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I drove 400 miles for a tape measure

pattern
Edited -scroll down for a picture of the special tape.

Last week I made a quick trip into Seattle ( Puyallup, really) to go to the Sewing and Stitchery Expo. Billed as the largest in the country, though somehow I don't really think that's the case, it's pretty big. However if you're not in the market for a big ticket embroidery machine, then you can easily move fairly quickly through the booths. 
That is, if you don't look for fabric, either. 
Which means that of course I need to look through any and all booths that have fabric. Not just quilting cottons, but wools, silks, linens, and beautiful cotton shirtings and lawn. And I always peruse any notions. I leave out any of the trendy customizing items, like the rhinestones, paintsticks, and the embroidery. 
There is a vendor that has trims - vintage, imported, beautiful buttons, in every color and style. All organized by color and displayed on pretty shelves and tables. I dream of bringing the entire booth home with me.  But this year I left it all there. I also left behind some amazing wools - both cashmere and vicuna - the softest wool ever and the most expensive (which sells for upwards of $2000 per yard, though the salesperson told me I could have it for a steal of about $95). Well, no.
I did buy some fabric - two pieces of lightweight cotton lawn
 and    Also a cute piece of  semi-sheer dobby type shirting: .
I bought one piece of Kokka linen 

All of these are destined to become blouses. Now to decide on patterns; here are some of the candidates. I think it's really funny that in three of these patterns, the one I'm liking is the version in yellow.     
      Yes, I know that two of them are dresses; I'm just thinking ahead a little.  

The other big score was a tape measure that I've been looking for for at least thirty years: it has one inch markings at each end. This is such a simple thing that I've been stumped as to why no one made one until now. That alone was worth the trip.  

ETA: here is a pic of the old tape ( white one ) and the new one -    because I'm a garment sewer, I wear a tape around my neck all day. I invariably grab the wrong end - the one with the blank / 60" and have to fumble to quickly grab the correct end -with the one inch. Now, either end that I put my hands on is the right one!

18 and counting

mom
 We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary on Monday. Not a lot of celebration with a teenager in the house, but we gave it our best.
A couple of good steaks, perfectly done, artichokes, beautifully roasted potatoes, champagne, chocolates.
We spent some time wandering through a few antique shops during the day; doing nothing really, but looking for a couple of items on my current 'want  list': an aluminum cake safe/carrier, or one like mom used to have; some silk-screened everyday drinking glasses, just the 'perfect' cookie jar . I did find an old knitting basket that I can recover to keep a project in for a song. 

I made my sweetie a new pair of pj's that he was needing, and a couple of pillows for our bed:   and this one        
This drafted version of Love is so pretty, without being too fussy.
Well enough that I just might make a couple to put up on etsy, since the company that I got it from encourages people to make and sell things with their designs. Now that I think about it, everything that I've embroidered in the past year has come from Urban Threads.

I'm happy with the fact that I can download a design (sometimes free, no less! ) and pull out the linen, the pillows and stitch it out, and put it all together without leaving the house. That must be why I have the huge stash of fabric. Actually, I don't have many options since I live somewhere in the middle of nowhere, so it works out well.  

But I digress; my husband is living proof that sometime it takes more than once to get it right. Here's to another 18 years.

from that to this

stitches
 That is the beginning of the process - lots and lots of selvages I asked friends and guild members to save selvages for me, and they just keep coming. Still. I have a much bigger box stuffed full of them than when I began these selvage projects. I keep thinking that maybe I should call off the saving of them, but just maybe I'll attempt another 'something'. 
This  is what became of all those bits. And a pic of the back  
It measures about 70 x 60 inches.
I had one block of the border leftover, and made it into the label. I'm calling it "Mrs Spider Served Up Leftovers". The top of the back looks a little off, but it's just an illusion; I used the cut off from the backing and sewed it on to make the hanging sleeve. I used a stripey fabric for the pieced inset on the back and for the binding. 
I gotta say, I love me some bias stripey binding.

I marked out the quilting lines with one of those magical Pilot Frixion pens. I can't even begin to explain how much I love these pens.I'm somewhat of a marking item and notions geek. I used those blue felt type pens for years, and usually a little spritz with water makes the marks go away. But these,  you draw or write, and when you want  the lines to go away, a warm iron will magically make them disappear! Really. I tried drawing out a few different designs for the stitching lines, and settled on one, and when I was finished - poof! All of those red ink lines were gone. All of the working the quilt through the machine was tiring, but the walking foot worked well. 

I just have the sleeve and the label to sew on the dresses quilt, and then I'll be done with all three and ready for the show.

Whew! 

Next up - some piece of clothing maybe. 

 

the accidental queen

stitches

Many years ago I got my first sewing machine. It was a Singer Futura II. It was in the era where Singer started going downhill, in the mid seventies. A friend at the time had one, and I used it to make her husband a suit ( to try it out, I guess). Hers had a few issues, but not long after I found one used at a sewing shop for a bargain and put it on layaway. By and large it was problem free for me, but the fact that they had begun to use nylon gears and parts gave it a somewhat shortened life span. Especially for someone who sewed as much as I did ( even back then, with three small kids ). When at last it gave up (maybe ten years later), and parts were not available, I bought a new machine.      A Bernette 200, which was the first machine that I had that had a free arm. It was a work horse,  sewing countless bridesmaids, prom, and wedding gowns. Ultimately it just got really slow and stopped. I took it in, and to the repairman's surprise, I had worn the motor out. Not wanting to give up on something that had served me so well, I had a new motor put in ( which never had the oomph of the original ). Later on, it became my machine to take to the studio or on set. Next was my first overlock, a sweet little Viking, then the first embroidery machine, a Brother 8500.  I was working 10-12 hours a day plus, and bought a second embroidery machine, a Viking Designer 1( it took floppy disks). That one got traded in for my Viking SE, which is the machine I love and use daily. About seven years ago I bought a new Elna overlock in order to be able to do a cover hem. It's a great serger, but making the switch to the cover hem stitch is a PIA.  Within a year the show I was working on needed a few hundred t-shirts shortened, and I bought a dedicated cover-hem machine ( which has been relegated to the idle shelf ).
Somewhere along the way, I picked up my first yard sale machine, a Kenmore from the late seventies. It was just after we bought this house, and I thought it would be sweet to have a machine here for when we were visiting. During one trip here, I bought another older, late 50's singer in a odd corner type cabinet cabinet for 10 bucks ( it currently serves as a plant stand in my living room ).Then after we moved here I thought I might do some sewing teaching, and picked up yet another machine at a yard sale - that one is a late sixties / early seventies Brother. I am revisiting the idea of teaching, now that there are two shops here on the peninsula. 

A year ago I bought a nice old little Singer 99K    from the guy across the street. It is sweet, shiny, in it's case and it works well ( it was his mom's).
And a week or so ago, I got it's little sister - a Singer 221 Featherweight  complete, with all the attachments ( minus the optional buttonholer, but the one that my sister gave me a year ago might just fit ) in it's hard case. From a friend of a friend, for free. It was her mother's and no one in her family wanted it. She just wanted it to go to a good home.
It has plenty of company here.  

Today I plan to finish the spider web quilt. There's just the border quilting to do, then bind, label, and sleeve it for hanging in the show. Pictures will follow.

Feb. 17th, 2011

stitches
Last week I was in one of those moods. Sort of like this: 
Maybe you have no idea about this. But the above picture is damn close to describing it for me. I sort of want one of these to crawl into, but that would not be a good idea for lots of reasons.
I've been up and down before, and I know that it will pass, but while I'm there............not good. I've also learned to just do something to move forward, which for me is sewing. I'm so grateful that I have that to pour myself into - both good times and bad. 
I got a lot done - more items for the salon, work for a couple of clients, and got the three quilts done enough to get my entry forms filled out for the upcoming show. Thank goodness last week and it's 'bleh' is history. 

One of the highlights of the week for me was finding this:  in a jar of buttons while searching for something else. I swear I know the hundreds ( thousands?) of buttons that I have, at least the unique ones anyway. But where did this come from? It is plastic, and less than 3/4 inch high. I pinned it to the edge of my design wall, which causes me to smile each time my eyes land on it. 
I also made this baby quilt as my contribution to the WIC program that the guild collects for a few times a year.
  All of the fabrics and batting came from my stash, and I sort of made it up as I went along. It was going to be a nine-patch, but instead I did a sort of a flip and sew with each row that quilted it to the backing as I sewed it together. I 'almost' decided to put it on etsy to sell, but thought I should stick with my original intent (and I didn't want to come up with something else ).  This time there were a a total of twenty-two, which was the best collection to date. Pretty nice for our small guild of 55 members. 

Now I'm on to finishing the wall hanging - I got nearly done yesterday but we had a power outage late in the afternoon. Then it'll be on to the spider web quilting, and, and, and..........

I think I figured out how it starts

pattern
 Let me begin by saying: I am NOT a wall hanging person.

First, there was this little thing I did as a gift, and because I liked it so much, I made one for myself to keep. Why? I have no idea.  (but I am still NOT a wall hanging person )

Then, last year I made this small piece to try out the quilt-as-you-go technique (that I just used on the big quilt):
Both of these things have found a home in my sewing room.( but really, I am NOT a wall hanging person )

Then, at the retreat I went to last fall, after I had pretty much done all I could on the selvage spider web quilt, I began a project sort of on the fly. I had the box of selvages with me, so it seemed like a thing to do. I came home, put it away, and the other day I began working on it again, with the idea to finish it up to put it in our guild show in March. All that's left is to finish the quilting -- I'm once again attempting to do some free-motion work --and bind the edges.  It's about 44 inches wide x 38 high.
   ( but really, I am NOT a wall hanging person ) This one sort of began to take on a life of it's own. While looking through my (huge) scrap bin, I'd find another piece of fabric that would make just the right detail. Then parts started looking empty so I added a bit more. The detail pieces are all appliqued on and I used some machine stitching to define a little more.  
( a confession of sorts, I like it. )
 But what am I going to do with it???
I don't want to walk into my house in a year or two and find quilted wall hangings in every room. I will be vigilant, and no more wall hangings.

For now, anyway. 

que the music

pattern
 The quilt is finished.  well, except for the hanging sleeve and a label.  Those can go on later, but for now, here is the finished project:

and a shot of the back, with all of the little prints as they came up randomly :  
It is BIG, measuring 94 x 96 inches.  I had to wait until the guys were here and we had daylight; in order to take the picture, both the Richards had to stand on the fireplace hearth.  
I figure that the hand sewing on this is equal to going all the way around Richard's shop building, stitch by little stitch. I'm really pleased with the green sashing on the back, and the small print sashing on the front seems to disappear, which is exactly what I wanted. 

I've also got the border done for the spider web quilt, now on to the quilting, which I still need to figure out.  I now know how big it will be, so I can fill out my entry form for the guild show; then I have about six weeks to finish it up.
I've got some other stuff to get caught up on;  and I need to reconnect with the etsy shop ( which I've totally neglected since the holidays ).
For now I'll bask in the glow of completion. And rest my fingers. 

needling around

pattern
 I got the blocks all quilted, and like I said, got faster as I went along. By the middle of the bunch, I got it down to just over four minutes each. My quilting is not fancy free motion, but simple echo stitching. 

   

I count things: times, turns, strips, stops, steps, stairs, and sometimes stars.
In the quilting of each block there are 37 pivots. The only thing that made that do-able is my machine, which has an automatic pivot function. No presser foot lifter; you simply tap the foot pedal and the needle goes down and the presser foot raises slightly and you can pivot your work. That feature alone is the golden ticket. 
Then it was time to trim them all up before sewing them together with the sashing. I set up a little guide to make sure they were consistent.    

Then, I attempted to lay out all of them - on the floor - as the whole thing is too big for my design wall.  
Too big for the camera angle as well. But it worked out to nine rows of eleven blocks. I've gotten the blocks sewn into rows, and am now hand-sewing the back sashing down between each block. Then the rows can be joined and more hand work. Then the binding and voila! - I'll be finished. 
I can't help wonder what the heck I signed myself up for here. Once upon a time I hated handsewing.  I would do anything and everything to avoid it. Thank goodness thats not so much the case anymore. Though my fingers are starting to get a little sore, I may be back to that mindset before this project is over.
"Endeavor to Persevere"  
It is windy and rainy again. I think I should find a good movie and set about to the needle and thread work. 

Tags:

glitter

crabby
 We've been inundated with rain, and everywhere I go, that is the topic of conversation. Overheard in the next line at the store, between any two people whether they be strangers or not. How much rain? Over eleven inches since the start of the year, which is a lot even for here. It's hard to not be a bit depressed about it, but on the other hand it's a little comical. It's as though no one has anything else to say to each other, or they all want someone to commiserate with.
All of this makes the occasional sunny day that much nicer. The sun seems almost painfully bright when it peeks out, as noticed when you go out and people are smiling and squinting at the same time. 
The other night we decided to go clamming on the spur of the moment. We have plenty in our freezer, and it had been raining the first two nights of the three day dig. But, it had cleared up, and there was no wind so........ off we went with head-lights and a lantern to help with the hunt in the dark.  Now, I don't really eat clams. But, I love to dig them. Love. it. And I will cook them, but the cleaning needs to be done by someone else. I suppose it's the thrill of the hunt - looking for some small hole in the sand, or a slight indentation even. Of course there are the 'doughnut holes' that are the clear markers, but if the water is washing over the sand you just don't get those. I'll dig anything that looks 'different'  - and often I get lucky.( I secretly like to think of myself as the most skilled clam hunter in the house. ) It is hard in the dark - did I say that already? But I can't get enough of wandering around at a minus tide, and looking up and down the beach at the hundreds of lanterns in the dark. There are headlights from the vehicles that drive by, higher up on the beach; but the people are all out nearer the water, and all you see is the lanterns. There is no other light. As far north or south as you can see, its a magical glittering portrait with the sound only of the waves breaking and an occasional 'woo-hooo!' from someone who just scored one more toward their limit of 15. Every now and again someone hollers 'run' if a wave breaks and is flowing in with a little more gusto. When it's clear like it was on Saturday, there is the bonus of looking up at the sky. It is breathtaking seeing the billion stars that show up, as there's hardly any other light here.  
The catch wasn't so good - we only got ten clams between the three of us. One person held the lantern while the other two dug; we wandered for an hour and a half; I dug dozens of holes at anything I thought might be a winner, and ended up with five in my bag. The guys got three and one. Richard got swamped by a wave, and his boots full of water (which makes you cold and not much in the mood to keep on). Me, with my down coat on, made sure I ran when the waves approached and managed to stay dry and warm. I could have stayed out there for another couple hours, but the guys had had enough. Next time, maybe. The spring digs will all be in the morning, which is fun too, but the magic is not the same without all the stars above and the tiny lights in the distance. 

The last few nights have seen the return of the crab boats on the water. I can't help but do a count when I look out the window and see their lights shimmering out in the darkness. If it's clear like it was last night, I can see them if I wake in the middle of the night. I watch them slowly rise and fall with the ocean swells, and peeking in and out through the trees that are between us and the beach. It's sort of mesmerizing, and sometimes when there's a light fog just above the waters' surface, there's an added glow when they get close in to shore. The last few nights (and this morning) there have been no fewer than a dozen boats all working the area that I can see. Some are way out near the horizon, and those are like tiny stars that come and go as they weave and dip in the water. I know that they're working during the day too, but it is literally a sea of grey, and they're hard to spot.  It looks as if they mostly come out at night. Just for me. 
All this thinking about boats has me decided on what's for dinner: last nights' catch of crab. 
I'll be heading down to Ilwaco this afternoon to pick some up from our favorite fish market. The boats ( from in front of our house) bring them to her, she cooks it in the big kettle out front, and it's on the table tonight. Add in a couple artichokes, sourdough bread, a little lemon and some butter. 
The only decision left is what's for dessert. 
Hmm, what can I make thats sparkle-y?

the gift

pattern
 Last week when I got the surprise visit, my Mom brought along a box of ties that had belonged to my grandfather and my father. There were some gems in there. Some are seriously worn, some with stains, but most all of them are interesting. I can't help but marvel at tie design. Either the jacquard design or the print has to be on the bias for the pattern to set up to look like it does when the tie is worn. 
 This is the group that have something interesting somewhere on the front section. There was a total of 75 in the box, with six of them being super ginormous 1980's polyester ties. Discard. Or rather, pass them along. This left me with 69, and just under half had the groovy fronts. The rest of them are a nice mix    
There were a couple that I just fell in love with because.........  well, see??? I'm baffled as to the 'T' woven into the black one, it is very tiny - no more than half an inch tall. And those next to it, are they nails? golf tees? Some of them have labels - with style cues, even     and testimonials, even

Anyway, what to do with them is what I've been pondering while I work on the dresses quilt. This morning I thought to look for some inspiration on flicker, and I think I found it. Something on the order of this, and no, it's not one of those "tie skirts" or vests from the latter half of the last century (I don't want to be the old hippie chick, with my twirl tie skirt, and long hair with the tie headband). 
It will be added to the list, I think. 

So, the current progress on the dresses quilt is 66 blocks quilted!!!! Which leaves me 33 to go - hooray!  I am getting quicker, and so far no issues. A couple cute ones from the last group  I barely eeked out the pieces for this pink one of cute little dogs with green sombreros. 
Julie, I paired the back of this one with the front with you in mind. 

I'm hoping to finish these up today or tomorrow, then start working on the layout. 
Seems like a good plan, as it has begun raining again............



 

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