Almost finished

My new year's resolution is working out well.  I'm finding ways to spend more time doing nothing and there's definitely less multi-tasking.  I'm enjoying that.  Last week, I took Friday off and spent most of it doing nothing.  The rest I spent adjusting my re-sized shirt pattern.  The new shirt fits well, but I had to make some adjustments as I was making it and I needed to incorporate those into the re-sized pattern.  I ended up pinning the paper pattern pieces together so I could adjust multiple pieces at a time.  It worked out well and I'm looking forward to my next shirt.  

This is the shirt I'm working on.  It looks great, but it's unfinished.  I ordered two sets of buttons and one is delivered, but I wanted to see what the others looked like before I commit.  Now, it looks like the other set may never be delivered so I can move forward with what I have and finish this one up so I can wear it.  

Funny story.  While I was making it, I had to make a pattern adjustment and I chose badly.  I made a cut that caused the hem to be much larger than the shirt, so it hung on me like a maternity garment.  I had to take some hem out, then the side seams part way into the sleeve, recut it and then put it all back together.  I thought it would take forever, but it was only about 1.5 hours and it was so worth it!

My next almost finished project was this quilt.  I've been quilting on it a tiny bit at a time for a while and decided I wanted it finished.  I have a perfect place to hang it.  I got the quilting finished yesterday afternoon and all that's left is the binding.  This was a play project, just for my enjoyment and I have definitely enjoyed it.  I like projects that are just for fun much more than making something that needs to be perfect so it can be seen by other people.  I played with a lot of different quilting designs here and it's not "quilted evenly across the surface".  The quilting matches the mood I was in the day I put it in.  

I took a couple nice photos yesterday morning when it was foggy and wet.  

We took advantage of a sunny break to walk the dogs.  

And, how about one quilt photo from the collection.  This is one of those quilts that was probably a better idea than a quilted project.  It's another quilt I made just for my pleasure.  The batting is wool, so we don't use it on the bed, but that's what it was intended for.  I made it the year we got married as our "wedding quilt" and like so many wedding quilts, it doesn't get used much.  That's okay, tho.  I have a plan to make another version that's more colorful and that we will be able to sleep under.  

Everybody have a great week!  Do something you enjoy just because you enjoy it and don't let what others might think change your mind.



Trip Around the World and other vintage quilts

 We went to our new JoAnn's location yesterday.  It's bigger, it's brighter, and the first time I was there, it was crowded with helpful staff.  This time, it was not and looked as picked over as the old store location did.  But, that's okay, we managed to find everything we needed.  Most of my sewing time was on my new shirt.  The class I took last Monday wasn't very helpful, except she had a new way to set in a collar and I think I ended up with the neatest collar stand I've ever made.  I tried to take a picture, but it needs a press before I share it.  I added some size to the shirt for comfort and as I was making it, I made additional adjustments.  Now I need to transfer all that to the pattern.  And, while we were at JoAnn's, I bought a piece of fabric for another shirt for more practice.  

Anyway, what I have to share is quilts.  These are some of the vintage quilts I own, inherited from both sides of my family.  

I believe these first quilts all came from my Mom's side.  They're all the same pattern and if I had to guess, made by the same person.  I believe they all have whipped field cotton battings.

This one was in our home when I was a child.  It has a couple of loosely woven fabrics that have shredded, but for the most part, it's in good shape.  

This one is in the best shape and I love the brown "sashing" with the blue back and binding.

This is famously known as the quilt Dad put under the car to lay on while he changed the oil.  It has a very loosely woven fabric in 28 of the blocks that is shredded.  I collected all the fabrics to repair it once and then decided that maybe this quilt just needs to live out it's life with the oil spot and the holes in the backing and the shredded fabric in the top.  It's still a pretty quilt.  

My Mom made both my sisters quilts and used this same pattern.  The fabrics in this quilt were partly from my both my sisters' clothes and some borrowed from other sewers.  

My Dad's family seemed to lean to more utility quilting, with very heavy thick cotton batting.  

My Mom and Dad used to live on a lake and the wall that faced the lake was mostly windows and sliding doors.  The room we stayed in was freezing and I went to the cabinet to look for cover and pulled out this very heavy quilt.  We were snug as a bug in a rug.

Not sure who made this one.  I've only seen the pattern once and believe it's sunflower in a star.  Between each of the star points is a flower petal that unfolds.  

My Mom made this quilt for me.  I recognize many of the fabrics in it from clothes she made.  

And, my great Grandmother made this one for me when I was about 15.  It's double knit top, polyester batting and a poly knit back and at the end of the world, when everyone is huddled in caves for shelter, this is the quilt I'm taking when we abandon the house.  It will last forever and is very, very (very, very) warm.  She pieced the top and then sent it to the ladies at the Methodist church and they hadn't quilted it for her for $5.  She used to buy knit scraps from a local mill in huge bags and pieced this pattern over and over and gave them all away.

This is a quilt I bought.  One day, I hope to pull it out and redo some things about it so I can enjoy it more.  I really need to take out the blue marker and I'd like to replace the pansy appliqué center that I've seen on the internet used with tie quilts and use circles instead.  Mostly, I need to wet the top to take out the blue washout quilt marking that's still there and definitely re-quilt it.  One day.  When there's nothing else to do.  

Rob and I went to a work dinner the other night.  We got all dressed up and looked great and didn't take any pictures...we said we would, but didn't think about it after we were dressed.  It was a fun evening, and everyone was anxious to meet Rob and lots of funny stories were told and lots of laughter.  It's always nice to be with people away from the office and we managed to talk about almost nothing work related.  I realized that I've become very socially awkward after the pandemic and need to get out more and work on that.  

Everybody have a great Monday!  Just because it's old doesn't mean it's junk.  I hold many precious memories and momentums of them and most of them are things I will have until my memory is done.  



Quilts galore

It was quilt re-folding weekend.  And, my back and legs are sore from up and down and unfold and take pictures and refold and up and down again.  When a quilt is folded, the fabric on the outside of the fold gets stretched, and the fabric inside gets scrunched.  Every year (or two), I refold my quilts along different lines.  This year, it was half lengthwise, half again, then thirds.  Last time, it was third, half, third.  It's always a good opportunity to see my work and get myself motivated to sit down and quilt, so after playing with quilts all day Saturday and cleaning up the mess afterward (more things were packed to give away), and working in the yard to move two plants that were very much in the wrong spots and cut back some of the freeze die-back, I sat and quilted the afternoon away.  Today's plan is to take an online shirt making class I bought over holiday break.  I found a beautiful piece of fabric when I was cleaning out the closet that should make a beautiful shirt.  

I promised photos...

This is the first thing I ever quilted.  I don't know how I knew to stack the front, back and batting so that I could sew them all together and turn it right side out, and I don't know where I would have gotten the batting.  Maybe this was a kit.  Anyway, I hand quilted along all the major lines and added some jingle bells and it's hung on the inside of our front door every holiday since.

This was my first quilt.  It's supposed to be log cabin blocks, but I lost the instructions and wouldn't let that stop me.  I knew I needed to alternate the light and dark strips, but I couldn't remember the order, and the lights aren't really light anyway.  Everything was medium or dark in these days because I loved the color saturation.  All the prints are little 90's florals.  It's hand quilted in the ditch, except for the border, which is a grid and there are little ovals in the sashing that I thought I was so clever to have thought of.  Alex Anderson's Simply Quilts was my first and best teacher.  

This is my second quilt.  It's the first one that Rob and I made together and probably the only one I've credited him on.  He's really good with color and we picked the colors for the blocks and he ironed while I sewed.  Hand quilted again.  The block pattern is Old Maid's puzzle.  I love the secondary pattern it creates.

Compare that hand quilting to this hand quilting from many years later.  Practice is the best teacher.  The plates in this quilt were bought in an antique store, but the only pretty one was the one on the outside.  I wasn't smart enough to look at the rest.  When I got them home, I took them apart, re-grouped the fabrics into more pleasing combinations and put them back together again.  Everything in this quilt is done by hand; the piecing, appliqué, assembly, quilting and binding.  And, the name is Every Stitch by Hand.  It won a ribbon for hand quilting.  It's currently laid out in the spare room floor, blocked and drying.  I don't know that it had ever been washed and the blue ink I marked it with was showing up.  I think I was afraid the fabrics were too fragile for the washing machine, but I was wrong.

This was another early quilt.  Also hand quilted but by this time, I'd ventured out of the ditch and was quilting on the diagonal...ooh, so bold...  I'm probably going to make this quilt again, but in half size.  This is a huge queen sized quilt, big enough for a bedspread, and we don't really need many more big quilts.  

Another early quilt.  By this time, I had a mentor and she'd loaned me part of her stash to cut a quilt from. I cut a second quilt from it, too and made two of these Card Trick quilts.  I should have kept the one made from her stash and given the one made from mine, but I didn't.  I gave her the one from her stash, because I thought it was prettier, but it doesn't matter.  This has always been a favorite. This is early, simple machine quilting, before I could make a feather.  

After all that difficult piecing, I found Eleanor Burns.  Eleanor took hard patterns and made them simple.  

Sometimes, quilts look better from the back.  At this point, I'm feathering everything and learning about small background fillers.  This was just supposed to be practice, four different feather patterns.  Looking at my quilts, I could see why I'm tired of feathers...but they're so dang perfect for quilting!

Okay, I could go on and on, but at some point, this post gets too big to open, so I'll share more later and a post for the vintage quilts I inherited or bought.  Those quilts teach lessons about color and design when fabric wasn't abundant.  I took pictures of 65 quilts on Saturday.  And as I sort through them, I'm realizing I didn't get them all.  But today, it's all about shirts.

Everybody have a great week!  Sew, knit, crochet, garden, find something that makes you happy and spend time practicing it.  Most of all, have fun with it.  You can always pick it out later and do it again.  Lord knows I did plenty of that between the first picture and the last.  



Love it or lose it

I spent this weekend cleaning up in the studio and playing love it or lose it with my fabric and tools.  It had gotten out of control.  Like you had to be careful walking around because there was so much stuff on the floor.  I could only step a couple steps into the closet without stepping on a quilt folded up and piled there. That had to change.  There are no before pictures, thank you for understanding.  I started in the closet, with the goal of getting rid of a third.  I did not succeed, and I guess I knew I wouldn't, but I still got rid of a lot of stuff.  Old stuff, stuff I'll never use, stuff I bought when I was a new quilter and thought I needed a piece off every bolt and every new tool that came out.  And, I started on the fabric.  It had one chance to make me say I love you, and if not, it went in the giveaway box.  I went through all the collections, like the civil war fabrics and 30's repros and 50's repros and Christmas and batiks and if it didn't strike my fancy, it was gone.  There were a lot of prints that were weird multi-colors or largish prints that I'd tried to use in quilts before, but had never been able to make fit anywhere.  They're gone.  

I told Rob I may as well give it all away because I had enough UFOs and kits to keep me busy for the rest of my life.  

The studio still looks cluttered.  I guess that's to be expected in a room that holds my home office and where three machines are always ready to sew (Bernina for quilting, a machine for piecing/sewing, and a treadle) and where there's a place to sit in front of a window and relax with some handwork.  That's a lot of purposes for the smallest bedroom in the house.  To me, it's cozy, but I get where it might make someone else claustrophobic.

And, the closet.  UFOs on the left (at an angle where you can't count them).  Patterns and tools for working with yarn and floss across the back.

And, Linus fabrics and fabric collections to the right.  

And the giveaway pile in the garage.  Rob has a friend that sells things and believes everything has a value.  She give it to loved ones, sells it, or barters it for other things.  And, she'll take just about anything.

During the week last week, I was all about work.  There isn't much going on right now, so I took several training classes, part to increase my understanding of my job (there was no training when I started...they just handed us a computer and the first few of us created the job).  I need to learn more about the stuff the others added to the job responsibilities so I can continue to be a good mentor.  The other part was for software skills because I'm pretty good, but I could be so much better at working with and presenting data.  

I also managed to make two people very angry and I'm not sure how.  I asked some very detailed questions to them both.  I was polite and asked some followup questions.  And, while I got the answers, I pissed them both off.  Communication isn't my strong suit and I'm always working at being a more effective communicator.  I have to remember that no matter how I think I'm presenting, there's another person involved in the communication and their feelings and emotions come into play.  But, it still makes me feel bad when I make someone angry.    

Communication will always be a WIP. 

Everybody have a great week!  I know there aren't many pictures in this week's post, so I'll tease you that next weekend is quilt folding weekend, where I refold all my quilts and put them back into the closet in an orderly way.  There are always lots of pictures after that.  



A new year's resolution

I'm not usually one for resolutions, but last year, I ended the year exhausted and resolved that this year, I would spend more time doing nothing and less time multi-tasking.  It's not a competition to see who can do the most things.  I need to spend more time relaxing and learning and less time getting stuff done.  Because no matter how hard I worked, there was always something else that needed to be done and I could not rest.  

That said...

I decided to take the tatting up a level and see if I could make something other than a snowflake.  I made about 25 of them and was bored.  I looked for patterns and had printed a few and this one looked like a good step up without being too difficult.  Even then I had to make sections of it about 5 times before I got the hang of the pattern.  On this one, I learned about turning my work, which was hard for me to wrap my head around at first, and I learned a new way to bury thread ends and I made a set of picot gauges so all those would be a more consistent size.    Anyway, I managed to slog through it once and then started one with a prettier thread and finished it last night.  

I also quilted the greenhouse quilts and got them washed.  They only took a couple hours each to quilt.  I did parallel vertical lines, so it was quick and easy.  They're ready to store until our next hard freeze event.  

All the plants in the greenhouses made it through the freeze with no damage (I get better at this each time).    I pulled a bunch of the biggest pots out to water them yesterday and that gave me plenty of space to walk around and water the rest.  Wow, that picture looks really messy, but it's not messy at all compared to past years when I couldn't move around in there because there were so many plants.  

I cleaned up the studio/home office and did a little organizing, but you wouldn't be able to tell because it's still very cluttered looking.  You'd need before and after pictures.  But, Rob and I could see the difference.  He's so orderly that my studio probably makes him a little crazy.  

And, I left several things undone without trying to force them into my schedule so I could spend more time practicing my resolution by doing nothing.  It felt good to look at something that needs doing and think 'I'll get to you later'.  Rob bought me a bonsai starter kit for Christmas.  It turns out that bonsai is not about growing a mini tree from a seed.  It's about having the patience to grow a mini tree from a seed.  That feels like a good metaphor for my resolution this year.  

The only other pictures I took last week were food.  

I made air fried chicken as the last dinner of 2022.  

And Suzanne's potato soup (yes, you Suzanne) as the first dinner of 2023.  Suzanne shared this recipe with me a long time ago...maybe 12 years? and I've made it every NY day since.  I freeze the last of the Christmas ham for a few days to use in it in the soup.  And of course, we had our black-eyed peas for good luck in the new year.    

Here's wishing us all a very happy new year.  May it be filled with all we want, whether that's getting more done (or less), or learning a new skill, or just relaxing in this short interim between elections.  May the year be filled with peace and joy and love (especially peace!).  And may we learn something good about ourselves that we didn't already know.