Saturday, September 22, 2012

Buried in Scraps!

Each year I make a "summary" quilt with bits and pieces from my projects throughout the year.  To be fair, since I've been at this for less than two years I've only made one of these.  But I have plans to make another for 2012 projects.  Anyway, to this end I tend to save every scrap of fabric.  Now, I really only create one block for each project so I don't need all that many scraps.  But it seems like I can't throw them away.  While I was going through my scrap basket this year I thought, "Any sane person would just throw most of these in the trash!"  But did I?  No. 

So today I stumbled upon this blog post:

I really don't remember how I got there.  A click here, a click there, something catches your eye and then, there you are.  This post gives recommended sizes to cut your scraps into.  Then if a piece is too small for any of those  So, I've resolved to do this.  My next organization project will be to cut and organize my scraps and throw away the left overs.   Amen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Butterfly Pillow and RV Pillows

I mentioned a few days ago that the recipient of the owl pillow I made recently requested a matching butterfly pillow to complete her decor.  It's finished and on it's way along with a few other goodies for her brothers so that they don't feel left out.
I also found some fun fabric recently with a variety of recreational vehicles on it and decided to make a pair of pillows for a family member who enjoys the RV lifestyle.  This was my first attempt at a bolster pillow so I'm on the steep side of the learning curve on that one.  But, on the plus side, the fabric store in my town often has "out the door" specials and they had several types of piping for 10 and 25 cents a yard.  I stocked up and used some on this square pillow.  I have used a zipper foot in the past to attach piping but it wasn't working out for me this time so I tried my open toe applique foot.  I remember the woman who sold it to me commenting on the large groove on the underside of the foot being good for attaching trim.  I moved my needle all the way to the right and ran the trim under the foot.  I was very pleased with the result!  The piping is nice and tight all around.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book #5: For One More Day

I've just completed another book: For One More Day by Mitch Albom.  This is also on the short side so together with my last book, I can mark off one more toward my goal of reading six books this year.
For One More Day
This is one of those thought provoking books.  A man who has made many mistakes in his life is given another day with his mother who had died years earlier.  He is able to finally get the answers to some questions from his younger days and to say the things that often go unsaid to those we love.  The fact that it was a mother - son relationship was particularly significant to me. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Book #4 1/2: The Sting of Success

Wednesday I was stuck in the waiting room of a doctor's office and very bored.  Then I remembered that my smart phone had an Amazon Kindle app with a few books on it including The Sting of Success by Luke Maucione.  This is more of a short story so I feel like I'm cheating to include it as a whole book for my reading goal, hence the "4 1/2" designation.  The book is only available in electronic form at the above link.  It's a quick read and a clever, if slightly dark, plot.  I'm especially fond of this work since the author is my nephew. 
The Sting of Success

I enjoyed the story and the ending and it was the first time I've read a published work by someone I know! Way to go Luke!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quilting Mistakes

I've only been quilting about a year and a half.  And I dove right in - didn't take a class, read just a bit online when there was something I needed to know.  So needless to say I've made my share of mistakes and done a few things the hard way out of ignorance of an easier way.  I had a teacher once who told me, "You will learn more from your wrong answers than your right answers."  I've found that to be SO true.  You remember the mistakes, and the solutions longer than the answers that you didn't struggle with.  So, in that spirit I like to embrace those mistakes as warmly as my successes, even when they require me to rip out stiches or cut the binding (one of my nemesis) yet again.

Today's mistake was minor, but amusing.  I'm trying to create a butterfly pillow to match the owl pillow that I made recently.  This is a "commissioned piece" from my great niece the recipient of the owl pillow.  She feels that her new bedroom needs a pair of coordinating pillows and butterflies and owls are her current favs.  This has been a very slow going project because I'm working in short sessions between multiple other duties.  Apparently when I traced the fusible bond I used my favorite erasable pen.  Then I went to iron on the bond....and the markings disappeared totally!   I had forgotten that what makes these pens erasable is friction - or heat.  So the iron just erased the markings totally.  Fortunately I had started on a small piece and will be able to retrace it through the fabric and bond.  I was sure to trace over the large piece with another pen before ironing it on and next time I reach for that pen for an applique, I'll lay it right back down. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sewing Needles and Lawn Tractors

Every spring we ponder one of the mystery's of life:  who buys all those riding lawn mowers?  We drive by the big box stores and there is an army of mowers lined up outside each one.  You would think that this is a purchase one only needs to make a very few times in their life.  And yet, it seems that hundreds - maybe thousands - are sold each year in our town.  Who buys them?  And where do they go?

I realized that I had a similar opinion about sewing needles.  I have quite a few hand sewing needles from various sources and thought that there was little need to buy any unless you happened to lose the ones you had or you needed a different type of needle: longer, shorter, different size eye or whatever.  And then the light bulb went off in my head!  I had a particularly frustrating hand sewing task to do and was having difficulty with my "cheater needle".  The thread would split or pull out of the eye or twist on itself.  My hand was aching from the task of trying to use it so I decided to try a conventional style needle.  I choose a new one out of an unopened package.  Imagine my surprise when the needle slide through the fabric like butter?!?!  And then it hit me - you buy a new needle because yours has become dull!  I know - obvious, silly, something I should have known.  But sometimes we don't realize how narrowed our thinking has become.  It was a simple answer that I never considered until I experienced it.

The mowers, on the other hand, remain a mystery.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Buttons Tell a Lot About A Woman

I've been working on several small projects lately and one of them needs a few buttons.  It so happens that I have inherited the button collections of two great women:  my mother and my mother-in-law.  I also have a small button collection of my own.  I was looking through the collections for a compatible button and noticed that in a small way each collection tells a story and brings to mind a different set of memories.

For instance, this is my mother's button collection in the original container.  The collection has been around for my entire life.  I remember looking through it when I was growing up.  I remember that she kept it in the dining room hutch behind the bottom left side door.  Occasionally I would try to"organize" the buttons for her, but with this group the task was nearly impossible.
I remember a lot of these buttons, too.  Some of them were from clothing she wore, some just were always there.  And the collection speaks to my mothers practical nature.  She saved every button.  If a garment wore out and became a rag, she harvested the buttons first. There were a few fancy ones, but most of them were very practical buttons.  The drawers also contains some stray items - medals, coins, upholstery and hat pins.  I've kept them there just because it seems like that's where they should be.  About 8 years ago I made a set of tab valances for my kitchen and used these buttons as decoration at each tab - a practical use for the buttons of a practical sewer.

Next I have my mother-in-laws buttons.  These were stored in two plastic containers inside her sewing box.  I put them into this jar.  She did a lot of embroidery, but I don't believe she ever did garment sewing or quilting.  She was a very elegant woman whose dress was impecible.  She was tall and thin and looked good in most fashions.  She favored Pendelton, Neiman Marcus and Lord and Taylor for her clothing.  And most of these buttons came from the extras that are attached to each dress or suit.  What strikes me most about her collection is that when I open the jar, I smell her perfume!  And I'm immediately transported back to the little bit of time that I was privileged to spend with her before she died.

And lastly there are my buttons.  My collection is a mixture of leftovers from projects, extras from clothing and those buttons that fall off but you never get to sew them on and then one day you realize that you no longer own the garment anyway.  They tend to be practical but not as plentiful as my mother's and there are very few "extras" mixed in with the buttons.  Some represent garments made for me in the past or favorite items and several are from the husbands shirts or coats.
On occasion the practical me thinks that I should just combine all the buttons in a more practical container, but then the sentimental me wins out and I decide to keep it all as is.  I like to open the squeeky draws of my mother's collection and think of her searching for the correct number of identical buttons to complete her project.  I like to open my mother-in-laws jar of buttons and smell the faint wiffs of her perfume and I like to see my button collection grow through the different seasons of my life adding to it now and again with different projects.

I think I may be the last "keeper of the buttons".  I have no daughters.  My sons would think the whole thing silly.  Perhaps a daughter-in-law will pick up the baton and carry on the button collection or perhaps I will be blessed with a grand daughter and live long enough to share the button stories with her.  But for now I will remain the "keeper of the buttons" using a few here and there as I need them.  It's not a collection for the sake of a collection.  It's a practical, working collection - because that's the way a button collection is most appreciated by all - when you find that one special button that gives just the right look for your project, or just the right closure for your pants!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tissue Holders and a Baby Book

In between yard work, gardening and general "stuff" I was able to finish two small projects: a cloth baby book and some tissue holders.  I made the baby book from a printed panel.  My primary goal was to figure out how these books go together so that eventually I could make one of my own.  They're really a pretty simply construction.  And they make use of some batting scraps, too.

The tartan tissue holders were made to match the tote bags that I made earlier.  I thought these would make good Christmas stocking stuffers.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Yard Sale Report

I thought it might be fun to post about the first item bought at our yard sale this weekend.  We had quite a collection of junk....oh, I mean, treasures, at the start of the sale.  Even though I listed the start time as 7:30am, when I opened the door at 7:00am to bring things out there were people waiting to get first dibs at the boxes!  So at first we had many, many lookers who bought little.  It always seems to me that they are searching for that valuable antique that I marked at 25 cents because I didn't realize it's value.  Perhaps I passed that test since the only sale from the first group was.....a black rubber snake!!  This was part of my friends merchandise.  It had hung over her son's bed for a long time and now it needed a new home.  That was a big 50 cent purchase.  The second item bought were some socks.  Neither of those would have been my guesses so my perfect record of incorrectly guessing the first sale item continues.  But most of the large items moved and in the end I had only three small boxes and a bag of items to donate to a local charity.

Perhaps the strangest story occurred after the sale.  The husband and I were watching TV last evening when there was a knock on my door.  Someone who had been at the sale Saturday noticed the dried seed pods on my red bud tree at the end of the driveway and wanted to know if she could pick some to bring home and decorate her house.  I guess that treasures are in the eye of the beholder and sometimes to be had right under our noses!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Trash and Treasure

Twice a year my neighborhood has a community wide yard sale and Saturday is "the" day.  So we've been busily cleaning out closets and creating a "store" in the garage.  I have a friend who joins me in this craziness and this year my sister will also be participating in the fun in preparation for her upcoming move.  Usually the husband finds a reason to be away, but this year I've recruited him to be support staff for those of us on the front lines.  Saturday is usually chaotic and fast paced starting at first light and finishing by early afternoon.  This year we've decided to start on Friday to get a "jump on the action."  Truth be told, there is so much work to get ready that it seems to make more sense to offer our treasures for two days and increase our odds of not having to handle these items again.

You might be thinking, "Why not just donate this stuff?"  And you would have a valid point.  And often we do just make a trip to one of the many charities in town.  But sometimes the yard sale venue offers a bit of satisfaction that a donation doesn't.  When I have a "treasure" that I'm finally ready to part with and someones trades me some money for it (even if it's just 25 cents) it makes me think that they want and value my "treasure".  Maybe they don't value it too much - especially those who will offer me 10 cents for an item I've priced at 25 - but they've made the effort to take it home, so they must see something in that old album or coffee pot or jigsaw puzzle.

And I'm always amused by the choices people make.  Sometimes we try to guess what items will sell first.  Our track record is about perfect....we are most always wrong.  Occasionally the item that I almost threw in the trash is the first one sold!  And the item that seems like a wonderful treasure to me remains unsold at the end.  We have one fairly firm rule, though:  nothing returns to the house.  If it doesn't sell, it goes directly into the car to be taken to a local charity.  I will admit that there are occasional exceptions to that rule, but for the most part we determine to let go of our "treasures" one way or another.

The real reward is the space in the closets and the empty shelves in the garage rather than the money.  I'm one of those people who feels calmer and uncluttered of mind when my surroundings are also uncluttered.  It's just hard to balance that with some of the memories that I tie to various objects.  But, as I said from the start, life is a balancing act. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Very Favorite "Dog Day"

I posted about this last year, but another Dog Swim Day has come and gone.  Once a year our town pool allows dogs and their owners to swim.  It's always on Labor Day weekend just before they drain the pool and winterize it.  Seamus LOVES to swim and being able to join him in the water is a real treat for me.  He likes to retrieve but he is just as happy to swim out to me and swim back to the edge even without a toy to grab.  I was afraid the event would be cancelled this year since the day started off very rainy.  But we were told that absent any lightening or thunder we were welcomed to swim. 
Although this picture looks almost exactly like the one I posted last year, it is a new one.  I can see just how much he has greyed in the last year.  But he swam and swam and swam seemingly without tiring; although he did sleep pretty soundly that night!  He was awarded a coupon for a doggie ice cream bowl at our local ice cream stand.  Perhaps tonight we will make use of it.

The admission cost (just $2.00) for the event is donated this year to a group called Happy Dogs Unleashed.  They are trying to raise money for a local dog park where friendly dogs can play without being on a lead.  Apparently most of the cost is for fencing in the area.  Petsmart was also on hand providing tennis balls and general support.

We always enjoy watching the other dogs and their owners interact.  Our favorite this year was a little girl about seven years old.  She had a small fluffy dog (couldn't identify the breed...especially soaking wet) that she was determined was going to swim with her.  The dog wanted NO part of the water.  She would try to lead him in as he pulled the other way on the lead.  Then she would finally pick him up and carry him into the pool.  He would scramble until he was again on dry land and then she would start the process all over again.  That was one determined little miss!  The dogs tolerance to the whole situation is also a testament to his good nature.

I wish we could do this more often but for now I'll just have to wait until next year.