Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Step Seven, with a side of emo

For the more tenacious folks following this block of the month, you've already discovered that Step Seven has been posted for a couple of weeks. For those of you waiting to hear from me, here you go. (And so sorry once again, for the delay in the notice.)

Now for the side of emo. The stress and worries of the job change and big move have caught up with us at last. We've been under the gun, unsure of our fates since the beginning of January. I think that now that we're feeling more settled into our Green Bay life we've relaxed enough to feel all of the pressures of this huge change in our lives. Let's just say that the word "snippy" has been forthwith banned from all use in the household.

The Saginaw house is still for sale. We've finally dropped the price to what I thought we should have started with the first place. And we buried a St. Joseph, which felt a little sacrilegious to me. Once I saw the little statue all boxed up in a special "this is the guy to bury" package I felt a little less squeamish. He's been in the ground all summer. So much for the quick results. On the other hand, while working in the front garden here we found the St. Joe that the former owners of this house buried. He's now on the kitchen windowsill where I can remind him on a daily basis that he's got a job to do.

The wonderful old Saginaw house truly was the house of my dreams. It was a landmark, it had a life of its own which it graciously shared with us for twenty years. I loved saying, "I live in a house built in 1860." Or, "We live in that old farmhouse next to the park", and have everyone know exactly which house that was. (I think half the county walked through it during the estate sale two weeks before we bought it.)

In moving here we were no longer interested in "the house of our dreams". We had that. We have just want we wanted, enough space for our toys, enough dirt to garden, all on a quiet street. It didn't start out as something special, but, as Kent reminds me, it will be by the time we're done with it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Same but not same, the leaves part two

When I first learned to applique, more than twenty years ago, uniformity and perfection were the hallmarks of excellence. In many applique circles, especially those grounded in the traditional style, these values continue today. Even as I was developing my own applique technique, my initial goal was to create a process that would allow me to quickly and efficiently make precise and uniform templates for my applique motifs. Stapling and cutting multiple layers of template material gave me that outcome, and I appliqued on happily for many years.

But lately, I find my desires are changing. Leaves are never uniform in nature. They twist, they change colors as they mature and they're all different sizes.

One of the nicest things about my applique technique is that I can make changes on the fly. Early on I decided that I'd cut out each leaf individually, all eleventy-million of them, a far cry from the quick and efficient method I worked so hard to perfect.

One of the most frequently asked questions in my classes is where to cut: inside the line, out side the line or exactly on the line. I always reply with "somewhere near the line". Since I cut each element from a complete motif (as opposed to exploding the design and cutting each element individually) it doesn't really matter how the cut is made. The shapes will fit together again, guaranteed!

For example, here's a basic leaf template. It looks like I more or less followed the line for the outer edge. Also notice that each half of the leaf has a letter name and a penciled in number. I call these notations the "address", so I'll always know which halves belong together.

When it came time to cut the halves apart I totally ignored the line. My only concern at this point is that the two halves end up on a different fabric.

After all of the leaf parts are trimmed for the seam allowance, they are sorted by letter and shape. You can see that I missed the line on quite a few of the leaves. From here, the pairs are matched up and it's time to start glue basting.

This is my lap sized light pad (about 11" x 14"). I've covered it with a bit of template plastic so I'm not getting glue directly on the surface of the pad. I need my scissors to clip a few concave seam allowances. You can see on the leaf about to be basted that the cut was so wild that I had to transfer the address to the skinny half, no biggie. The cuticle stick is what I use to control and adjust the seam allowances until they are smooth and perfect. No fancy, expensive tools needed here. I use a simple white glue stick, which is on the table next to my beverage of choice. I have my feet up on the foot stool, I'm onto season three of Foyle's War on Netflix now, and I still have about a third of the leaves to go.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tackling the leaves, part one

Let me just say this now: this quilt has a lot of leaves. I started work on the leaves about a week ago. I am still working on the leaves. It's been hot and muggy here, so hiding in the air conditioning has given me tons of time to cut, press, cut and sort.

While I've been working I've been mostly parked in front of the TV. I've found Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Netflix. It is such a charming show, sort of like Murder She Wrote, but with an Australian accent and set in the roaring '20s. The clothes are to die for.

Managing all of these leaves could be a nightmare, but my trusty "addressing system" saves me again. Each half of the leaves has a distinct letter name, and each leaf has been assigned a number. When the time comes I'll just need to match up letter and number to get a complete leaf.

I've been working on the stack of leaves a bit at a time. As I cut the leaves into sections each piece goes into a separate pile. I like to work with three shades of fabric at a time. The only thing I have to worry about is making sure that each half of a leaf ends up in a different pile, which will end up on a different fabric. It would be silly to do all of this work and end up with both halves in the same fabric!

The trimmed halves have been sorted into stacks by letter. When I'm ready to get serious about the glue basting I will then sort the stacks into matching pairs. I'll blog more about that soon. I have a bit of trimming to do yet, time for more of Miss Phryne Fisher's adventure.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

On the street where I live

This song has been running in my head for a while now, the smarmy one from My Fair Lady. It started one Sunday morning when I went out for the newspaper. It was cool and just a little bit misty, the morning sunlight dappling the street. At that moment I realized that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be right now, and I was content.

We had such a list of desires for our Green Bay home, and a ridiculously small budget for it. I think we were suffering from HGTV poisoning, at least I was. I mean, where are the Property Brothers when you need them?

In the end it was a compromise: two and a half stall garage instead of three and a family room turned into a studio. The lot is tiny, especially when compared to the Saginaw house, and the back third of it goes straight up.

But here we are, and it's beginning to feel like home.

It nearly broke my heart to watch as the garden centers around town blossomed with plants for the new season while I was stuck in a tiny two room hotel apartment with no dirt to call my own. Even after we were in the new place there was just so much to do before we could even consider playing in dirt. I cringed every time I passed this monolithic shrub at the front door. I mean really, could one say "stay out" any more plainly?

We (meaning mostly Kent) tackled it Independence Day weekend. In the end it turned out to be just two plants. It took a chain saw, a pick ax and a whole lot of sweaty digging to clear them out. The county's garden waste center is nearby so off went the bushes (which all fit into the back of my minivan) and we returned with rich black compost.

The swan bird bath looks a little overpowering now, but it might even disappear once the plants get to growing. I followed no rules except for "taller to the back". The flowers were chosen in hopes of attracting butterflies and humming birds, oh, and for cutting as well.

This fall I will tuck in a few mums and bulbs for spring flowering, I think I left enough room for that, maybe. There are yarrow, shasta and gloriousa daisies, purple coneflower and balloon flowers in pink and blue, along with anise hissop, blackeyed susans and russian sage. (And a blue frisbee for Gracie, but that moves around the yard.)

There now, doesn't that look so much more inviting? The big shrubs under the windows? Well, their days are numbered too.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Step Six-Applique progress, at last!

Step Six is up! Can you believe that we're three-quarters of the way through the project? If you've been keeping up then you're really ready to put this thing together. Of course, I'm way behind on the applique. I've been keeping up with the piecing because I feel I must test drive the instructions. As for the applique, well for me that requires a bit of a still mind and I've had anything but.

This is where my applique progress stands. My purple and orange flowers are all done. My big red roses are done (I did those early on to check on yardage requirements.) I've yet to start on my pink flowers, and the leaves, oh the leaves I have yet to do.

I spent a quiet afternoon yesterday watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Netflix and cutting out all of the leaf templates I had printed. I also broke out my handy dandy circle punches to start on the required circle templates for the quilt. I'm so frugal, all of my circles will be cut from scraps left along the edges of the pages of Wash Away Applique Sheets.

I'm using Marvy circle punches. I find these little lever deals work best for me on the WAAS. I've tried Fiskars brand, and they may work wonderfully on freezer paper, but they're a dud on the sheets.

I probably should have lead with this, but here is how the center design template looks all taped together. I'm missing that great big cutting table I had in Saginaw, but when I'm ready to lay out the design I will make an appointment with the local shop to borrow their big tables. That's a while off for me though, I still have all of those parts yet to make, and they have to be sewn together, and embellished, and and and...

And the bias stems, yikes! Using a tape measure I figured out that we're going to need about seven yards of bias for the vines. That was the easy part. Trying to figure out how much fabric we'll need to make those bias strips, and also guesstimating how much we'll need for the borders too was a bit of a challenge.

Until I found this. I'm still dithering on all one fabric or many, but just in case I have a two yard cut set aside for now. And, I have a bit of applique to do before I must decide. How's it coming? Are you all set to lay out the applique center?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

She Sews

This is where my BOM has been languishing, tidily packed in an ArtBin, waiting for me to get my act, I mean studio, together. We're almost there, but we're still waiting for the replacement part for my cabinet. Kent finally assured me that the machine would be safe in the cabinet, but, you know, I wanted to wait for the part to arrive so that everything would be perfect. "Perfect" still gets to me.

Here are my Step Five parts. Even though the step was posted weeks ago, my blocks were just sewn yesterday. I'm almost caught up. I still have the million and five leaves to do, but my little buds and flowers are mostly done. I'm putting the finishing touches on the directions for Step Six. I just need to add a few words, and figure out how much yardage we will need for the vines. I will have it up in the next couple of days for sure, and I will post on the blog about it.

As for the vines, I can't quite decide what fabric to use. I'm wondering if I should make the vines all from the same fabric, or mix them up using bits and parts from the leaf fabrics. I'm tending towards all the same fabric. What do you think?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wait for it...

While I am making progress in the studio, it's still mostly a shambles. My sewing machine cabinet was damaged in the move (easily the most expensive piece of furniture I own, nice choice to break, guys) and I am still waiting for the replacement part. Horn, the manufacturer, has to custom make the part and it's still a couple weeks away from delivery.

Long story short, the next step of the BOM is going to be delayed until next week. The numbers are simple, and I could probably knock it out without sewing a stitch, but I always want to test sew everything before I publish. So, please hang in there with me. I'm guessing that some of you may have some catch up sewing to do.

And, just because the posting dates have been just as crazy as predicted, the last two steps are still posted at $1 each. If you're not caught up on the steps now would be a good time, before I get my act together and change the prices properly. Go here to find the first step, which will take you to all the subsequent steps as well.

Thanks so much to those of you who have been so patient with me during this project. I'm very much looking forward to settling in and putting this quilt together. All of my steps, up to this point, are done, so it will take just a couple of days of quality sewing to complete the top! How are you coming along?