Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Platform Rocker: The Next Generation

I have lots of great memories of my early life with my father, but few possessions of his.  Many, many  years ago my mother gave me the platform rocker: "his" chair.  You know, the one he sat in all the time to read the paper, nap, think.  It lived in the corner of our dining room when I was growing up.  During my lifetime my mother had recovered it in a brown fabric but by the time it got to me it was in need of a redo.  I brought it to an upholsterer and chose a utilitarian blue fabric.  It became a much loved chair in my house.  The boys watched TV in it, argued over who got to sit in it and generally abused it even breaking one of the legs at one time.  So, I found a furniture restorer who was able to repair the leg just about as good as new.  But eventually after 20+ years of love by three boys, it looked like this:

The stuffing was flattened, the seat dirty and not visible in this picture is the side that the cat decided was a nice scratching post long ago.  I love this chair because it reminds me of my Dad.  When he sat here after work decompressing from his day he was approachable and available for my childish questions or to read me my favorite comic strip in the newspaper. Although Son #2 has no memories of my Dad, he has his own fond memories of this chair developed over his own childhood.  So when I offered to have it recovered again for them to use in their nursery, he was very excited.

His wife and I had a bit of trouble picking out fabric.  Our first three choices were discontinued!  But after two trips to the upholsterer and browsing countless sample books we finally found a fabric we were happy with and would go with the rest of her nursery choices.  I picked up the chair a few days ago:

The picture doesn't do it justice...maybe because it is taken with my phone in the shop.  I like how the chair is quiet and unassuming.  It doesn't jump out at you. The softness of the fabric invites you to sit and be cozy and comfortable.  My father was a quiet, unassuming man who provided for our needs, our safety and our comfort.  So in a way the chair has become a representation of that. I love the worn spots on the arms developed over the years and most of all the idea that there will be a connection between my father and his great grandchild.  I know that I could have bought a brand new chair for less, but I could never buy that connection.  I hope our new grandchild loves the chair too and builds his/her own fond memories of it.  I've told son #2 and his wife that the chair is to be used and loved.  Don't "save it for good" or worry about spills or stains.  Just use it, rock the little one in it and know that it has been a source of comfort for several generations of our family through the years.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Quilty Thanks

We will be having a houseful for this Thanksgiving which we will celebrate a day late to accommodate everyone's schedule.  I've been busy getting the house ready and the refrigerator filled.  Since much of the family lives a distance away, holidays are multiple day affairs with people coming and going according their available vacation days.  It can get rather confusing.  But I'm thankful to be seeing all of my grown men at some time during the weekend along with their partners and some additional family.

I also have some recent quilty things to be thankful for.  I was gifted some GREAT green scraps from a friend!  They will come in handy for the upcoming Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt as well as some other projects in the works.  Thanks, Friend!!

And...recently I've been a winner, twice!  First, from Heather at Quilts in the Queue I won a great book by Elizabeth Hartman. And then from Carol at Just Let Me Quilt I won a kit of some great boy fabric to make a pillowcase.

Thanks Friend, Heather and Carol for filling my mailbox and making me smile!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Busy Elfish Days

I've been busily sewing this last week, but  I'm not ready to share many of my projects since they will be Christmas gifts.  I did finish two service quilt tops for my local guild.  They will get passed on to another member (probably a long arm quilter) to be sandwiched and quilted.  Here's a picture of my contributions with some Christmas gifts peeking out underneath:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Tinker Tote

This tote is the main project of a Craftsy Class called Quilt As You Go Patchwork Bags by Tara Rebman.   I learned a lot from this project.  I made some choices along the way that actually made things a bit more difficult.  Someday I'll learn to just follow the directions! 

The class starts out with a potholder project...great for using up scraps.  It's a good way to learn the quilt as you go technique and gave me a place to practice a few binding techniques before deciding which one to use on the bag.
I need to mention about the cat fabric.  I won this in a giveaway at Lilypad Quilts during the Pets on Quilts contest.  The contest sponsor was Fabrics 'n Quilts.  Thanks Snoodles and Shannon!!  So sorry for taking so long to mention that, but it all happened the day before we left for vacation!
The blue fabric and lining came from my stash and the bottom is made out of denim from an old pair of jeans.  There is a zippered pocket, a patch pocket and a key fob inside and a magnetic closure.

So, what would I change?  I would have used the more traditional QAYG as presented in the video.  But, my thinking took this track:  I want to use this cat fabric.  It's not scraps, why not use larger pieces?  I think even using the strips I might have been happier if I had put them directly vertical instead of on an angle.  Once you go through the project one you realize what parts could have used an extra measure of attention.  For example, I wish I had positioned the magnetic snap a bit better, but all in all it was a great class and I would definitely recommend not just for the quilt as you go technique but for general bag construction and zipper pocket installation.  All the techniques can be applied in a lot of other projects; and I'm sure I'll make good use of them!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book #5: Elizabeth Street

This book was recommended by my genealogy sister.  Much like The Shoemaker's Wife, it tells the story of an Italian immigrant family at the turn of the century.  This family was from Southern Italy, a town named Scilla, and the book is based on true stories from the author's family.    Elizabeth Street was written by Laurie Fabiano, a former deputy mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey.  It's her first novel and truly well done.  The story reads like a novel, not a "documentary".  There is plenty of plot, yet it is so very real in the telling.  I especially appreciate the family tree at the beginning of the book to help keep the characters straight and the Italian/English glossary to help with the smattering of Italian words that add a real element to the story.  Elizabeth Street is a great read for both the human story and the history that it conveys.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Quilt Finish

I don't have a name for this quilt.  It's going to be a Christmas present for a friend of mine.  You might recognize the fabric.  This same friend gave me yards and yards of this fabric a while back.  I've made a few projects from it including a pair of pillowcases for her.  Whenever I visit and she has those pillowcases in use it just seems to brighten up the room so nicely that I thought she might enjoy a matching quilt.

I really enjoyed this project and am pleased with the outcome.  The pattern isn't original to me.  I found a picture on Pinterest which links back to this link.  I like the secondary pattern that comes out and the large pieces compliment the large print.  I've yet to make any pattern more than once, but this might be one I make again.  Variations in light and dark, width of the solid colors and border or no border give different looks to the pattern also.  There are examples of some variations at that original site.
I even enjoyed the free motion quilting this time AND....the binding!  It seems like on my machine polyester threads work better for FMQ than cotton.  I think perhaps they take the directional stresses a bit better? (Just a guess from someone who knows little about the whole thing)  And for the binding I sewed it on the back and machine sewed it down on the front using just a plain old straight stitch. I might like it better than the zig zag and fancy stitches that I've used in the past. And since the stitch was straight and I used the straight stitch foot and single whole plate it was easier to keep everything looking nice and even.  The thread contrasts on the red binding but matches the backing and it's stitched so that the bottom thread hits inside the back binding.
The colors sort of scream Quilts of Valor and Alycia, if your reading this....I had so much fun on this one, maybe they'll be a QOV one for 2014.
Here's a few more pictures.  I found this great backing on sale at the Quilter's Corner near Richmond.  It has become our half way stop when we go to the beach.  It's definitely worth the stop if you're ever in that area.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Country Threads Block of the Month: November

I'm still managing to keep up with the Country Threads Block of the Month.  I think this was the most difficult block yet.  You can see that the small one is way off on the bottom left corner, but I was ready to be done today.  Perhaps I'll go back and redo that corner later.  Some, or several of my measurements were clearly off:

I had some extra time to play with possible sashing colors this month.  So far I've decided that I DO want to use sashing and that it should be a dark color.  I had these three colors on hand and thought I'd give them a try.  Most of the blocks look good on the navy, but a few get lost because they have dark pieces on the outside.  The same can be said for the green and the red.  I had a new idea - what if I framed each pieces in one of these three colors using the one that contrasted best with that particular block?  Or would that just end up looking too busy - exactly what I was trying to avoid by using sashing in the first place?  Please, let me know what you think.  I'm looking for some input here.  These next two pictures look the same, but I switched the blocks around a bit to see them on different colors:

Maybe it would help if I primarily used one of the colors switching out only when that color was clearly a poor match for a particular block.  Or perhaps I should just stick with the green and the blue?  I'm anxious to hear other thoughts.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Postcrossing: Postcards from the World!

 I've posted before about how very much I enjoy getting mail.  I've always enjoyed mail.  I was the kid who every summer would write to someone listed in the back of comic books looking for pen pals.  I was probably some guy in prison somewhere, but it was mail!  I still keep in touch with several family members including son #1 by written letter and one of my dearest possessions is a pile of letters written to me by my parents many years ago when I was at summer camp and then during my first year of college.

So, when I heard recently about a site called Postcrossing that would result in people sending me mail, my immediate thoughts were:  "This was made for ME!" and "How is it that I haven't heard about this before?!?!?"
Postcards Exchange
I've only just joined and have yet to start getting mail, but it works something like this.  You sign up for free and start sending postcards.  Once you've sent five and they are received, you get on the list to have postcards sent to you.  Your address isn't listed on the site, it is just emailed to the person who sends you a card.  For added security I rented a box at my local Post Office but that isn't a requirement.  Each postcard gets a number assigned to it by the site.  The receiver then registers the card by that number which makes it clear that it reached it's intended destination.  It also helps them keep track of statistics like how many cards are sent across how many miles and to how many different countries. The person who told me about this had shoe boxes filled with cards from all over the world!  He has been doing this for several years and some of the cards are very interesting.  You can even put a preference for a particular type of card.  For example, he likes to get pictures of bridges whenever possible.
The total cost for this new hobby of mine includes my box rental ($20 for 6 months in my area); postcards (50 cents to one dollar each) and postage (33 cents domestic; $1.10 for a global forever stamp which sends a postcard anywhere in the world).
So, if you like little surprises in your mailbox from places far and wide....check it out. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

October Wrap Up

The year is drawing to a quick close. It will soon be time for reflection on what was accomplished over the year and for plans for the next year.  The thing is, in this season of my life I really want to just enjoy what I'm doing - not strive to accomplish a list. Neither do I want to sit around all day watching TV.  But, just to put my new collage making skills to good use, here is a recap of the past month:
From the top left:  I worked on my Country Threads Block of the month; finished my knitted dishcloths; started a teeny tiny paper pieced project; finished a baby quilt and entered it and the blue wave quilt in the Blogger's Quilt Festival (you can view the festival at the previous link, vote for your favorite in each category and enter to win a sewing machine and other prizes.  There are some awesome quilts there to inspire you.); started a quilt with that large print fabric in the lover left; finished a quilt for another contest that I'll tell about in a few weeks and visited the Land of Oz.

I guess that's not too bad considering all the fall yard work that comes with this time of year.  I'm going to link up with Lily's Fresh Sewing Day