Sailing, Sailing

Houston, we have a baby quilt top. This has been a fun baby quilt. But, if I were to do it again, I would do it differently. The corner blocks would be shaped different and the mariner's compasses would be set onto a blue instead of an offwhite. And, the clouds in the center would have been cut differently so they didn't all run up and down instead of side to side. But, babies don't notice things like that. Babies notice the yellow circles to point at and the boats and the water and the warm.

I'm going to quilt a continuous wave shape in the water and swirls in the skies. I want to do a continuous anchor shape in the sashing. Other than that, I depend on inspiration as I go to help me figure out what to do.
I hope to get it pin basted this week.
But, I woke in the wierdest mood this morning. Just can't get myself all lined up. I needed an extra day from work and that's not going to happen. Big project elevates tomorrow and my time will not be my own for over a month. The best I can hope for is to take care of myself aboard a boat that is careening out of my control. This is how I make money.
And, I just have to remember that's what this part is all about; making the money that lets me do all the other stuff that I want to do.
So, hang on, because I think I have plenty of distractions that will give me plenty to look forward to while I'm working away; the shirt sew along, the donation quilt project, Sydney's quilt, this baby quilt. That should be plenty to give my brain stuff to chew on while I'm out there doing what needs to be done.
But, boy, what would I give for a week off? I might have to reward myself with one in late March. Oh, that seems so far away.
Take care and have a great start to the week. Lane


Will he...or won't he

In reading about making garments, I started to read about steam presses. The more I read, the better it sounded. Then, I thought about that 100% cotton wardrobe I own. The one I don't wear anymore because it has to be ironed; and I take about a half hour per long sleeve shirt. Too long.

So, I found a used steam press with a money back guarantee at a really good price and I bought it Weds morning, really early and it beat me home on Friday. It was in a huge box. I put my shoe in to show how big.

With a trashbag full of popcorn.

And, a half mile of bubble wrap.

And, then I pulled out my little press.

Okay, I wasn't so impressed with the size, but I played with it and pressed a pocket square.

And, then I went online to find the instruction manual and read about all the things I'd done and there was an article on ironing a shirt with it and I tried that and it was everything that all the articles promised.

This morning, I pressed three more shirts for next week and Sydney pressed her fabric for her quilt and we've kept the press pretty busy and are all very happy with it.

Rob just walks by and shakes his head.

Last night, Sydney and I stayed up late and I worked on the ship quilt and She cut the blocks for her quilt. She's ready to start, so Saturday, I cleaned and straightened so there was room for two of us in the sewing room. I've set her up with the white featherweight that I rebuilt. I'll never be happy with the machine, but she'll never notice the things about it that I do. And, the fact that I paid more than I wanted to just leaves me sour on it.

And, after my chores were through, I pressed my linen for the shirt sew along. I picked a cheap cotton fabric for a muslin, but have just about talked myself out of it. I pulled out a bag of muslin pieces. A big bag. I'm going digging to see if I can find something else.

Darnit, I really like that dollar a yard fabric I picked up. I don't want to waste it.




Now, that's what I'm talking about. 70* and sunshine. It's good to be home.

Okay, funny sewing in the airport story. Sewed on the plane from MN to TX and nobody said a word or even looked twice. Got to Dallas and had lunch and went to the gate and sat down and started sewing and this guy...this REALLY HOT guy sits down across from me. He says "that must be hard by hand."

"Not so much, but I like to keep something for my hands to do."

"Get many stares and looks in public?"

"First time"

"I knit"

"Oh, do you. I knit too, but nowadays mostly i quilt."

"I have my knitting in my bag here"

And, he pulls it out. And, we chatted the hour away, him knitting and me sewing and talking across the aisle about our daughters and his wife and the girlfriend that taught him to knit and our first knitted sweaters and what disasters they were. As time passed, I noticed that while there were 50 or so chairs all around, only the dozen or so chairs closest to us were full. Most of the rest were empty. All kinds of people came and sat down beside us and talked to us about what we were doing.

When I got up to make my last trip before boarding...you know that trip...I shook his hand and introduced myself and we exchanged names and that was that.


Okay, the beast is home and I'm about to be hugged.




When I was a child, I spoke as a child and looked forward to snow days. But, now that I am a man, I'm smarter and know the value of living in a warm climate.

I was fine yesterday when I got here. Lugging that trench coat all day was kind of a pain, but I was sure glad I had it.

Then, I checked into the hotel and the room seemed colder than the outside. And, the darker it got, the colder it got. I had the thermostat set up to 82* before I realized that the side of the room with the windows was freezing and the other side was toasty warm. So, I turned down the thermo and moved my laptop to the other side of the room to finish working.

Last night, being the coldest night of our stay, we made plans to eat dinner here, at the hotel. But, the big guy in MN will only eat at chain restaurants so they called and said someone is on their way to pick you up. At this point, I had just gotten warm. I politely declined and, being a salesperson, he started to try to convince me...read that as twist my arm. So much so that I finally had to decline again and say "I'll see you tomorrow at the meeting." Gotta go. At this point, I'd already waited my dinner until almost bedtime waiting for everyone to get here, so I rushed down and had the best steak I've had in a while. Imagine. I could have passed on that to eat at Applebees. Yeah. Right.

This morning, my side of the room was still nice and comfy and the side with the windows is still forming icicles on the lampshade. The drapes just can't keep the cold out. But, if I sit on the bed and work, I'm comfy and cozy in my knitted slippers and work clothes. The dress shoes could use a little insulation, tho.

While I was down at breakfast, one of the guys that lives here came in to pick up someone else to take on a sales call. He was wearing a fleece jacket. No long coat. No insulation. No hat. A fleece similar to the one I'm wearing now, in my hotel room.

Here are the pictures outside my window. Traffic is moving very slowly, so I can only assume that what looks like wet roads are really ice. Glad I'm not driving in it.

Me? I'll stay right where I am, thank you very much. In my canvas pants, slippers, heavy t-shirt and shirt and fleece. Tonight, I will have to leave the hotel for dinner with the group. But, it is going to be 12 whole degrees warmer tonight than it was last night. Might not sound like much, but those degrees make all the difference.

You'll be glad to know that I did sew my hexes together on both flights. On the flight from Dallas to Minneapolis, I was in the middle of a bunch of cowboys. Real cowboys; hats, belt buckles the size of dinner plates, boots and tight jeans. Nobody even seemed to notice that I was sewing. Nobody looked around. Only one person mentioned it and that was a flight attendant that asked if I was making a quilt. She said that she had made one and it almost killed her. She said that twice. I guess she had a really bad experience. Poor thing.

Okay, so that's my travel update for the day. So far, so good. But, there's still a lot of day left.


What's the first thing you pack?

Wow, somebody up there really likes me. I can tell because they're forecasting a heatwave in Minneapolis this week. High temps above freezing. Night temps are 10* tomorrow night, but mid-twenties on Thursday. Still cold, but not frighteningly cold. We get that cold here...once in a while.

So, how do you pack for a short trip? That's today's question.

Here's how I prioritized my packing.

First thing I got ready was my activity bag, or in this case, it's my activity tupperware. I have all I'll need to assemble 6 sections for the border of my hex medallion quilt. That's hours and hours and hours of fun.

Next, I pack toiletries. "Never get caught without a toothbrush" is my motto.

Then, I pack snacks. This time, it's a walnut/almond-laden trail mix that I added chocolate covered blueberries to. Yum! And, a bag of dried dates. A bag with sugar, creamer, teabags and coffee packs (hotels never give enough). And, two candy bars. "As God is my witness, I'll never go hungry again."

Then, I assembled, but did not pack my warm weather gear; coat, scarf, gloves (I wish I had mittens), knitted wool cap, knitted warm slippers and hand made heavy socks, a fleece pullover. These all need to go on top where they'll be easy to grab.

Finally, I packed shoes and socks and clothes. Apparently, these are the least important things for me to take. Or, maybe they're the obvious choices, so I don't worry about forgetting them. Ei

And, I make a list so I'll remember my book and my laptop cord and my mouse and my aspirin and my moisturizing saline nasal spray and all the other stuff that needs to get there with me. That's the stuff I'll scramble for in the morning while I'm ticking things off on my mental list...because everybody needs at least two lists, right?

Every trip is an adventure. Sometimes I do a shop hop. Sometimes I plan an activity. This time, I'm going to try sewing on the plane. That doesn't sound like a big deal, right? Plug in my headphones with a book on mp3 and sew during the flight? No big deal for most of us, but a huge deal for me. And, because it's such a big deal to me, I've been thinking about why I don't do it. And, I'm brought back to all those kids that called me names in school and how important it was to me not to draw attention to myself. And, sewing on a plane is guaranteed to draw attention to me.

What would you think if you saw me sewing in an airport or on a plane? What would your husband think?

Take care and have a great day. Lane


Roll Roll Cotton Boll

Well, here it is. One really good pressing away from ready to quilt. I got the borders on and the corners last night and today.

Lots more going on. We went antiquing on Saturday. I'll post on that later, but I'll tease you with we had themes. Mine was sewing, Sydney's was animals and Rob's was movies.

Fun day together. We drove all around and had lunch at the Dixie Grill in Sequin, TX where we ran into the local Red Hat group and they served our drinks in half size plastic pitchers instead of glasses. We looked at the pitchers for a while, waiting for glasses before Sydney pointed out that everyone was drinking from the pitcher. Great food that was really bad for us.

After that, Sydney and I went to JoAnn's and I spent $29 and saved $27. The lady behind me in line offered to share her coupons when she saw me tearing out my three, but, there were only three regular priced items in the bunch. The lady that checked us out was surprised that I saved as much as I spent, but I do that a lot in there. I try to buy when things are on sale and don't run out. Sydney has asked to make a quilt with me next month. She's outgrown the one she made a couple of years ago and likes my Linus pattern, so while I make one for Linus next month, she's going to make one for her; our own little sew along.

Today, she had to rewrite part of an essay for school. Boy, she did not want to work on that. I finally had to resort to "either you can do it and be through and move on to something else, or we can fight and you can do it and be through and move on to something else. But in no way does this afternoon end without an essay." She did pretty good after that.

I'm looking forward to the Shirt Sew Along on Male Pattern Boldness. I think I have the last of my stuff all together, including replacing the interfacing I used last week in the coat. I need to do a better job of pressing in the hem on the coat. I went back to the book on that and need to steam it and then press it down with a wood clapper. Hmmm. New things all the time.

Just a little ironing and I'll be ready for my trip later in the week (I think I've said ironing about 4 times so far in this one post). Today, I was testing pants to see if they would block the wind. Canvas pants are a wonderful thing.

I also did chores and cooking and an hour of dishwashing and scrubbed the bathroom. I think there was a little energizer bunny in me. But, all is clean and the family will eat in my absence.

I guess that's all the news that's fit to print.

Take care and hope you had a wonderful weekend as well.


A day antiquing

We had a wonderful weekend. We got lots done and we had fun and there was a good bit of laughing.

None of us left the house on Saturday with anything in mind to buy. We were just out for some fun away from the house and a good lunch. When we got home, we found that we had each bought things that were related by theme.

This is Sydney's pile, with one thing left out (not sure how I pulled the wrong pic, but she'd be disappointed if she knew.) There's also a framed print of a jaguar (the predatory one, not the car). She's just coming out of the little girl thing of wolves and big cats. We're very glad to see her growing out of that. When she first came to us, it was all about large animals and books where they talked. It took a while to get her to try books with people, or animals that were more realistically portrayed as animals. But, if she walks up to a representation of one of these predators, she gravitates right for it. She also still collects beanie babies. Once she found out she could get them for a quarter or so, there's no stopping her collection. Just waiting for her to grow out of that one as well. She collects ceramic hummingbirds and this was a nice one to add to her collection...and I didn't even break the beak like I did the first one she bought. The little purple thing is a tree, covered with little bits of purple glass. Very asian and lovely. And, she loves costume jewelry, so there's a big old ring down there. She doesn't do dress up anymore, but she does love gaudy jewelry. On the left is a paperweight of a bear, cut out of some cool metals. So, Sydney's "loose" theme was nature.

Rob's theme was movies and pictures. Even the salt and pepper shakers he bought are very art deco and look like they just jumped off a table from the 30's. The train case is to store photographs in, where he can keep them convenient and contolled. The box in the back left was full of rolls of 8mm film from the 50's. Now, we need a projector to see what "Leo's return from Japan" and the "trip to the beach" are all about.

The two plates we found are from the Thin Man series of movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy and on the right is from The Philadelphia Story with Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart. These are two of our favorite movies and oddly, were the only two plates from the series they had and the only two we would have wanted from that series. Odd, hum?

He also got a copy of Pearl Buck's Dragon Seed, another favorite movie, even though the actors were not chinese and probably made it kind of socially insensitive, but the actors did play the parts well and in a time when there were few minority actors from any group allowed to portray positive characters, they did okay.

He's also started collecting cuff links and has asked me to put the extra button holes in some sleeves to let him wear them. He's pretty excited and I think it would be a nice fashion "extra" for the winter.

But, this is the one you're waiting for. My theme was sewing. In the back, there's a bar of Fels Naptha soap. I have not been able to find naptha soap, even though I've been looking, to help me clean some vintage linens. Well, I found a bar in an antique store and am going to use it.

There are also two cones of cotton thread that is not as vintage as buying it in an antique store would suggest. It's still good strong and heavy thread and didn't break easily when pulled. I plan to use it as quilting thread for my Linus projects...but how long will it take me to use 12,000 yards of thread??? She had a bunch more cones and I wish I'd bought them all, but I contented myself with these two for $3 a cone.

The box is a leather jewelry box. I'm always looking for small boxes to put sewing projects in. But, when I looked in my box for a pair of cuff links I gave to Rob last night, I realized that I need a new box for my "jewels", which is mostly watches with dead batteries and my high school ring.

In front of this box is a singer blind hemmer for a short shank, straight stitch machine. I've been looking at those on ebay and didn't buy one and found this one for $3. We'll see if it works as well as the button holer and better than the zig-zag foot. These old feet are cool in how they work, powered by the needle bar and I'm hoping I can adjust this one to let me do applique with my featherweight. I like to use the blind hem stitch with really tiny stitches and a very narrow bite. I don't think I can change the bite on this, so we'll see about the stitch length.

In the back is a wood point presser. These must be really hard to find. Peter suggested one for the shirt sew-along...if you could find one. I haven't seen one anywhere to buy, except this one, not even on ebay. It was on the back of the top shelf under a lot of dust at an antique store. The lady selling it had to ask me what it was for. It has a name written on it in ink...Peck. And, I'm thinking about writing my name on the other side. Five bucks. And, I walked around with it clutched to my chest like it was a holy shrine.

The rest is from dollar bags of sewing notions in one of the shops and includes embroidery hoops, a tracing wheel, elastic, buttons, gripper snaps, a spool of really bad lavendar poly that I'll use for basting, a white bobbin winding tire (hey, does anybody need a white one? All my machines are black and I'm glad to share this if you need it), some screwdrivers, a seam guage, an adjustable zipper foot and a short shank ruffler. I think I bought 4 bags and got all that. What a deal.

There are even two clips for treadle bobbins and I got 8 bobbins with them. These are valued at $9.99 minimum bid on ebay and I got them for $3 a clip. If the bobbins are the right length, and I think 6 of them are, this will turn out to be a real steal.

I tried to give the ruffler away on Sat night to a lady at JoAnn's. She wanted to use a half off coupon to buy one there and the coupon wouldn't work on feet, so she didn't buy it. I'd have given her this one, but Sydney and I were both watching her so we could talk to her and then she just disappeared while I was paying. I mean, into thin air. Good thing, too because when I looked at the ruffler closer, the bottom is bent. So, my good deed might not have been such a good deed after all.

Okay, so that was our little trip. We keep saying we're going to take the camera or the video recorder to share our day, but we never remember until we're too far away to turn around and get them. But, know that we had a bunch of fun and even though I saw a vintage Universal sewing machine I could have picked up for $35, I left it there. It was hard. But, what did I need another sewing machine for? So bright and shiny and black and beautiful with all her gold decals unmarred. And, I left her there. Good for me! I'm starting to think I need a 12 step program for machine collectors.

Take care and have a wonderful Monday! Lane

Hamming it up

One of the tools that every resource says I'll need to make shirts is a tailor's ham. Now, I could have bought a ham somewhere for about 10 bucks. But, I didn't. Because we all know that I'm an...


So,here's my ham, and my seam roll. I included the wood point presser that I found in an antique store this weekend. I should be all set for ironing (Peter, I hope you're reading this and will show me how to use this tool in the sewalong).

When I read about making a ham in the sewing book from the 60's, my first thought was "I have all that". It just took a piece of wool, a piece of heavy cotton and a bunch of wool scraps. Easy, peasy.

So, I drew out the pattern, just the way they said and I transferred it to the fabric, just the way they said.

And, I had an old wool blanket from my grandmother that was a holy mess when I inherited it
23 years ago. Believe me, this pic is lipstick on a pig because this was in bad shape. So, I decided to give it a new life as my ham. The book said wool was preferred over sawdust. Are the new ones filled with sawdust? Or was sawdust readily available for a housewife of the 60's?

I didn't expect to have trouble cutting the blanket up and cutting out the paint drips where it had once been used as a drop cloth. But, I did. After all, it was my grandmother's.
Anyway, the instructions said to sew around three sides and pack the ham with soaking wet wool and hang it to dry.

And, what I got was the size of a bed pillow and swallowed up my twin size blanket scraps and wanted much, much more. So, I unpacked it and resewed it about half the original size and packed it again. This time, it took just the scraps I thought it should. And, we packed for about an hour, stopping to stand on it and then pack it some more like the instructions said. And, then I hung it to dry. And, I worried that it would mold. So, the second day, I started ironing it. I ironed it about every 3-4 hours and clouds of steam would rise out of it. I'd let it cool and then iron out some more. And, while I ironed one side dry, the other side would get soaked from me pressing down, so I'd flip it and work the wet side til it was dry and flip it again. I did that as often as I could on Monday and again on Tuesday morning. And, now it's dry. So, it's been sewn up and now it's a picture for a quick post.

I also made the seam roll, but it didn't call for wet wool. Both these were easy to make and I've used the seam roll already and it is much more convenient than the rolled up towel I used to use.

Travel update. The Hudson Bay coat didn't make it. I wore it the other day and the sleeves are open as is the bottom of the coat and cold air just blew under it. I pulled out all my warm coats last night and we settled on the traditional looking dark green london fog. It has all the benefits of my other coats in one. And, the final test was folding the coats to put in the overhead. The london fog folds up flat and square.

The hudson bay folds to about 9 inches thick and doesn't compress.

Take care, everybody. I'm going to the office for a bit and then onward and upward.


The Hudson Bay coat

This is the first coat photoshot. I don't know who first called it the Hudson Bay coat but the name has stuck. Here's my review.

For me, the coat is kind of short. I wish it was about 3 inches longer so it would cover my "sit upon it" in the car. But, hey ho. the stripes match across the front. Unfortunately, I couldn't work it out for the sleeve stripes to match the rest, but oh well.

Fits good across the shoulders. Plenty of room for a fleece and a flannel and a shirt and an undershirt and whatever else I want to squeeze in under there.

Good in the shoulder. Smooth and round. I was actually talking to Rob, not being frightened by him when he took this pic.

And, it hangs well in the back, not baggy, but plenty of room. Folds in the right places.

The buttonholes are on for this weekend. Because they're already cut, I'm going to do them on the machine as satin stitching along the edges of the holes and then tacks across the top and bottom. Wish me luck. Fortunately, there is interfacing on both the collar and the collar facing and lining between them and that gives me lots of stability. And, the softest, yet sturdiest collar. I love it best. I can duck my head down in it to cover my ears and keep my scarf in tight.

That's my coat. Have a great day.

Post Script: I wrote this last night and this morning, I put in the buttonholes and buttons. I guess I woke with some extra confidence and just dove in. They came out good, although I found that the front and back holes were not in the same place on the finished collar and collar facing and I had to sew them closed on the facing. But, it's not too noticable of a patch and is on the inside of the coat. Of course, like everyone that creates, I am my worst critic. My biggest complaint about the coat would be that it is very bulky under the arms; a frequent complaint I have about coats. I made three terrycloth bathrobes out of the same pattern a long time ago and they were all bulky under the arms as well, so I guess it was something in the nature of the pattern and the fabrics I used.

I got lots of stares this morning, but I don't know whether they were thinking "nice coat" or "that man is wearing an old blanket."

Take care. Lane

Getting all ambitious

Okay, so the ultimate ambitious act for a beginning shirtmaker is to start collecting vintage patterns, right? I haven't even pressed the fabric for the men's shirt sew-along that starts next month and I'm already promising Rob a Hawaiian shirt from the pattern on the right. What if I don't like making shirts?

The pattern on the left, I just couldn't resist. First, look at how huge those collars are! Then, look at the blue shirt in the upper left corner; solid blue sleeves, back and collar, and a plaid front. I am fascinated. I might not be able to wear it out of the house, but I want it...with a more modern collar, that is. Anyway, I bought that pattern because of the write up on it. It belonged to the seller's Grandma and she used it to make shirts for Grandpa. Who could resist! Okay, the millions of people that didn't buy the pattern clearly resisted. But I could not. It's used and fragile, but I can copy it onto new paper if I like the pattern.

Coat update. So, why did I have to make a coat now? I've realized that I'm about to learn to sew garments. And, if I wait, there's no way that I will be able to remake something I originally made with so little skill (pre-quilting). If I was ever going to remake it, I had to do it before I learned anything more. If you're having trouble understanding that, and you're a quilter, just think back to that UFO that's been in the box for several years. The one you started before you really knew how to quilt and now, when you look at it, you wonder if it is worth finishing. That's the story of why I had to remake the coat now or never.

Where am I? Well, everything is finished except the bottom hem and the buttonholes. I'm putting the bottom hem in for the THIRD TIME! First, it was puckers where my stitches came through the shell of the coat. Rip. Then, I got it all finished and realized that I didn't like how the stripes lined up. Rip. But, this time, I'm pretty sure I'll be happy and finished. Then the buttonholes. Still can't decide whether to machine them or try to hand finish them. Each day I change my mind.

I planned to wear this coat in Minneapolis next week, but now, we're discussing whether it will be warm enough for temps between 9* and 19*. What do you guys that live up north think. It's a wool blanket, lined with a medium weight denim. It comes down to my hips, but does not cover my legs at all and will not be long enough to sit on when I sit in a car. Now, I've made arrangements (stop laughing) to get on a shuttle in the airport basement and ride that shuttle to the hotel, where I intend to stay until it is time to get back on the shuttle and go back to the airport basement. If you're still laughing, then I invite you to come visit here in late August and we'll talk about why we go from the air conditioned house to the air conditioned car to the air conditioned office, spending as little time outside in the 113* heat as possible. We can also talk about why we don't wear polyester (because it doesn't wick away the sweat). My alternative is a long canvas duster with a fleece underlining that seems a bit like overkill to me...but what do I know about cold.

Jotham asked yesterday about Britches for Boys and whether there is a pattern. There is a pattern here. I made it and showed it here. I wasn't much on it. They're okay, but remind me of an older boy and workout clothes. Probably wouldn't make any difference to a boy who has no pants, right? But, I want to use a very small boxer shorts pattern, extend the length a couple of inches, and eliminate the fly so I can just whip them out on the serger (crotch seam and then leg seams) and then add a waistband and a buttonhole and a drawstring. I want to make them out of denim, so they're a bit tougher than the t-shirt fabric. But, I haven't done that yet.

Okay, that's it for today. We have a lot going on and all I want to do is sit down and do nothing. Reminds me of my Grandpa's mule. No reason why. I just don't want to do anything. Well, except sew. I'm within spitting distance of finishing the RRCB quilt top and just haven't done it. Muleheaded.

But, Papaw had a way of making that mule get up. Just not sure I want anybody smacking my rump with a 2x4.

Take care.



The Giving Challenge

A couple of weeks ago, I tentatively introduced the idea of a challenge and a few people said they'd be interested. It's taken me a while to learn what I need to know to administer such a challenge, but I think I have most of it figured out.

Here's the challenge: Make one gift per month in 2011 to donate to a charity. That's it.

My part of the challenge is that I'm going to make a quilt to donate to Project Linus each month. I also want to make some "britches for boys" to support Little Dresses for Africa.

I did this challenge two years ago and made it all through the year. I made children's quilts for Project Linus and also made quilts for them to sell at a craft fair. I'd say that items made to raise funds or items made and donated for distribution to those in need would both meet the challenge.

I created a photobucket site for us to post photos of the items we make. The name is Quiltfool Giving Challenge. My January Linus quilt is out there, as are pictures of a prayer shawl made by Hazel at Sew Crazy.

To post a picture, you have to be invited. To send you an invitation, I need an email address. So, if your email is linked to your profile and you leave a comment that says you'd like to join, I'll send you an invitation. If not, then please click my profile and send me an email with your email address and I'll send the invite.

If you post a picture, it requires my approval. You know how people that would post inappropriate pictures love to shock, so the approval is to keep them away. I get an email and will approve your photo within 24 hours...usually at the end of the work day.

If you've never done a long term challenge before, then there are a few things you should think about. First, if you can't make an item every month, don't let that keep you from participating. Everyone has different amounts of time they can commit and anyone that commits any time can take part and post your photos.

There's no fancy button for this challenge. If anyone wants to create one, that would be great, but for me to create one, I'd have to learn how and I'd rather spend that time on my next Linus quilt. But, I would ask you to help spread the word. You can't start too late, so even if someone wants to join mid-year or later, encourage them.

And, remember, these quilts are donations. Unless you're making something for a fundraiser, most donations are about giving a quality item that's simple and quick. Something you'd give to any kid you know for them to love to death. If you try to donate 12 hand quilted double wedding ring quilts, you're going to burn out before the snow melts, so keep in mind that you need to pace yourself. A year is a long time and 12 donatable items is a lot to make.

I'll talk more about Project Linus later, but I wanted to share some things I learned while I was attending their monthly meetings. They accept quilts, afghans and fleece blankets which are given to groups that often encounter children that have lost everything as well as children on extended hospital stays. In Austin, police officers can request blankets to keep in the car to hand out when they see a need. Fire officials can do the same, as well as social workers and crisis counselors.

I can't think of a better way to comfort a child who lost everything in a fire, or a child who has just lost a parent, than a quilt. Just something to have of their own. To cuddle up under and stay warm. Or maybe something to wipe away some tears. I like being part of that and hope you will, too.

So, let's spread the word and see how many items we can donate in 2011!

Thanks and take care.



Riding the Roller Coaster

Do you ride your own personal emotional rollercoaster?

The therapist said be aware of what goes on before I get so angry I start to shout, because I rarely shout about what's really bothering me. So, I have been aware. Last night, I wanted to shout but didn't. Is that because I was aware of what was going on? Does it mean things are changing for the better for me?

It started on Thursday. It was some kind of a creative manic cycle. coat, Coat, COAT. quilt, Quilt, QUILT. Obsess.

On Friday, Rob asked, "what do you have planned to do this weekend?" and I answered, "Sew". Simple. I had no idea how many hours I would end up sewing. I had no idea how much I would resent having to stop sewing and being creative to eat. Or, to sleep. Or, even to come to work on Friday.

I was creative. It was fun as heck. And, the things I made were beautifully creative. And, I didn't get upset about having to correct my mistakes because I was being creative. I expected to make mistakes. I just pulled them out and redid it. That's unusual for me, who usually gets all anxious about having to redo work and end up angry at myself about it. But, not this weekend.

I was also obsessive and I was withdrawn from family and everything else that was happening in the world. Coat. Quilt. Sew.

Yesterday came the anxiety. I had to get leave the sewing room and rest so I could get up and come to work yesterday. I did it, but spent the whole day on edge. Frustrated with even the simplest things that didn't go just right.

And, last night came the passive aggression. Don't laugh. I took everything that my family had left laying around in the kitchen that was in my way or in my line of sight and I put it at their place on the dining table. So, they couldn't eat until they did something with it. Fortunately, I moved Rob's pile, just before he came to table. I don't think that would have gone over very well.

But, I didn't yell. I stomped a bit and I humphed a bit, but I didn't blow the house down.

And, this morning, I got up and it was all over and I was fine again. No real damage done. This time. And, I got to observe what it's like to be me without doing anything I needed to be ashamed of.

First thing I did was let Rob know that I knew that I'd been acting wierd. Somehow, I think it helps them to know that I know and that I'm working on it and that I'm following the therapists instructions to be aware and observant. And, to try to understand why.

Here's what I think. We're rolling out that big product change from end of last year in another state. I'm the marketing lead again. That was a tremendous amount of work and stress and put my real life on hold. I don't like when my real life is on hold and I needed more time to rest before we start that again.

I'm traveling next week. I don't like to put my life in the hands of the travel industry. They do good work, most of the time, but when things go wrong, people spend hours on the tarmac without access to a bathroom. And, you can be arrested if you smart off to anyone. And, sometimes I smart off when I'm upset.

It's time to do stuff around the house. New carpet. Paint. Other repairs. But, I'd rather sew. And, I'd rather sit on that money that's in savings to do those repairs.

My Dad had a bit of surgery and he's so far away and it's hard to stay in contact.

I have so much I want to do and not enough time to do it all. When that happens, I tend to start something new and not worry about any of it.

Understanding is one step closer to a real behavioral change.

So, why tell you about all this? Because I know that I'm not the only one riding this roller coaster. Life is good, but everybody gets down. Everybody feels overwhelmed. But, we don't talk about it. We keep our personal stuff off the internet. And, that's good for most things. But sometimes, it helps to know we're not alone. I know that as I watched myself this weekend, I thought about not being the only person feeling overwhelmed. Doesn't matter whether it's because of a fear of flying or because we're afraid we're ruining our children's lives or because the house is being repossessed. Overwhelmed is overwhelmed. And, "not alone" is very strong.

OCD, ADHD, and manic/depressive behavior. It's the trifecta of feeling self defeated. All I need now is a second personality and I'll have the whole set, including somebody to argue with.

Take care and have a great day. Enjoy feeling good if you do. Enjoy looking forward to feeling good if you don't.

I'm back to feeling it.



Out of touch...

It was a rainy weekend here and for some reason, our phones have started to short out in the rain. The first time was an anomaly, but the second time makes this a trend that needs to be corrected. Of course, we found out that we no longer have one of those old fashioned wired phones that you plug in, so I couldn't test whether the problem is inside the house or outside on their part of the line. So, we were effectively cut off. The most reliable way to reach us for at least part of the weekend would have been by postal mail. Email was intermittent, internet available, so long as we didn't try to send or upload anything. Cell phones were up and down.

We'd may as well have relied on smoke signals.

More later about my OCD, but I did manage to finish this little quilt. This is my January Linus quilt. And, it is also the promised easiest patchwork pattern in the world and goes together so nicely for a charitable donation. I'd estimate that it took me 3-4 hours to cut and piece and another 3-4 hours to quilt. An hour to pinbaste and another hour to bind (cheater binding that I'll talk about later. If you're interested, I can share all the little secrets that make this easier.

This quilt was pieced last year and is based off of 8" blocks. The block can be from one piece of fabric or it can be from 2 bricks or 4 small squares or 1 brick and 2 small squares, but all finish at 8". So, the bricks are 4 1/2 x 8 1/2" and the small squares are 4 1/2"

This year, I decided to change the size to a 9" finished block because I have a lot of nickel squares (5"), which is a standard size for me to cut from my scraps. I have a couple of other patterns planned that will use up nickel squares, but this is my basic one. I like it because I can knock out a donation quilt in a weekend.

I usually pick a focus fabric, in this case the tropical bird fabric and then I pick things to go with it. There's a blue plaid shirt in there and some scraps cut from an old set of cotton curtains and the back was a donation to my Linus efforts from my mentor. This is the first time I've made one of these without a border and it worked out fine. It would have been easier if I hadn't tried to skip a step. I didn't quilt all the way around the edge before I started the free motion work. That would have given me some stability that I needed. There was no ditch work on this and I needed it when it was time to quilt around the edges, which kept trying to sneak back under the quilt and were quite frustrating.

The binding is just the backing, cut down to an inch larger than the top and pressed at a half inch and then folded over the top and sewn down. Easy, peasy.

Because it is all squares, it's easy to change the size to accomodate a wheelchair lap quilt, which would need to be smaller. I go for a large size as Linus doesn't get many boy quilts. They get lots of little kid quilts and a lot of girl quilts, but boys are left to fleece blankets, so I try to focus my work on them. The focus fabric for the February quilt is bass fish schooling underwater. There's lots of blues and greens in that one. And, then a flowery girl quilt because I have a piece of fabric that needs to find a way into a Linus and it is definitely not boyish.

On the coat front, here's where I am so far. I spent more hours than I intended putting in pockets, but what I ended up with is very nice, if a bit brighter than I was hoping for. The collar facing is basted in and this morning, I started hand stitching it down. All that's left is the hems, including the sleeves. And, the hand finished buttonholes. I'm not giving up hope on machine buttonholes, yet. But, I'm pretty sure they're going to have to be by hand. With a very heavy thread.

And, then there will be hours and hours of fun picking out threads from the first rendition. I haven't been very good at picking them out because I was never sure this was going to work out. Now that it is, I find that I have hours of tweezer work ahead of me.

Okay, that's it. I think I sewed about 32 hours over the 48 hour weekend. I don't quite know why I get so wierd, but we have a lot coming up and I just sometimes feel overwhelmed and hide away in the sewing room; coming out only for meals. And, bathroom breaks.

Take care.



I couldn't sleep

I woke up really early and after tossing and turning for seven and one half minutes, decided I was never getting back to sleep, so I might as well go sew.

Don't laugh. If you haven't done it yet, you will.

This is certainly a different coat than it was the first time. I got it this far. The sleeves and are still open. After sleeping on it last night...what time I slept, I completely changed my plan this morning. Hmmm.

Rob saw it a bit ago, but he's holding his cards really close to his chest. It makes me feel a bit like I'm seeing something that isn't there, because I'm seeing something wonderful.

Okay, so now, I'm off to pin baste a Linus quilt. I think I have about everything set up for my challenge. I'll try to update on that tomorrow.
Take care. Lane


Nothing to lose but an old coat

This is a story about a coat that had nothing to lose.

Many years ago, before I learned to bargain shop and barter and inspect the goods I was buying, I bought a wool blanket. It was a beautiful Hudson Bay labeled blanket. I fell in love. The lady showed it to me and talked about how wonderful it was and I paid a hefty sum for it. I never noticed that she only unfolded it half way.

I took it home and completely unfolded it. It was moth eaten all along one main fold line and the bottom hem was torn, there were tiny holes along the other fold lines. And, it was excessively, violently dusty. I was quite upset.

I did what I could to make it usable, but that wasn't much and, consequently, it didn't get used much. And, I didn't know how to launder it and my attempts to hand wash it were not very successful, so over the years, it gathered even more dust. But, the fold of the good side made a beautiful addition to my linen closet. (these were my Martha Stewart days, after all.)

Let's say 8-10 years pass, during which it moves from storage place to storage place and gets dustier and sadder and more useless. And, I start to quilt. So, no need for itchy wool blankets anymore, anyway.

One day I was inspired. I pulled out a pattern for a bathrobe and used it to cut the blanket into a coat, cutting it to eliminate all the moth holes and the ripped hem. Then, I handwashed the coat (why didn't I wash the blanket??? I cannot remember. But Rob and I both remember suffering while I sewed away, like Linus in a cloud of dust.) I hung it to dry and then added a slick, silky polyester lining. Hmmm. A beautiful idea and it ended up being a beautiful coat...as long as you didn't get too close. Up close, it was a disaster. It wasn't big enough in the back, the topstitching was wavy. The button holes were a mess. And, it was still dusty.

Eight years pass and I see a blogger I follow make a wool coat (Thank you, Peter). And, I am inspired. I think about it and think about it. I remember that there are 4 inches of extra fabric in the back of that coat in some huge french seams. That's why it was not wide enough when finished. And, I have a better machine and have learned to sew straight lines and I can make a buttonhole.

Last night, I took it completely apart and I picked a new lining of a soft neutral denim with a little give to it. Of course, the original pattern is lost, so I ironed all those existing dusty pieces and used them to cut the lining fabric out. Then, I washed the wool and hung it to dry and ironed the heck out of it. Finally, no longer dusty.

I basted the lining together to use as a muslin. First alteration, fix the sleeve length. I had 4 inches of wool tucked up in the old sleeves. It made a pretty sleeve because you could never see the lining. But, I think I might be able to do that with just 2 inches folded up for a hem. Then, I have to decide if I'm going to try to change the collar. I like the rolled collar on this coat, but it hung funny with a twist above the top button. It doesn't hang funny on the muslin, so not sure what I'll do with that. It will have three buttons down the front and the botton holes will have to be hand sewn as the holes are already cut. I'll add a scrap of wool to each, between the outside and the lining, to make sure I get a pretty edge. Next, I'll need to adjust the length to fit the shortest piece, which is probably the back, where I had sewn two pieces together...badly, and turned the bad looking seam to the inside. Next time, I'll redo that seam and make it the hemline, which should work nicely. I definitely want the coat to come down to cover my behind, and I think there's plenty of length for that.

Then, when I'm happy, I can take the muslin apart to use as my final pattern. I tried it on this morning and it fits in the shoulders, with plenty to spare. A bit loose in the waist, but I might tailor it down a bit more in the side seams to get rid of that. And, I plan to add pockets. There's no wool blanket left, so the pockets will have to be invisible and set into the side seams. I'll try that on the muslin and see how it works out.
In short, I'm pretty happy for somebody that's working without a pattern. And, since it wasn't wearable before I took it apart, I really have nothing to lose if it doesn't go back together again except maybe a remnant of denim.
Wish me luck. As I run into a problem, I pull out my book to see how to solve it. If it works out, this might be the coat I wear to Minneapolis in a couple of weeks. It sure promises to be the warmest thing I own if goes back together. And, if I'm not too ashamed to wear it.


Building border sections and a well planned day

These are the border sections for the RRCB quilt. Like Bonnie said, sew two-sies then four-sies and watch them grow. And, they grow fast. The two shorter borders are finished and I'm working on the two longer. I have this funny feeling that I'm going to get an argument from a girl that, because of all the pink in this quilt, it should go to her. And, I get that. And, it might. But not until one of two things happens. Either it warms up, or I get another lap sized cuddle quilt.

I don't mind giving Sydney a quilt at all because she has proven that she both loves them and uses them. We made her a lap quilt a couple of years ago and she uses it all the time...even when I'm in shorts and fanning myself.

Now, about my well planned day. I got the letter that I had to go in to the DMV to renew my license this time. Grrrr. Everyone knows that DMV is synonymous with WAIT! But, I don't wait well. So, I decided to start early in case I had to go back more than once. I picked a day when it was freezing and cloudy, hoping most people would stay home. It wasn't a Friday. I didn't go first thing in the morning, so missed the before-work rush. I didn't go at the traditional paydays. There was nothing to bring people to the DMV at all, unless they had procrastinated until the last minute and had to be there. That day was yesterday.

My planning paid off. It took 13 minutes from the time I got out of my car until I got back into my car. The chair I sat down in didn't even get warm. Whoohoo!!!

In fact, the only thing I forgot to do was bathe all my exposed skin in antibacterial hand sanitizer when I left. Crap! By the time I went to bed last night, I had a sore throat. When I got up this morning, I have sick head. You know what I mean. That wierd lightheadedness that usually preceeds a fever.

I agree. That's just too soon to start showing symptoms, right? So, I'm hoping it is just allergies. Hoping. Hoping. Hoping. I rarely get sick. But, then again, I rarely go places where I'm exposed to lots of people. And, when I do go there, I sanitize myself. It's paid off. Oh, and I'm a hand washer, too. You might have heard me humming happy birthday at a sink while briskly rubbing my soapy hands together. I try not to hum out loud, but sometimes I catch some guy looking at me out of the corner of his eye at a men's room basin and wonder if he heard "happy birthday, dear Lanie..."

I'm loading up on vitamin C and sipping hot peppermint tea with honey and a clementine squeezed into it. I have on two layers of warm clothing.

And, no. I am not a hypochondriac. Nah!

Take care and use your sanitizer. That's what it's there for.



Is TV like life, or life like TV?

Do you follow the TV series Brothers and Sisters? We've followed for some time. Sometimes, the bickering and nonsense gets a bit...annoying and I just want to yell at them..."you're rich! You grew up rich. You've had every advantage. You have perfect teeth and perfect hair and you never wear the same thing twice. Pull up your big girl panties and act like grownups ya' bunch of babies." But, other times I can be brought to tears by what I see as normal loving behavior between people that obviously care about one another...well, their characters care about one another. I don't know anything about them in real life.

Anyway, you're wondering why I would bring up a non-vintage TV show on Way Back Wednesday. Well, they have a current plot line that is really hitting home for me. I mean, really hitting home.

The gay couple (married...just sayin'. Two guys are portrayed as married and society has not fallen. Eat that Glen Beck.) is looking at adopting a 9 year old girl. Our daughter was 9 when she came to live with us.
-The girl on TV has been caught stealing. Our girl got caught stealing, not from us, but caught.
-It's clear that the girl is trying to mess things up because she's afraid of being happy because happy never lasts. Our girl clearly tried to mess things up so we'd send her back to her Mom, like everyone else had, because happy never lasts.
-Michael and Scotty don't know how to handle this and question whether they are qualified to parent this child. We didn't know what to do and for a while we both thought of sending her back to her Mom, fortunately never at the same time.

The difference is that we didn't have Michael and Scotty's demeanor. We didn't have writers picking just the perfect words for us to say in a perfectly understanding tone of voice with wonderful and soothing music playing in the background. We didn't know that everything would work out one way or the other. We weren't living life out of sequence to meet shooting deadlines, so we didn't know the future. We were winging it.

And, we made mistakes. And, we stumbled and we failed and we tried again and we did things we try not to talk about anymore, even to one another.

And, we got better.

Last night, we were faced with a tough parenting situation. There was a lot of emotion on everyone's part. But, none of the emotions was inappropriately expressed. We said what we had to say. We pointed out the lessons that should have been learned by now. We pointed out how we've changed, so "I can't help it" an excuse clearly planted by a therapist some years ago, is not an excuse. We executed consequences; strong consequences for a 13 year old girl; that were appropriate to the offense. We talked. We said what we had to say. We moved on. We said "I love you" when we hugged goodnight.

And, when she got up this morning, I saw responsibility in her. She wasn't mad at us or plotting our demise or thinking how she could get around us. Okay, for the skeptics, maybe she was pretending. Or, as I prefer to call it, practicing. My theory is that if she practices enough, then it will become real, so either way, it was good.

I remember the day that I knew that shouting and intimidation weren't going to work. It's taken a lot of practice, but I think we've found something better. Something that IS going to work.

And, we didn't even need a script writer.

I hope they continue to develop this plot line. And, I hope they stay true to life. Gay, straight, green or purple, I believe that every family that takes in an older child goes through some version of this growing pain. It happens on top of all the other hormonal growing up. And, because crazily assembled families are becoming more common, people need to see what goes on in those families to know what they might be getting in to. Cuz I gotta say that we've had friends look at us like we're crazy and overreacting to everything, just because they didn't understand what our every day was like. People need to see it in the safe environment of the living room TV so they'll understand.

And, I'm happy to say that we've stepped up to the plate. Bring on your worst, kid. Eek!!!!! I did not just say that! I take it back. Do what you will, kid. We're becoming a stronger family every day. And, I trust that you like it enough that "what you will" won't be too bad.

Unless "what you will" involves purple hair dye. I gotta draw the hair line somewhere. (not what she did yesterday, but a question that keeps coming up.) Maybe in a couple years. Maybe.

Take care. Lane


twelve squared


That's how many followers I have. I noticed today. I've been watching the number climb and getting excited to see it grow. I think part of that has been because of my varied interests and I think part of it is because when I'm on my game, I'm interesting (and when I'm not, I bore even myself). But, you've stuck with me through those long and boring times and lately, I think I've sent a couple of interesting tidbits out into the blogsphere.

There's the post on indifference, which was very popular and drew both comments and private emails. I was surprised how many people are, like me, trying to find another way to deal with pain and was pleased that some found out they were not alone. Of course, there's no way to link up those that thought they were alone so they can know they are not, unless somebody speaks up. And, I was glad I did.

And, there was the ship pattern that so many thought I should publish. If only I knew how (he says wistfully.) But, before I can think about that, I have to finish the darn quilt. And my inability to focus on one thing for too long at a stretch means that might take a while.

I hope I've inspired someone to sew for Project Linus or to another charitable organization (Britches for Boys...I'm just sayin'. That was some easy sewin'). If I were to challenge quilters to make a project a month, and if I shared the easiest scrap quilt pattern in the whole wide world, would anybody accept the challenge? And, if I gave a place to share pics, and you accepted the challenge, would you show us your projects there? My weekend is going to be devoted to finishing a Linus quilt that is already pieced (so you'll get to see the easiest scrap pattern in the world next week).

I know some of you found me from Bonnie Hunter's blog. Luv me some Bonnie work. Sorry that my RRCB got stalled. I let myself get one step behind and now I can't seem to get caught up. I did get the last blocks attached this morning and now I can proceed with the pieced border. I'm looking forward to getting this one finished and quilted as I need a new cuddle lap quilt. My old one has been drafted into service to protect the sofa from the pets.

Some of you found me through Peter's blog. Peter is a sewing inspiration to me. I don't want to quit quilting, but I would like to expand my horizons so I can further justify owning so many sewing machines ;-). Maybe, if I get really courageous, I'll show you pics of the coat I made about 8 years ago out of an old, striped, wool blanket. I would very much like to take that apart and try again. I can do better. I've learned a lot in the past 8 years about sewing and even more in the last 4 months about garment construction. If you laughed at my 60's era sewing book that I was reading, you might be surprised to know that I learned a LOT about making clothing from the parts of it that I was interested in and now I'm reading one from the 80's that is also packed with information. I skip a lot. I don't need to know how to line an A line skirt. But I'm reading about patterns and interfacing and fabrics and tailoring from them (and poor Jane Austen languishes on the bedside, waiting for me to get back to fiction). The 60's era book also told me how to make a tailor's ham and I'm going to give it a try. Hey, what the heck. Worst that can happen is it molds (the wool is supposed to be wet when the ham is packed) and I throw it away, but since I'm making it from things that are scrap and junk I've held onto like it was the grail, I've nothing to lose. I'll post pics of how that goes starting over the weekend.

Some of you have been with me through two blogs, one of which was lost to the blog-o-sphere (probably for the best). You've seen me grieve and rage and depress (not correct grammar, but hey). You've encouraged me and given me great advice through some really difficult parenting. And, you still keep coming back.

To all twelve squared of you, Thank YOU. I watched Julie and Julia this morning and I have a new appreciation for how blogging has changed me. I think it's made me a better person and I hope you've found something here you like.

And, I'd like to give a big Thanks to my man. Rob, you've put up with my obsessive sewing when you'd rather I was doing something else and you've learned about quilting so that you could be part of my hobby rather than...well, because you've been so great, I don't know what the "rather than" would be. Thanks for being part of my life, hobbies and all.

So, with my traditional ending; Take care. By that, I mean Take care of yourself, take care of your loved ones and take care of your life.

My favorite movie line..."It's like she had a life, but she didn't feed it and it wandered away."



Winter harvest

This is my pitiful winter citrus harvest. Last year, we had lemons coming out our ears, but this year, I didn't get them out fast enough and the bugs couldn't pollinate and we got these three fruits. But, they're big as a fist. The coin is an american quarter that is about .75" in diameter. The one in the lower left is actually an orange. The orange tree makes a very sweet and tart fruit and the lemons are sweet and juicy. I feel a bunch of cups of tea in my future.

I'm still working on RRCB. After I got the center together, I decided I needed more blocks, so I'm working on them now and have one short side of the border put together. It will have 12 churn dash blocks instead of the 9 I planned for and will be long enough for me to cuddle up under nicely.

I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping and am not sure why. I sleep well, until 3-ish and then fitfully the rest of the night. Last night, I knew I was dozing because I could hear myself snoring, but I wasn't awake enough to try to stop. It was a wierd dreamlike state, but better than awake and tossing. I hope I stop waking soon. I'm needing all the sleep I can get and if I get up, Rob wakes up, so I try to lay there as long as I can, but eventually, boredom will send me to the sewing room, even if its just to read for a half hour and then try sleeping again.

Hope everyone is sleeping well, taking care and staying warm. It's quite nippy here in Texas and we're pulling out our coats.



First pair

Okay, so they are not perfect, but they're not bad. I had a lot of firsts.
How easy are they? Time spent sewing; 40 minutes tops. Time spent re-threading the serger and trying the singer straight stitch zig zagger (didn't work out) and setting up the buttonholer on the featherweight (love this tool) and making black thread bobbins and learning that straight stitch doesnt' stretch; 3 hours.

But, I bet I could make the next pair in 40 minutes. Unfortunately, real life intervenes.

I'm off to cook.


All ready for the shirt sew along and more.

My pattern came in yesterday and I could hardly wait to get ready for the shirt sew-along, although now I have three weeks to wait.

We went to JoAnn's and I found a wonderful rust colored blended linen and picked up thread and buttons. All set. After it was cut, I saw the red check shirting for $2/yard and grabbed that, too. My first shirt will probably be made from that. The linen blend was on sale and not that expensive either, so either way, even if I don't like the result, I haven't lost much.

They had all their red tag wall on half price and I picked up these. I never feel guilty about buying neutrals, and I just had to have a piece of that blue. I can see that being borders on a small quilt. I wish I had bought more. But, alas.

I'm off to finish a pair of britches for boys. I've seen the folks that are doing this twice on the news in the last few weeks. And, each time I have...well, let's say I've been moved to the point of tissue. Anyway, the first time, I thought "I can do that." and that's all I did. But Hazel over at Sew Crazy made a pair and today, I pulled all the t shirts out of the goodwill box and I cut one out. Still need to sew it together, but that means changing thread on the serger...blech!!!

I have 4 different threads on it right now so I could set the tension and now I'll have to commit to one color because I don't see making boys pants with pink, black, red and white thread. Not that the boys would care, but I would. You know what I'm sayin'.

Hope you are having a wonderful Sunday. Get off the 'puter and go sew something!



Can you feel the magic?

I can't really believe this quilt is coming together so well. Just a little idea that I had and look what it has turned into.

Okay, now off to do some piecing for me! Whoohee!

Then, it's our last pretty day before a big freeze and I want to clean up the back yard, cut back the already dead stuff and the stuff that won't survive the week and do the same in the neighbor's bed that we take care of.

And, then I can sew some more.



Okay, that might be enough coffee for the morning. I fear I might actually say whoohee and scare somebody. They're not used to excitement this early in the morning.


Polyester thread

Am I the only one that hates polyester thread? I hear so many people recommend it. Maybe it's just because I pick out so many stitches. I would much rather use cotton. Cotton thread slides so smoothly through cotton fabric that picking out stitches is relatively easy...not that I ever enjoy it...but at least it's easier than all the dragging and snaring and curling and knotting and breaking that I experience when I pick out poly thread.

When I started on the RRCB quilt, I pulled all my neutral, partially used thread spools to use in the string blocks. I didn't think about those being spools of polyester and I didn't do any picking out on those blocks...hard to make a mistake unless I didn't like two fabrics together and I gave myself permission to just get over that.

Anyway, now I'm back working on the ships baby quilt and this morning, I made a mistake on some sails and had to pull some stitches. It took twice as long to get that poly thread out as it would cotton.

I thought about that a while as I grumbled and then I found a way to both use the poly leftovers and get the ease of cotton and I loaded a bobbin with cotton and used the poly on top. Next time I had to pick out stitches, the cotton slid out easily and I was much happier.

I suppose that I should probably work on making less mistakes instead of finding tools to make mistakes easier to correct. But, hey, that would mean lots more planning and I kinda like flying by the seat of my pants and taking chances, and that comes with a risk...the risk of picking out stitches. And, that explains why I own something like 20 seam rippers in about 4 different styles and they are spread out everywhere in my sewing room; every box with a needle in it has a seam ripper.

Just a few more ships and I'll be able to show you my progress on the baby quilt. It's sailing along now (I just crack myself up). I figured out the corner blocks and I've tentatively decided to quilt continuous ship's anchors in the sashing. Wind and water will be easy to quilt into the blocks.

But, with inspiration comes distraction. Now, I'm ready to start shopping for shirt fabric for the shirt sew-along. And, Bonnie released the last step of the RRCB mystery. And, there's a Linus quilt all cut and sitting on the floor (staring at me...what is it with staring that makes me feel guilty?) and another that needs me to buy batting before I quilt it. And, I want to make some "britches for boys" to go along with "little dresses for girls" to send to children in Africa (thanks Hazel!). I have tons and tons and tons of denim, and am going to try to adapt the pattern from the website so I can use some of it up. Or, maybe I'll stick with making them out of some of the excess (and excessive) t-shirts around our house like the pattern calls for.

So many ambitions. So little time.

But, hey, who needs sleep anyway. Sleep is way overrated.




Like a little boy

I should be offering myself up for vintage thingies thursday, as I am definitely a pre-1970's model. But, the tree guy came today and despite my best efforts to focus on working from home, I could not help running to the window periodically to wathc the man on the high wire working without a net. Poor Tim. If I ever figure out how cheap it would be to buy a really long extension ladder and tie myself to a big branch like he does, I won't have to call him. But, until I do that (and get over my fear of heights) his work is safe.

When I was a teenager, I commissioned a hand made shirt from a friend in these two fabrics. If I'm not mistaken, the one on the left was the body of the shirt and the right was the yoke and cuffs and collar, maybe. Not sure. I think this shirt cost me $25; material, pattern and labor. A small fortune for a cotton shirt in the late 1970's. (okay, who didn't know the boy in the tomatoe shirt was going to be gay???)
Many years later, I tried making shirts of my own with varying levels of success. Generally shirts that didn't fit very well. Don't know how I consistently made shirts just a bit too small and just a bit not good enough to wear anywhere except around the house (these photographed better than they really look.

Then, I became a quilter and my sewing need was satisfied.

But, now, I've decided to try again. Peter at Male Pattern Boldness is doing a sew-along to make a dress shirt. Don't know much more than that, should hear about the pattern tomorrow, whether we're all making the same one, or each making from a different one. Not sure which would be worse as there aren't many cool new patterns and I have a couple of vintage out of print patterns I've collected over the years that I'd love to try out. Anyway, the sew along doesn't start til early Feb, so plenty of time to get the pattern and fabric. I'm thinking off white with a pinstripe, but I'll be limited to what I can find. All I have a big enough piece of has frogs or pigs on it...not happening.

I've seen that a couple of other bloggers I follow are going to give it a try and at least one is on the fence. Should be fun. Peter is a talented and entertaining garment maker.

Hope you're having a good Thursday.



The opposite of Love

So, it's Way Back Wednesday at my blog and if you've followed for a while, these can be really hard posts where I talk about something that happened in the past and quite often changed my life. Or, it could be about stubbing my toe last week...you never can tell.

This one starts about 18 years ago; maybe more. I was grousing about some boyfriend that I was mad at to my best friend and how much "I hate him. I just hate him."

My friend's partner, who was older than either of us, sat me down and had a bit of a talk with me that day. And, this is what he taught me.

Love is a strong emotion. Hate is a strong emotion. The opposite of feeling a strong emotion about someone is not to feel another strong emotion about them. The opposite of feeling a strong emotion about someone is to feel nothing about them at all.

For a long time, the logic of that was lost on me. Oh, I'd remind myself of it and my friend never hesitated to remind me of it, but actually living this advice took time.

It took years of feeling hurt by the people I loved, to which I would respond with anger and hurt feelings, for me to understand that the opposite of loving them and continuing to feel hurt was just not to give a damn about what they thought, said, or did. I was stuck in a pattern with people who were so oblivious to my feelings or presence that I don't think they even realized how hurt I was. At least until I would have enough and I would explode. Then, somehow, I'd find myself in the wrong for blowing up and they'd be in power again. Love, hate, love.

And, I learned that the only way to break that cycle was to practice indifference. Indifference is the true opposite of love (and subsequently of hate). And, it took practice. Sometimes all I could manage to do was appear to be indifferent. And, I'd practice appearing indifferent until I actually could start to feel indifferent.

Eventually, I had to practice indifference toward the very best friend whose partner gave me this sage advice. As he grew older, his issues with drugs became increasingly problematic and then started to affect my life, even though we were, by that time, hundreds of miles apart. I continued to feel hurt and used when he would drift into Austin until I couldn't deal with it any longer. Maybe that doesn't make sense to everyone, but if you've ever loved an addict, then you know exactly what I mean. I ended that friendship in an effort to protect myself and my newly developing relationship with Rob. And, it took me a long time to get over it. My friend called and left messages and he wrote long and hateful letters and I practiced indifference by not responding. Because, had I responded, I would have been right back in the cycle that I was trying to pull myself free of. I practiced indifference until I felt indifferent. And, potentially saved my own life and certainly saved a relationship that has grown to mean everything to me.

My little girl has not learned the lesson of indifference. And, it is not a lesson I can teach her, nor is she old enough or ready to hear the speech about how Hate is not the opposite of Love. I'm sure there will be a time when she is ready to hear, but it isn't now. Oh, we've certainly said it enough times, but she can't hear it yet.

I know that she watches me as I practice distance in some of my own relationships and I hope that she is learning a good lesson. Children learn more from what we do than what we say...okay, I made a generalization. My child learns more from what I do that what I say. My child is learning that there are different ways to deal with people than just continuing to be hurt. There are other ways to deal with people than with anger. Even old people like me can change from being perpetually on the edge of a meltdown. It's more effective to talk to someone than to shout at them, no matter how angry they've made me. And, she's also learning that sometimes I slip up in my practice and forget what I'm trying to do and revert to my old ways. But, it's not the end of the world. It is possible to apologize and to admit that I have been wrong without putting myself back in the position of feeling hurt. And, she is learning how adult partners deal with the stresses of being in a long term relationship. We don't retreat to argue and we don't retreat to make up. Our little girl has many lessons to learn and we are being the best teachers we know how. And, one of those lessons is that no one is infallible. Everyone makes mistakes. And, almost all mistakes have a way out, if you're only open and follow your heart to find it.

Sometimes that way out is to practice indifference. Sometimes it is to practice love. And, once in a while, you have to live with a little hate.

That's why I'm featuring this very cute little UFO quilt today. It's not my UFO. It is my daughter's. This little quilt might not actually be a UFO. It might actually be finished, safety pins, no binding, and all. This quilt was a gift for her mother and is suspended in time at the point where she realized her mother wasn't writing back or sending cards or presents anymore, even on birthdays and cmas.

I hope one day I can help my little girl practice indifference.

Whew! That was a heavy one.
Hope you are all doing well on this Way Back Wednesday. Take care. Especially of your heart. Lane