on.

This morning I am taking a workshop with a quilt historian. She will be sharing tips and then evaluating the age and condition of attendees' personal antique quilts. In the afternoon I will be taking advantage of the free sewing time with other guild members. I'm planning to work on the Grassy Creek borders. 

With the long hours on the barn, I didn't get much of a chance to work over the past week. Here are the few I did complete.

First is Carol's long, skinny tree quilt. She requested something with snowflakes. After considering the ones I own and the others commercially available, I chose Midnight Sparkle for this one. It's not totally snowflakes, but the effect is similar. I find many of the snowflake designs to be too intricate and overwhelming for most quilts I receive.

Next is one of Linda's. I drew a design using the IQ's onboard tools to mimic a waving flag.

The last one also belongs to Linda. I chose Cassava for the quilting. I really like how this one turned out.

In my personal sewing, I used a free online tutorial to make my daughter a smock apron to wear while she is handling the chickens. The fit didn't end up the greatest, but she is happy with it and hopefully I won't have to spend as much time on stain removal now.

Fun story--I got my son to agree to trying it on. He's almost a foot taller than her! It was a bit snug around the chest for him, but it hung a lot better otherwise. She's more of a pear and he is a board.

Out in the garden, we harvested some more peas and another pound of green beans. I wanted to blanch the beans and then freeze them. I guess I should have done that immediately, because 24 hours later the whole center of the mass was moldy. πŸ˜’ Lesson learned. I threw them in the compost. The peas look pretty dry. They were late to bear and I think the heat is getting to them.

I have lots of tomatoes growing! These are San Marzano tomatoes.

There are a few cucumbers starting. I'm hoping to get enough to make at least one batch of freezer pickles this summer. The beets should be a reasonable harvest. The leaves are huge, but they aren't sticking out of the ground yet. 

I have a few zucchini growing. A critter keeps biting off the flowers and I had one baby fruit rot on the plant.

Well, that was certainly long-winded. Thanks for reading all this, and I'll see you next week.

Linking with From Bolt to Beauty and Alycia Quilts.

Weather or Not

This past week has been a bit of a challenge. I had only a few quilts left in my queue and was hoping to get them finished and take the long weekend to do personal sewing before the next batch of quilts arrives later today. Mother Nature was not in favor of that plan. We had really poor air quality due to smoke from wildfires for several days. Then we started having lots of heavy storms. Since we were under severe thunderstorm watches Thursday, I was trying to use the hourly forecast to plan out enough time to work before the storms actually hit, figuring we'd probably have at least some power flicks. I had delayed in the morning since strong storms were predicted. Those never materialized. 

According to the forecast, I should have had enough time in the afternoon. We got a storm warning, but according to the weather apps, we still had two hours before the storms were due and I had about an hour left on the quilt. I noticed my lights in my sewing room were flickering, so I yelled upstairs to the kids to ask if the lights were flickering upstairs. Sometimes my sewing room lights flicker from too much load or whatever. My daughter answered no, I was near the end of the row, so I decided to keep going. I'm sure you see where this is going. 

The power started flickering more, which was okay because I have a UPS on the machine for just this scenario. The UPS gives you 10 - 15 minutes of backup battery power to have time to shut down safely. Like I said, I was really close to the end of the row. Then the power went completely off for a minute, but came back on. Okay, it came back on, I'm good. 

In the middle of the power flicks, my husband called the house phone to tell me that he was leaving work and the weather was intense where he was (a 40 minute drive away). I was telling him that since it seemed okay for a minute, I was going to advance the quilt and mark my realignment point before shutting down. 

As I was basting and marking the realignment point, there were a few more power flickers and then the power just went off (no more phone, either). The machine did not like this and started acting up. Usually this involves stitching rapidly in one place or just randomly moving and then stitching rapidly. Not a great scenario since you can get tears in the fabric or potentially have machine damages. Luckily, no tears happened. 

I noticed it was pitch black outside (around 3 in the afternoon) and yelled to the kids to come downstairs just in case. Now we have no power, no internet, and no cell service, so no way to tell what was happening and no way to report the outage. We had a bit of wind that we could see out the window, but it didn't look that bad. Weirdly, my husband was able to call our house phone again and talk to my son. Verizon was down, but his work phone uses AT&T and that was still ok. I have no idea how the house phone worked because it's a portable and usually it's just off if there is no power. 

Anyway, he got home safely despite extreme winds. The power was off for five hours and we were able to get the generator going to keep the fridge and freezer running. Many people in our area were out more than 24 hours, so we were quite fortunate. Driving around town, we saw lots of trees and/or limbs down. My neighbors had a large tree fall, just missing their house. 

The next day I did have enough time to finish the quilt with no further issues. I still had one more quilt to finish.  When the power started to flick during that one, I got smart and just shut down right away. In the end it took four days to complete the two quilts, but they got done safely.

The first one is Terry's, quilted with Coquina.

The next one is Amber's, quilted with Opal. This might look familiar to you--it's the smaller version of one I shared last week. 

At this point I figured I had two days left to work on my own things. I got my Under the Sea quilt (pattern by Sue Pfau/Sweet Jane) loaded and set the machine to work. This quilt is one I made a couple of years ago. I wasn't happy with the quilting I had originally done, so I ripped it all out this winter and redid it. I did use a new piece of batting since the other one wasn't looking the best after hanging out in my closet for a couple years then spending a couple of months being tugged at while I removed the stitching. I like how it looks now.

I used the Double Wedding quilting design from The Quilting Mill.

Meanwhile, I was working on my Betty blocks. I now have five totally done and five partially done. There are 20 blocks total.

I was also trying to figure out how to do a full bust adjustment on a pattern. I think I now understand the process, but since my projects are all for knit fabric and didn't have darts to begin with, maybe the standard FBA isn't what I want to do. I found a couple different methods for knit fabrics, so I'm trying to determine which method is the best for me to use.

I was just about ready to start tackling the mess on my desk Tuesday when my husband called my cell and asked for help out on the barn. He had rented a lift for a few days to help put up the trusses. Monday he had help from the neighbor. Here was their progress.

I helped him Tuesday afternoon and evening. We are now 1/4 of the way done--seven of 28 are on the building. The lift has to be returned this morning and he has one reserved at another place today. I'm not sure if I'm helping again or what. I do want to comment here that it's been very hot and humid these past few days. Working outside is not pleasant.

One upside to all the violent storms is that our air quality drastically improved. I was able to get out into the garden Friday and harvest some peas and a little more than a pound of green beans. 

My little hostas outside my sewing room window have lots of flowers right now. :)

My flower gardens need to be weeded, the lawn needs to be mowed, and the trusses need to be installed. We have loads of rain in the seven-day forecast. Should be interesting.