Oh, so that's how that fits together...

Well, yesterday, I visited my local quilt shop with my gift card from my boss...yes, he called the quilt shop to buy me a gift card and had it mailed to me. 

Anyway, I bought the olive green solid for the front and a matching print for the back.  And, I washed it...btw, the color catcher came out white!  And, I ironed it and I cut the first set of shapes out of it.  And, I started putting it together into rounds and partial rounds. 

I thought the arcs would be the hard part.  I was wrong.  It takes lots of marking and matching and pinning to get the sections together.  Like, prep for 40 minutes, sew for 10.

But, that's okay.  It's gonna be worth it in the end.  Right? 


Have a great Sunday.  Lane


They took it back!

They didn't want to.  In fact, I'm pretty sure the manager thought she was doing the wrong thing.  But, she did it. 

I confess that I drove by yesterday.  I just wasn't up to any possibility of a conflict.  But, as I drove on, I was "refortified" and figured out exactly how I wanted to start the conversation and I turned around and gave it a try. 

I asked if I could return a piece of fabric.  The sales clerk said sure, as long as you haven't washed it.  And, I said, well, I washed it and that's when the problem started.  I showed her my color catchers and explained that the dye was unstable and the fabric would never stop bleeding.  She called the manager and I explained it all again.  And, the manager agreed to give me my money back.  But, she was very hesitant and timid about it.  I almost felt sorry for her.  Anyway, she had the sales clerk measure the fabric...and pointed out I should have 5 yards and I pointed out I'd have some shrinkage.  And, the sales clerk measured it and there was over 5 yards.  5.75 yards to be exact.  And, I was like, that's a miscut.  I really only thought I was getting 5 yards.  Nobody thought that was funny except me. 

So, we did the business and I walked out a happy customer.  At the end, the manager said so you just didn't think it would stop bleeding?  And, I said answered that I'd washed it four times and it sure didn't look like it was ever going to stop.  I think she was worried she was going to have to explain that later. 

Now, here's what I gleaned from my Kona research.  I don't remember where I read it, but you can find it if you search for kona cotton bleeding.  I mentioned two Kona's yesterday.  There is Kona and there is kona.  Kona with a capital K is a brand name manufactured by the Robert Kaufman company in the US.  kona with a lower case k is an adjective, used to describe a cotton made in Pakistan...If I didn't get that right, it's cause I was working and reading at the same time. 

Anyway, what the big box stores sell is often a lower case k.  I didn't go check the bolt...it didn't seem the right time.  But I intend to, the next time I'm in Hancock Fabrics. 

I've gotten to the re-quilting phase of the Dresden Plate quilt.  When I did the stability quilting along the sashing lines, I messed up this corner.  So, when I quilted around the plate, it was off too.  Now, it's time to put the straight lines in to form the corner, and it's my last chance to correct it. 

When I quilted this the first time, the backing didn't hang over the edge of the frame.  and the corner shifted on me and "hiked up" about a half inch.  It was an obvious mistake.  And, my thought at the time was, oh, I'll cut that extra fabric off.  A half inch off one part of one side of a border.  Like the judge won't notice.  Granted, I was probably very tired of struggling with that corner at the time.   

Anyway, it's fixed now and the quilting proceeds.  I will say that picking out yellow thread from yellow fabric is a pain.  Literally.  It'll give a headache.  I'd say "what was I thinking?" except that yellow thread is perfect in this quilt in every aspect...except error correction.

Everybody have a great Friday.  Lane


Letting go of the outcome

Sometimes, you have to do things without caring how they end up.  This is one of those times. 

I bought a piece of Kona cotton at Hancock Fabrics on Sunday. 

I'm going to try to return it today. 

You can see from the color catchers, this fabric is never going to stop bleeding.  I can't trust it and I won't use it. 

As I struggled with this piece of fabric, I remembered that a few years ago, I made this exact same mistake...except I didn't have the receipt.  And, that piece of fabric went into the trash.  I'd hate to throw this one away, too.

This made me angry.  Very angry.  Like, some of the stress of last week got vented into this piece of fabric kind of angry.  Especially because Kona hasn't responded to my emails...very politely worded emails, and yes that was hard to do at the time...advising me what I should do about it. 

So, I haven't tried to return it...because that wouldn't have been good for anybody.  But, last night I was able to talk about it to Rob and today, I'm talking about it to you, and I've given up on whether I get my money back for this piece of fabric or not.  It is my intention to ask for my money back.  And, if I don't get it, I'll pull out my gentleman smile and leave. 

It will not be the last $35 I waste in this lifetime.  And, it won't break me.  And, it's not worth being upset about. 

And, I think our double wedding ring quilt is going to have an olive green background instead of red.  And, I think I'll buy it from a reputable quilt store. 

I didn't know Kona came from two places.  And, only one of them is good.  That's very confusing.  You'd think the good place would stop the bad place from hurting the brand. 

Everybody have a great Thursday.  Wish me luck!  And, calm!



Folding day

As the curator of a vintage quilt collection, I have a responsibility to care for my quilts. 

Ha!  Them's big words for I inherited a bunch of quilts and take good care of 'em.

Anyway, once a year, we have "folding day".  That means I pull out all the quilts and refold them along different lines.  When you fold a quilt, you stretch the fabric on the fold lines.  And, you scrunch other fabric up inside the fold lines.  Refolding releases the stretch and the scrunch and moves them to a different part of the quilt.  This helps the quilt wear more evenly. 

I have a lot of quilts.

This is just some of them.  I had a nice collection going before I got the family quilts.  It took Sydney and I a couple hours to refold them all. 
I'm working on my storage.  I've exceeded my space, and that's with more than a dozen of my own hanging on the wall at any given time.  And, I'd like to roll as many of my quilts as I can to relieve the stretch of folding them.  I store them in a wooden armoire.  I know that is bad...really, really bad.  But, honestly, most of the family quilts were stored the exact same way before they came to my Mom, and they aren't stained and worn...I know, cumulative long term effect.  Anyway, I'm changing how they are stored.  I'm making bags for them to keep dust off and to protect them from the wood.  And, I'm working on rolling some and putting them in sleeves.  You can see my efforts in the direction on the left. 
When we finished refolding, I looked at the stack and decided to make some bags.  And, I had a bunch of table cloths that don't fit my table that I had made over the years.  And, I have a serger.  And, about an hour later, I had about 8 new large clean bags to store quilts in.  There are yellow, white, and flowery new bags.  Different sizes and shapes.  I need to work on a labeling system, but I have to be careful.  Just because a quilt fit in a bag this time doesn't mean it will when it's refolded next year.  So, the labeling needs to be easily movable. 
Okay, so for those of you wondering how many ways you can fold a quilt, these folds result in a nice shape for storage.  Some result in a long pillow shape and some end up almost square. 
fold in half, in half again, then fold in thirds
or third, third, half
or half, third, third
Anyway, I always get to enjoy all the quilts on folding day.  This year, this tie quilt was my favorite. 
I love this quilt.  And, I have plans for it.  We got it in a St Vincent de Paul in Arkansas for $30.  I think it got donated because the blue quilting lines have become permanent.  Anyway, I'd like to try to remove them and if I can't, I'm thinking about re-quilting it with blue thread and adding a lot more quilting to hide the blue marks.  I don't know what I'd ever use it for.  Maybe I'd never use it.  But, I'd like to try to do something with it so that when it leaves my hands, it's better than it was when it came into them...or at least no worse. 
I've bought lots of vintage quilts and tops to finish.  I get a real kick out of taking someone else's unfinished work and turning it into something beautiful.  I'm a firm believer that sometimes, a disaster just needs a new set of eyes.  We get so bogged down in our vision of what a quilt will be that we lose interest when it goes in an unexpected direction.  A new set of eyes starts in whatever direction that is, and takes it from there. 
Everybody have a great Wednesday.  Anybody else thinking about Barbara Brackman's 2016 mystery?  The first block comes out today. 


Hospital time

There is nothing like time spent in the hospital, right?

I was on a business trip this week.  I kept getting texts about how sick Rob was.  I started to worry when Sydney asked the neighbor to come over and help.  Then, I talked to Rob and told him he needed to go to the hospital. 

He finally went. 

And, they admitted him with severe dehydration, loss of kidney function, and a bacterial infection. 

When I told my boss (God love him), he said "go home.  call and change your flight, don't worry about the extra cost." 

So, I changed my flight and came home early.  Got home about 11 and stopped at the hospital on my way home.  Apparently they don't let you sleep at the hospital, so it was no big deal to get there that late. 

They let him out yesterday, about 24 hours after he was admitted. 

He's weak.  And he hurts from multiple hours of being sick.  But, he's on the mend.  He'd be feeling better if he hadn't called me Nurse Ratched.  Maybe I'd give him something to relieve his bloating. 

Just kidding.  He's on multiple antibiotics and pain meds.  And, he's weak. 

Anyway, it's all bland food and rice and juice for a few days for him.  And, subsequently for us. 

Gonna brag on me for a second.  My cooking has fit the bill, getting everything going again, with a minimum of discomfort.  (SCORE!)

And, as much as I could, I sewed my stress away.  I've made arcs.  Remember I mentioned making a red double wedding ring quilt with neutral rings? 

I started. 

I found a pattern.  I really wanted a pattern that made circular rings.  Some of the patterns get kind of square and I didn't want that.  I made the paper arcs out of freezer paper instead of regular white paper.  That method is so easy, using needle punching to make my copies.  I made 8 copies of the arc pattern (honestly, it took longer to cut the paper than to make the copies).  4 arcs make a full ring.  I've made 40 arcs so far.  I can make 8 arcs in just under an hour.  It's going to take a lot of arcs to make a queen sized quilt.  It takes 80 to make the quilt in the pattern.  And, it's only 56x56.  I'm going to need at least 36 rings, 20 more than the pattern, so that's at least 160 arcs, likely closer to 200.  But, I'm not going to worry about that right now.  This is a long term piecing project that can be used as a leader/ender if I get distracted by something else shiny.

I wanted a scrappy look in my neutrals.  I have lots of neutrals and browns.  I store them in three stacks; light, med, dark.  I took about a third of my lights and about a third of my mediums, cut one strip off the end, subcut into squares (2.5x2.5), and that made 40 arcs.  So, I'm really not worried about having enough fabric variety.  Where the rings come together (shown above as large red incomplete squares) will be dark browns.  The red in the picture isn't the right one.  The right one will be darker, more of a cranberry color.  I'll need to acquire and wash that.  But, I'm figuring I've got plenty of time there. 

I realize that working on this project is my stress release.  I have a whole quilt that I quilted while Syd was recovering from knee surgery, so I know this game and I am very receptive to it.  It's a great way for me to burn off some energy and relax while Rob recovers.  And, it feeds my soul.

I also finished the little bonus quilt.  I took it on the trip, and I mostly got the binding sewn on, but I finished at the hospital. 

I am particularly proud of that narrow binding. 

I will definitely be using the single fold binding method on the rest of my small quilts.  It finished at a true quarter inch. 

Everybody have a great weekend!  Keep quilting! 



Amping up the knitting bag

I love to knit socks.  It's another very relaxing thing that I do, and I can do it while I watch TV.  When I get into the zone, I don't have to watch the needles and can knit just by feel.  Knitting socks is great for travel, very portable and convenient and I can do it in an airplane seat without banging into the passenger next to me. 

A while back, I decided I wanted a masculine drawstring knitting bag.  I know.  What a contradiction in terms, right?  a masculine knitting bag?

Well, I did it. 

And, it worked great.  But, when it came to travel, it still had a problem.  Stuff fell out of it.  Knitting doesn't take a lot of tools, but it does take a few and there was nothing to keep them in the bag if it fell.  I also had a problem with my pattern.  I had worn it out.  There were holes developing along the fold lines.  This whole project started because I wanted to do something about that. 

You can see the old copy of the pattern on white paper.  I created a table in Word that was two columns wide and I typed the pattern in the squares, allowing myself 10 rows of text, plus three blank rows at the top to give me space to punch a hole.  I put them on a ring and added the hematite dangle as a bookmark.  But, I knew it wouldn't take long for me to wear that out if I kept it loose in the bag, so I made a little wallet to hold it.  And, while I was at it, there's a second pocket in the wallet to hold my small scissors. 

And, then I went crazy.

I took the bag completely apart and added a pocket along the side with a button flap closure (if you do this, put the pocket lower in the bag than I did.  it interferes with the drawstring so high up).  It holds the row counter and the tape measure and the extra little things I like to keep in this bag. 

It already had this pocket to hold extra needles and a crochet hook to help me correct mistakes, and it got a button flap. 

This is something I found a while back.  You know those corkscrew bracelets you find with a  keyring attached?  I took one and cut it into small sections and I can slip the ends of my needles into it to keep them convenient.  If I'm worried about my work slipping off the other end, I can put another one there.  The are loose enough that they don't warp or bend the needles, but tight enough that the needle can't slip out. 

I also finished quilting the little bonus quilt. 

I did something a little different with the binding.  Ellen Carter spoke at guild this month.  She and her sister made the quilts for the miniature red and white quilt exhibit that you might have seen at a show.  It's been all around the country.  Anyway, she makes her double fold binding, then cuts part of the fabric away so that the binding isn't as thick when you sew it down.  As in, cut a 2" strip, fold it in half, then cut away 3/4" along one side so that you have a one inch binding with a quarter inch folded over along one side.  Sew the unfolded edge to the front of the quilt with the machine, and then sew the folded edge along the back by hand.  I wasn't willing to make the binding and then throw half of it away, so I cut my binding 1 1/8" wide and sewed a marking line along one edge a quarter inch in, then used the iron and folded along that marking line.  There's something about having that line of stitching that makes the fabric fold really easily, like a perforation.  Then, I did just like Ellen to attach it.  Now, I just need to find the time to sew it down along the back.

Here's the back.  It's slightly larger than a fat quarter, so I needed to add the stripe along the top and then made the sleeve out of the same fabric and added it with the binding.  When I sew the binding to the back, it will cover the raw edge of the sleeve.  This ends the little pack of 6 fat quarters I got for Christmas. I've used them up...and gotten two quilts out of it. 

Okay, that's it for me today.  It's going to be a busy day of chores and some yard work.  Everybody have a great Sunday!! 




Hand quilting is so relaxing.  I really can sit at the frame until my fingers hurt.  I have a good quilter's callous going on.  And, the inside of my good hand quilting thimble is rusted and needs to be cleaned and have nail polish painted inside.  But, who can stop quilting long enough for that?

This is exactly how this quilt is left most days, scissors, hemostat needle puller, thimble, and the needle in the fabric. 

This is the last border of this queen sized quilt to finish.  And, I'm feeling a little nostalgic.  You know how it is when you really want something, in this case, to have this quilt finished, and yet you still want the experience of finishing it to go on.  Anyway, just because I have it all quilted doesn't mean it's finished.  There is rework to do. 

This is a finished corner. 

But, that's cool too.  The rework is minimal and the show I plan to enter it in isn't until September.  So, it should all be good.  I went back and read Elsie Campbell's book Winning Stitches this week at lunch hours.  It's always good for me to go back and study during a project.  I'm proud to say that I hit all the things Elsie covers.  My stitches are a little bigger than I wish. Yes, I can hit 12 per inch.  But, I also hit 10 per inch.  And, sometimes 8 per inch.  I know judges look at that closely, but I'm hoping the number of stitches also counts for something and make those small sections where my stitches are larger less significant.  Elsie stresses that the back needs to show the stitches as clearly as the front, so I've looked at the back and am feeling pretty proud of that, too.  I'm not planning to pull and replace stitches because of their size. 

But, I did some echo work around those Dresden plates.  I don't know what I must have been thinking.  But, there's like three different approaches taken...like, one line of echo, 1/4" out.  Then, another one with two lines, 1/8" apart.  And, another that's got a 1/8" echo and a 1/4" echo.  That's gotta be fixed.  Looks like it was quilted by many quilters.  Which, I've gotta say, is a great look.  It really makes this quilt look a little more period to the fabrics used in the plates, the 50's; like it was quilted at a bee or something.  But, it's not good for a show piece. 

I'm very happy to report that Sydney remains rational.  And, adult.  And, I'm not getting it.  The only thing I can accredit it to is her seeing us change over the last few months.  The biggest change is that she is taking responsibility for her own actions.  Well, that, and we aren't taking responsibility for her actions.  So, it's not us saying she can't do something because of her grades.  It's her knowing she can't do it because of her grades without us having to say anything.  Small shift, but a necessary one...and honestly, one I wasn't sure she'd ever take.  I am so hopeful that it is permanent...because our home is a much more peaceful place.  And, taking responsibility on a consistent basis is one of the hardest things ever and one constant characteristic of people that are both happy and successful. 

Everybody have a great Friday.  It's been a very long and stressful week at the office.  Everybody trying to do that thing they should have done last year and didn't get to.  Except I got to all my things and don't quite understand why I'm having to help all these other losers out...

just kidding.  I don't think of them as losers. 

Or at least I won't anymore by February.



A definite sweatshop

I spent a shameful amount of time in the sewing studio this weekend.  But, in the end, I managed to make a bedspread and two shams and to clean out the neighbor's flowerbed and go to brunch with new friends.  So, I guess I managed to squeeze in a lot, considering it was just two days.

But, I didn't scrub the shower.  And, I'm okay with that. 

I'm not going to start with the before picture.  I'll show it, but not first.  And, I don't have pics of anything else to show first, so we're going with the new bedspread and shams.  Stipes.  I love a good stripe.  And, you can barely see my seams.  I'm really happy with it. 


The next thing to change is the headboard.  Solid Khaki.  And, then a new bed skirt.  Probably olive green.  And, we have new art to frame.  And, Mabel's chair is getting a new quilt.  She needs something that can be washed very frequently. 

We definitely got our money out of the things I made in 1999 when I bought the house.  Several dogs and a couple of cats lived on this bed in that time.  And, it wasn't too bad...

But, I'm sure not going to miss it.  That's a long time to live with the same thing.  A LOOOOOOOONG time.  The old one is going to be a picnic blanket.  Or a drop cloth for paint.

Rob and I spent a couple hours cleaning out the neighbors flowerbed on Saturday.  I needed to get away from the sewing machine.  We didn't clean out that bed last year.  I was a little upset that her grandson lives there...and I'm cutting stuff back in the flowerbed.  But, this year, I realized I took this bed on because the neighbor enjoys it and we enjoy it and it makes everyone smile.  But, honestly, after a full year of wild, drought tolerant growth, it looked rough when I got through with it.  I just have to keep in mind how nice it will look in spring. 

And, really, my own beds look almost as bad, all cut back and bare.  But, cleaned up and ready for spring. 

We had lunch with neighbors today.  It was so nice.  Just two couples, sitting and talking.  They are parents, too, so that gave us a LOT to talk about.  Rob and I are both enjoying getting out.  Joining in with people again.  We've always had a good life.  Now we have a better life.  Friends are important. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  Lane


Life's little surprises

I've been trying to figure out what to do next.  I'm making a bedspread.  I've spent a few days serging and ironing 8 yards of fabric.  I want long periods of time to work on it in a stretch before I move to the next steps.  And, I'm a little intimidated by the sheer volume of fabric.  So, I was looking for something to keep my hands busy. 

I've been thinking that I need to clear out some fabric and turn it into quilts...quilts get stored someplace else and the sewing studio needs space. 

I had this little collection of fabrics that Rob gave me when we got together.  It was just as he was learning about quilting and we were starting our quilting journey together...yes, my hubs is a big part of my quilting.  He is my color guy.  And, he has stopped me from making more mistakes than I can count by starting a sentence with "well, if I was a judge..."  And, he could be a judge.  He has a better eye than most quilters I know.  But he will NOT pick up a needle.  Oh, well.  I sew while he mows.  It all works out and my job is less sweaty.

Anyway, I reminded him of the fabrics and when he bought them.  Showed him a couple easy patterns at bedtime.  And, he said "double wedding ring" and my eyes went round and my mouth fell open in surprise.  I smiled and closed the book and focused on TV. 

But, I started thinking...long term plan...real long term...red background with neutral and tan rings.  We've had the night to think about it, and we both still like it.  So, that might be a future project for me.  A surprising twist on an old pattern. And, I'll use these fabrics for something easier. 

But, honestly, I shouldn't even be considering cutting fabric, unless that fabric is going to be a quilt back.  I need to quilt the tops I already have. 

This morning, I stacked those fabrics back up.  I'm not putting them away because I really would like to turn them into something.  But, I turned to a quilting project. 

Sorry about the shadow.  Anyway, I decided to start this.  Simple.  Easy.  Quick to quilt.  I had a strip of brown fabric 15x42.  The quilt is 20x20.  I opened the diagonal quilt backing calculator...and it said I needed two yards of backing fabric.  I was surprised. 

I'll be using something else.  I had something else planned already and forgot about it.  So, it all worked out in the end. 

Sydney has suddenly become very rational; holding these very adult conversations.  And, actually being pleasant.  Wat up wit dat?  Our breakfast conversations have totally changed.  And, I've stopped wondering how long I could lock her in her room.  Is this real progress?  Real change? 

I'm suspicious.  I can't help it.  But, I'm also not dumb enough to look this gift horse in the mouth.  I'll enjoy it, for no other reason than to show her what it could be like all the time. 

Y'all wish me luck this weekend with the bedspread.  I'm going to need enough patience to be able to walk away when the going gets tough.  Because that's when I do my best problem solving.  (I do not solve problems by continuing to grind through the same solution over and over again, trying to make it work...remember that Lane!  The old way just leaves more threads to pick out.)  Goal for the weekend is bedspread and start two pillow shams.  But, first, I have a big pile of crap that's built up on every surface.  And, I'm going to need every surface to accommodate 8 yards of fabric.  How did I do this in 2000 with that lousy plastic Singer machine that bounced the dining table if you made it go too fast and made a birdsnest of bobbin thread about every 2 feet.  When I made the old bedspread, I was "intrepid".  Had no concept that I might not succeed.  Now, I've tasted failure in large bedding.  And, I am intimidated.

Be well my friends.  I hope life throws you a few surprises. 

They're good for us!  Keep us on our toes.



In a sewing mood

I hope the new year has found you happy and peaceful.  We had a wonderful time.  Rob and I even stayed up til 11.  AND, we opened one of those 15 year old bottles of champagne that I've kept in the fridge, taking up valuable space.  Even it was good.  Syd got her first taste of champagne.  I don't think she liked it. 

I got really motivated to sew.  And, sew I did...and I'm not done yet. 

Remember I was going to cut out a shirt?

It's the nicest shirt I ever made.  I was just in the zone and things came out just right and I wrote down instructions for next time.  This pattern fits really well.  It's a tissue paper tracing, so I'm not sure if I made adjustments or not.  Sometimes I used to do that just to keep from cutting the pattern, which was all about not wanting to pick a size, so I traced the size I wanted, preserving the original.  Weird, huh?

And, I pulled out a sweater I had knit more than 9 years ago (don't know when, but Syd had never seen it) and I finished it.  All I had to do was put the sleeves in and add the buttons.  The placket was even already there.  It's made of that Sugar n Cream cotton yarn that you make dishcloths out of...for some reason, I considered cotton yarn hard to obtain...but it made a really nice sweater.  Not too heavy, not too light.  It still needs blocking.  And, if you look real close, you'll see that the only button I put in the right place was at the bottom hem.  Last night, after this picture was taken, I cut all the rest off and put them in the right places.  We are not going to talk about what I must have been thinking when I did that the first time. 

Last Thursday, I got the borders on the show quilt.  It doesn't have a name yet.  I'll have to think about that.  It's ready to baste and quilt.  It's 37" square, and if I remember correctly, there are five thousand pieces in it.  Half in the center star and the rest in what I built around it.  The center is Marsha McCloskey's Star Spangled Banner block, made in half size.  It includes the black set ins that make it a square.  Everything else is my own design, with inspiration from Sally Collins. 

And, if you remember, I made a little quilt for a friend (At the bottom of this post).  After that project started, I changed the color scheme, so I had all these sections left over, and some leftover squares.  I set them aside in the sewing room because I wanted to make something for me.  And, on Saturday, I did.  It took most of the day.  It's an original pattern and for me, that means lots of sewing and ripping out and putting together again.  I'm not real good at pre-planning.  I'm more of a make a mistake and take it apart and try again kind of guy.  In every aspect of my life.  Anyway, it ended up very nice and bright, which was a nice change after all the muted colors I'd been working with. 

Next project?  A bedspread as part of a bedroom refresh.  I made the bedspread and dust ruffle (I think that has a new name now) and upholstered the headboard in the bedroom when I moved into the house more than 15 years ago.  And, we need a refresh.  Not trying to change the color scheme, just add some new linens and some fresh fabrics.  And some paint.  But, that's all.  I promise.  Sort of.

Everybody have a great Monday!  It's a guild night.  The presenters are talking about red and white quilts.  I have a special interest in that.  See ya'!