Buttons and buttonholes

I knew that this weekend, I had to finish Syd's shirt or it wouldn't be ready for her birthday.  I spent part of Saturday sorting my buttons by color, which actually was more fun than it sounds, only to discover I didn't have 9 matching black buttons.  I don't have 9 matching anything, except plain white.  So, that meant a quick trip into JoAnn's. 

I hope this shirt fits.  She brought me a shirt and said I want mine this size, plus an inch and a half in the sleeves.  And, that's what I did.  But, it seems huge.  I hope that's just an illusion.

One of the things we did this weekend was a goodwill run.  Rob and I decided to clean our closets.  I got rid of two large boxes of very nice clothes that I see in my closet when I'm looking for something to wear and I never pick.  Maybe it's the way it fits or the color or the print (I had a couple shirts that reminded me of pajama tops and they had to go!)  Anyway, I found a shirt that fit great, but had a broken button that I forgot I even had.  I didn't have another olive green button, but I took care of that on Saturday, too and replaced them all.  So, I had 9 buttons and buttonholes for Syd's shirt and 7 buttons for mine. 

I am proud to say it took just under 2 hours.  I've learned to sew buttons on using a zig-zag stitch, so they go quick.  And, I used my favorite buttonholer, which also made things quick.  There's a lot to be said about a tool you know and understand. 

That's a scary looking thing, right?  The manual was last copyrighted in 1941.  All the settings are manual, i.e. no templates that give a just right size buttonhole.  I have it set for a 3/8" buttonhole and would be hard pressed to re-set it for another button.  If I needed a different size buttonhole, I'd likely pull out different tool instead of resetting this one.  But, you can tell by that white strip of fabric that I played with it until I understood the settings, making a lot of different size buttonholes and writing down the settings with a sharpie.  Even with all that, I still always make a tester in a scrap of fabric and cut it open to make sure that the button will go through.  And, I don't cut any of my buttonholes open until I've finished making them all and am happy with where they are and how they look.  I can pick them out until the fabric is cut. 

The buttonholer allows a straight stitch machine to make a zig zag stitch.  The metal plate in front of it covers the feed dogs so that the grips on the bottom of the buttonholer can grip the fabric and move it side to side and forward and backward so it can stitch all the way around.  The small piece to the right of that is the real miracle.  It's a converter that lets me use a short shank foot on my Bernina, so I can use all my short shank feet on the Bernina machine.  That makes for the pairing of two perfect tools. 

Rob's Mom is coming this week, so we've had a flurry of cleaning.  We did the traffic path in Syd's room again with the carpet cleaner and I've been playing in the dining room, making it pretty for fall.  And, I spent a scary amount of time yesterday cooking.  I made a roast and cookies and a shepherd's pie and a pot of soup.  And, then we did dishes forever. 

Well, it's a new week.  I guess I better get up and get started.  Everybody have a great Monday. 



Not my normal style

We all step outside our comfort zone sometimes, right? 

Sometimes that's even a success, right?

And, sometimes, it's not.  Right.

I bought the bright prints for this several years ago and was so excited.  It must have been spring.  I came home and added some fabrics and cut out a quilt.  I just made up a pattern and cut out all the pieces I was going to need.  I even took a picture of the pieces, all laid out like they were supposed to be. 

Now, I can't find the pictures and the fabric is not really "me", so this one needs to go to Linus.  And, that meant finding a pattern that would take the specific pieces I had cut.  And, this is what I came up with. 

Finish it, quilt it, send it to Linus.  This is the best plan for this quilt.

This is almost like picking up someone else's UFO and trying to figure out a way to finish it.  Note to self:  always store the pattern with the fabric.

Everybody have a great Tuesday.  The little snowman quilt is almost all sewn down, so next will be layering and quilting him.  But, plenty of time for that, right?

Not!  the holidays are around the corner. 



I don't follow instructions very well

I got the little snowman quilt all fused down this morning.  It took a lot longer than I anticipated.  I folded up a heavy cotton tablecloth on the floor and topped that with a folded towel so I could lay the whole background out.  Then, I laid everything on it and when I was happy with the positioning, I fused it all down. 

This is what I ended up with.

This was the pattern. 

I like my changes.  And, yes, I forgot to trace the pattern from the back. 

This was a kit I bought at the guild's show a few weeks ago.  Rob and I looked at it and I almost didn't buy it because I didn't immediately love it.  But, I'm so glad I didn't pass on it.  We decided it would be this year's Christmas quilt.  I got it for $10 on the second day of the show.  I squared the center fabric but didn't take any size off of it, so it's larger than the pattern would have been.  I added both border fabrics because I didn't like the ones that came with the kit.  I added the fabric for the center tree.  The one next to the snowman was cut from what they gave me for the back.  I'd still have plenty, but I really like that fabric and think I can find something I like a little less for a backing.  I have a candy cane print I might use for a binding if it's not too busy. 

To cut down on the stiffness, I trimmed my paper backed fusible about 3/8" inside the lines, so the larger pieces are only stuck down around the edges.  I was able to use what I cut away to make the smaller pieces, so I used a lot less fusible than the pattern.  The snowman and the snowflake centers are two fabric layers thick so that you can't see the background through the white. 

I'm going to finish it by straight stitching just inside all the applique pieces with matching thread.  I've never finished raw edge applique that way before and want to try it.  And, because this is a wall quilt, it really doesn't need to stand up to much laundering. 

But, no more today.  I've got other things to do. 

Everybody have a great weekend. 

I wonder how long I can hold out before I start sewing these applique pieces down.

I don't think it will be long. 



Working away

It was another busy weekend around la casa de That Man Quilts.  On Saturday, I worked in the garden.  I had really let it go too long.  It had gotten way too overgrown during the heat, when I didn't want to go outside.  Now, you can see individual plants again.  And, the plants are out of the shade.  Hopefully, it will look good when Rob's Mom is here in a couple weeks. 

While the sewing room was down, I worked on something new.  Something I could make outside of the sewing room.  This is a little kit I bought at the quilt show a couple weeks ago.  This is where I started. 

But, it didn't really make me happy.  So, I kept playing.  And, I got here. 

Still not there...excuse the misplaced nose and scarf, I just saw that...I'll get it figured out, but I might be moving things around for a good while more.  I have another tree cut out because I believe that should be an odd number.  And, there are still the three snowflakes to lay out.  I think it's the pinecones at the top that bother me.  They just don't really add anything for me.  The good thing is, until I iron it down, I can move it anywhere I want to. 

I'm also making Sydney a shirt for her birthday.  She picked the fabric the last time she and I went quilt shopping.  It's very strange quilt fabric.  It's a batik, but it's very light weight batik.  Consequently, it's stretchy and squirmy like rayon and straight lines were a struggle. 

But, the hard part is done now.  All that's left is buttons and buttonholes, and while they aren't hard, they are my least favorite part of shirtmaking.  I even embroidered her name in the yoke.  She saw it hanging on the chair on Sunday afternoon, so she knows I'm working on it.  But, I wouldn't let her look at it.  Hopefully I can keep her hands off it til her birthday. 

Everybody have a great week.  Sorry I didn't blog yesterday but the computer gods were against me.  Today, everything worked slick as a whistle.  Grrrr.  That's the stuff makes me feel cray-cray!



A new broom sweeps clean

I'd love to turn that into some political quip, but it's not.  It's much more literal than that.

We keep a relatively clean house.  I had an Aunt who had a plaque in her kitchen when I was a kid.  It said "My house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy." 

That's my motto, too. 

One of the things we do regularly is to steam the carpets.  This weekend was designated for that task.  Before we started, Rob was looking over the steamer and found a torn suction hose.  Okay, so those hoses are pretty important.  He showed it to me and we started talking about our last few carpet steaming experiences and we'd both noticed that the cleaner was sucking up less, but neither of us had really talked about it. 

And, now we know why.

I think Rob thought I'd need convincing to replace instead of try to repair.  But, one of my first thoughts was, we've had this thing for years and we use it regularly.  We've gotten our money's worth.  And, we drove to the store and replaced it, and by noon, we were waiting for everything to dry.

When we work together, we work well.  I even joked as we were leaving the store that I feel like I'm missing some of the experience of spending money because we don't argue enough about major purchases. 

I accomplished a couple other things.  I got the blue and yellow stars Linus quilt bound, but not washed.  I got the last replacement quilting stitches in the green Double Wedding Ring quilt and it's ready to wash.  And, I got this quilted.  Lots of lines and a maple leaf free motion pattern across those piano keys. 


It's not finished tho.  One of the things I saw on Simply Quilts the other day was using buttons to finish a quilt and I have a beautiful multi-generational button collection.  I'm thinking that buttons would finish off those larger solid squares just perfect.  Or maybe not.  The beauty of it is that I can lay them on there and decide if I like them before I sew them on. 

We'll see. 

Next up is the pastel Dresden Plate quilt.  But, I need a batting.  And, I've been cheaping out.  But, I need to bite that bullet and just get it ordered.  Maybe it's time to start buying them two at a time.

I was walking through the garden yesterday.  I saw this in bloom.  Unfortunately, it's at the top of a 10 foot tall plant.  Holy Moly, this one got big this year.  I don't know what it is, so if you recognize it, please let me know.  The leaves are kind of fern like and at the end of the stalks, there are these large yellow cones.  Those then form a tri pointed seed pod from each flower.  It's a lovely plant that I really need to enjoy this year because I've got to cut it way back this fall and I don't know if it will survive.  But, it turned into a tree!  And, it's shading too much space.  If the bloom wasn't so pretty, I'd likely have cut it down already.  This is just one of a couple things that has gotten too big for the space. 

I'm looking forward to winter gardening.

Everybody have a great Monday.  It's the start of a new week.  Anything could happen.

I hope whatever happens, it's something fun. 



Gravity is not a quilter's friend...

Alex Anderson said that on her show, Simply Quilts in the mid-90's.  And, I've said it so many times, it's like a mantra.  And, my friend Kath remembered it.  Thanks, Kath!!

If the quilt is hanging over an edge, you can't smoothly glide the quilt on the machine bed while dragging it over a sharp edge.  Believe me, I've tried and every time I do, I stop and remember Alex's words.  I puddle my quilt around the machine so that the area I'm moving with my hands is flat around the needle.  It's hard to take a picture of this, so you'll have to use some imagination with these pics.  I keep a small, lightweight rolling drawer unit under the sewing machine cabinet arm.  I can pull it out and it gives me a flat surface under my left arm.  It's not quite as tall as the other surface, but it's tall enough to keep the quilt from hanging to the floor or sitting in my lap.

When I quilt, I'm only working a section about 18" at any time.  With very fine quilting the working section is much smaller.  I pile the extra quilt around the working section in a puddle about 3 feet across.  The part in the middle of the puddle is the working section.  That way, there's no drag when I move that working section around in any direction and I can get even stitches and smooth curves and straight lines. 

In this picture, I've pushed the drawer unit out of the way and the quilt is hanging down to the floor.  If I try to push that along under the needle, I'm going to have to push the part of the quilt I'm quilting, but also pull the quilt up as I go.  And, that's a LOT of work, especially pulling it over the sharp edge that is the front of my cabinet. 

When people say they struggle to push and pull the quilt, I suggest adding a surface under the left arm. 

Last weekend, while they were at the beach, I pulled out my set of Simply Quilts DVDs and watched.  There was a commercial for a fair with the dates, so I know I was watching episodes from 2005.  I still do what I learned from Alex and her guests.  Just about every episode I watched had some tidbit or technique that I still remember and use today, including the one I've talked about here.  I still love the colors that I saw used in quilts on the show.  I still love the patterns I saw there.  I can hardly wait to find time to watch the rest of the series.  (I have most of it on DVD).

Well, today we submit that project I've been whining about for most of the year.  The one where the grammar had to be perfect.  t's a big day.  I've done some really good work.  Especially under a serious lack of leadership.  And, only time will tell how well I succeeded.  I'm going to miss this project.

Like a kick from a donkey.

Everybody have a great Friday.  lane


An especially busy weekend.

It was Syd and Rob's weekend at the coast.  They go every year with a group of friends for a remembrance of a friend lost a few years ago.  This year, I painted the kitchen.  And, it really needed it.  It used to be yellow.  And, I painted it yellow.

Actually, it was a very pure and bright yellow.  But, the living and dining rooms are a brownish gray.  It made the pure yellow look wrong.  So, the new yellow is a grayish yellow.  You can barely see the difference, but it's there and I know it, and I guess that's all that counts.  And, the ceiling is so nice and white!

And, I did a little quilting, too.  I got the hand applique done on the DWR quilt.  When I was pulling out the old applique, I really tore up a line of quilting, so I finished pulling that out and put it back in.  I have a couple spots to go back and do a bit of hand work on and then that will finally be finished for real...not sure why I'm having so much trouble putting finished to that.

I made two blocks for the Westering Women quilt from Barbara Brackman.  I've finally gotten so I like this quilt.  I think I figured out its purpose and that gave me some focus for it.  The blocks must have drawn criticism for the Y seams (Barbara wrote a whole "no whining" post about them).  But, if you understand Y seams, they're really not hard.  It's all about marking the seam start and end of the seamline and backstitching at both.  It took a little longer, but they're also a little more precise, I think, for the extra time spent. 

Hmmm.  I just looked at my directional prints in the block on the left.  The camera caught direction where my eye never has.  Or, I would have been more careful.

I worked on this quilt.  I have over half the stars quilted.  I'm thinking about doing a meandering line with stars in it as an all over design in the blue sections.  I'm a little worried about doing too many stars and overplaying that hand.  We'll see.  maybe some fluffy cloud shapes instead. 

And, I hung the new valance in the sewing studio.  I use table runners here.  Four 12" blocks with sashing makes a perfect size.  The old valance was nice.  It was blue and yellow and really reflected a previous time in my quilting.  And, it was time for something new. 

These are four batik blocks I made in a BOM.  I dropped out after this.  I remembered why when I was hanging it the other day.  The shop is a nice shop and the lady that was running the BOM is a nice lady.  But, she couldn't write instructions for nothing.  And, it was so frustrating that I only made four.  But, now those four make a very nice runner or valance.  I'm loving it!  And, it's a great way to use up related orphan blocks. 

That represents another UFO down.  I am vey focused on UFO's and scraps right now.  With an occasional "new" project tossed in to keep me interested.  On Friday, my local shop was having a sale, an additional markdown on all their markdown fabrics, and I stopped for backs.  So, that will be two more quilts I can move forward.  I don't know where my quilting will take me.  But, I do know that somehow, it has to be related to finishing up some projects.

Everybody have a great Monday!!  Another new week.  And, what will happen?  We don't know.  So, there's something to look forward to.