Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Slow and steady

I'm happy to report that yesterday was a better day in the sewing department. OH - that's because I didn't sew anything! I did some cutting, but I spent a lot of time on the computer getting the homework assignments done and making videos. I have to say that the video editor on my Smartphone is pretty decent. It doesn't do crazy things, but I learned how to break apart a video and well - you'll just have to watch the video yourself. I'll post the link at the end of this blog.

It was an interesting mail day yesterday. I ordered two things and both of them came on the same day! That's going to make for boring mail days in the future.

One package that arrived yesterday
The second package

The first one is a quilt pattern. I've had my eye on the pattern for a couple of years. It was originally a coordinated Row by Row quilt from the Raleigh, NC area. I was hoping that we could get there to pick up the patterns in person. That didn't happen. Then the designer decided to publish the entire quilt as a pattern. I was hoping to find it somewhere but that didn't happen. I've been following the pattern designer and get her newsletter. When she announced she was having a sale, I jumped and bought the pattern.

Just checked - this is from the 2018 Row by Row Experience with the theme Sew Musical. There's a story that goes with this quilt. I'm not sure I should share as it'll totally show my ignorance of the musical world.

Row by Row Quilt pattern from 2018

OK -- when I first saw the quilt, I contacted the Quilt Posse (my road trip friends) and told them about this great BOB MARLEY quilt that we had to get the patterns for. When I showed them the picture, they all had a laugh. If you are into music, you know that Margaritaville was sung by Jimmy Buffet. Bob Marley is a whole different genre!!  Bob Marley - Jamaica - beach - come on - that's close enough for me!!!!  It doesn't matter  - this is my Bob Marley quilt and I'm sticking to it!!!

Should you want to refresh yourself with the lyrics to Margaritaville, here's a link to them. 

What was in the second package? That was my zipper tape. Too late to work on for the retreat, but that's OK. I never even got close to working on the yoga bag.

Lime zipper tape

The big question is - is the zipper tape the right color???

The color is a definite MATCH

Seriously?? I couldn't have matched that better. I was thrilled. I don't normally order things online, but not many stores around me carry that zipper tape. Yep - I'd do that again if I had to, but I also know a local store that carries it - just not all the colors. It'll depend on how urgent I need the zipper tape.

Just in case you're wondering what happened to the retreat basket, I put the yoga bag and the backpack components back in the retreat basket. It's now back in Studio B on the shelf under the table. I've got a couple of other projects to prep and they'll go in the basket as well. I'm well on my way to having everything prepped for the next 5-day sewing retreat.

Quilt retreat project basket of prepped projects

I liked that system so well, that I went to Studio B and got another laundry basket. I filled it with the thing that I need to work on this week. Some are prepped, most are not. I brought the basket up to Studio U and now I have my work for the week.

Sewing projects for this week

Yes - this helps to keep me focused and I'm all for staying focused. This morning, I did manage to finish the homework assignment for the Summer Moon quilt. Yeah! And with minimal ripping. It's going to be a nice quilt, but as you can probably guess, I've already changed one of the blocks around as I didn't like it. Oh boy!!!

When I went up to Studio U yesterday, I did have a laugh. Look at the cutting table.

The cutting table in Studio U

I'm very good at taking up ALL flat surfaces! However, it looks much better this morning. My Easy Street quilt took up a lot of room on the table. I did the measurements and to put a 4-inch border on the quilt and the binding, I need 1.6 meters. I'm pretty sure that I won't have that big of a piece of purple so that's going on the shopping list.

I won't buy online - I'll wait until we're over this crisis and then get out and buy in person.

The girls are very upset. They did NOT get out for the afternoon walk yesterday. I went out on my bike instead and got in over 30 K. I couldn't help myself - I went out into the country. OK - I ended up on a nice quiet road that runs parallel to the city border. It's 4 K from civilization.

Out riding again

When I started, it was sunny. But then it got cloudy and not quite as warm as I had planned. And I got very lucky because it started to rain as soon as I got home.

I did ride up and down the length of the bike path near me to get in more KMs. I love it - we have this beautiful bike path with big poles on one side!!!  HEY - I'm not complaining - I'm thrilled to have this path. And look there's a fence on one side for added security.

The bike path near my house

What do I have to share with you today??? Well, there's my video - this video is how to shop for fabric in your stash. This is something that we're all probably having to do since we can't get out. It used to be way easier to just go to the store to find something, but no more. I've got things under control and it's easy to look through what I have. That took years and if someone could have given me some advice when I started - it would have been to find a system to organize stuff and keep it organized.

There's also another short video I should share with you. This is how to press things so they stay FLAT. I never realized how much I used my hands to press things until I made the video.

The last one I'll share is how I use a stiletto or quilter's awl INSTEAD of pinning.

I have one more video to edit today and then I'll be done with videos for the homework. And once I get the homework assignment written up this morning, then I'm off the hook. Wait - NO - there are two new blocks due on Friday for Vintage Christmas. After that, then I'll be on a routine as everything will be caught up. But that'll make FIVE of these ongoing projects that I have to keep on schedule. NO problem!!

I"m actually in really good shape as far as getting things done. And I've completely emptied my schedule for April. There is NOTHING on it except for the deadlines of the virtual sew along and our UFO group. Most of May is gone as well. You know what? I'm liking this. It's way more relaxing - I got to lie on the deck with Miss Lexi yesterday. After the crisis is over, I may be given some very serious thought to what goes back on my schedule!

On that note, have a super day!!!!


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

It all went downhill from the weekend

As you know, I had a GREAT weekend at the virtual retreat. While I did have a wee bit of ripping to do as I finished the Easy Street quilt, it was a pretty good weekend with minimal issues.

Yesterday was a totally different scenario. I don't think I've ripped so much in my life! I was working on the homework for one of my ongoing classes. The block was SIMPLE - you'll see tomorrow. I got the block together and it was too small. Seriously??? I couldn't sew a ¼" seam if my life depended on it. So I ripped the block apart.

The seams had to be pressed in a very specific way or they wouldn't nest together. Could I do that? Nope - I had to rip the block apart yet again! And make sure that darn seam allowance didn't get too big. It was a challenge and in the end, I managed to eke out three very simple blocks. That took almost all day!!

I had a great chuckle about it. It was just one of those days!  I was hoping to get the homework to the class yesterday, but that just didn't happen. The photos are edited and loaded into the document. The document is written and the videos are made. I just need to proofread it to make sure it makes sense and then I can hit SEND. Holy -- what a day. Thankfully that doesn't happen often at my house.

I guess I should have taken a break from sewing after five days of intense sewing. Next time - I'll know better.

I was having a mild panic attack about my Fitbit. The darn thing wasn't charging properly. I was even looking at new ones and how long it would take to get a new one to me. Turns out it was just me. Like I said - it wasn't a good day. I had plugged it into the computer as I always do and for some reason, it didn't like that. I plugged it into the wall socket and all is good.

Phew - who wanted to spend $200 right now. I sure didn't.

I had a good chuckle yesterday as I was putting away the leftover fabric bits from Easy Street. Bonnie also chooses paint chips to help her students get the right colors for the quilts. I came across the paint chips for Easy Street in the project box.

Paint Chips for Easy Street

I didn't follow the paint chips as I included orange in my quilt - I think I substituted the orange for the blue.

But when I got working on the homework assignment yesterday and really looked at the fabrics - guess what? The EXACT colors of the paint chips!!!!  I tell you - that was hilarious!!! I'm using white instead of grey.

The fabrics for my new project

It was such a nice day yesterday that I had to be outside. I sat in the backyard and read for quite a bit. Then I decided that I needed to get myself moving. If I wanted a snack, which I did (and had already eaten), then I had better get moving! I took the girls for a much shorter walk than normal - thankfully, they have NO clue as long as they get out.

Then I pumped up the tires on my bike and I was off. Ther's nothing like the freedom of getting on two wheels and going for a spin. I decided to stay in the city so I went up the bike path that's just minutes from my house. I went as far as I could go and then turned onto a normally busy street. It was busy but not as bad as it would have been under normal circumstances. Then I found another bike path to come back.

It was windy in the afternoon, but warmer. I just wore my bike shorts and a shirt with a vest. An orange shirt and a red vest. But do you know that TWICE cars came out of driveways (gas station and grocery store) and the driver wasn't even looking? Just drives forward. For god's sake when you're in a car - be mindful of what's in front of you and on both sides of you!! I trust NO ONE when I'm on my bike. NO ONE.

A stop for a quick photo

It was a short ride at 22 Km, but that's OK. I might head out of the city on the weekend. But for a short ride like this, it's best to stay in the city. I was passed by a police car and not stopped - hey I was keeping my social distance!

What's frustrating is that I keep hearing the radio announcers say - STAY INSIDE. Well, I get it. You need to be responsible, but you do NOT need to stay inside. Just be mindful of where you go and what you do. I'm not breaking any laws.

Someone sent me this picture of someone coping with our current situation. I think he's hitting the bottle a bit much!!


I found a couple of videos to share with you. If you want to know all there is to know about bobbins, check out this video. It's 18 minutes long but well worth a look. One thing that amazes me is how many people do not know that each brand of machine uses their OWN bobbins. I've heard many times - "OH - I don't have an empty bobbin" and someone else will offer one of theirs. NO - that doesn't work. And the other thing that drives me crazy is when people have TWO bobbins total. TWO.  People, I have LOADS of bobbins. Probably close to 100 for my basic sewing machines. They do wear out - toss them. They don't cost much to replace.

I know that many people are cranking out masks like crazy. People are making hundreds of them for family and friends. I've made one. Not because I'm selfish, but because I'm very leery of the homemade masks. YES - they will provide an extra layer of protection and I believe I heard yesterday that we are encouraged to wear one if we go out. Here's the government's official stance on the use of homemade masks. 

Here's the thing -- you will breathe on those masks, the masks will get wet. They become less effective if they are wet. PLUS - they NEED TO BE WASHED. If they get filled with bacteria and you're breathing in that bacteria at a very close range? NOT GOOD. If you wear one - WASH IT. You probably need to boil it to be totally sanitary. So be careful with the homemade masks. Use with caution. You don't want to get sick from something else while you attempt to avoid COVID 19 virus.

I also heard that they are providing a false sense of security among the people wearing them and they now think they can stand closer to each other. NO - I just say NO to the masks. Just wash your hands and stay 6 feet away from everyone.

I'll leave you with one more thing. BluPrint (the old Craftsy) has a TON of FREE videos on their website. The videos are free until April 16. This is your chance to learn something new. Machine quilting, free motion or walking foot - with the top teachers. And there are other topics than quilting on the web site. Get over there and learn ONE THING during this time.

The last thing I'll comment on is my daily step count. Someone asked me how much time I spend each day walking. I walk about 2 - 2 ½ hours EACH and every day!! The girls are with me that entire time and because of that, it's a total upper body workout as well. I could go faster without them and cover more ground. Keeping fit is an important part of my life. I could be doing something else - in front of a screen most likely, but honestly? I'd rather be walking. I'm really trying to limit my screen time to a couple of hours each day. I know - and then I try to entice you with free class videos!

Hey - if you're going to spend time in front of the screen, learn something instead of trolling through Facebook and Instagram. I still don't see the point of spending hours with either of those. I just don't. I like to stay in touch and see what's happening, but to just spend hours seeing what others are doing? Nope - I can catch up in mere minutes! That's why I don't have huge followings - I don't promote and I'm OK with that!

On that happy note, let's hope that today will be a better seeing day than yesterday was!!

Have a super day!!!


Monday, April 6, 2020

Fireside Retreat Day Five

It's a sad day - the last day of our retreat. While I'm ready to go "home", I always hate the last day. Packing up the car and last-minute sewing to get another part of the project done. But alas - it's the end - for this time. I still have four retreats booked for this year.

Honestly, this virtual sewing retreat has been a HUGE learning curve for me. Well, not so much a learning curve as a revelation. Here's what I learned:

  1. I can survive a five-day retreat with ONE laundry basket of projects. Just BE REALISTIC when packing. 
  2. I do not need to panic pack. I touched nothing that was in that bag. 
  3. Do your homework BEFORE you go. Everything was prepped. I had double-checked all the items I would need - tools, thread colors, etc. and I didn't have to go shopping or borrow from anyone. 
  4. Pack the tools and supplies in a separate box so it's easy to find them. 

I can't wait until the next retreat (we've rebooked this one and let's pray that we're able to go so that I can test my new-found knowledge.

In case you think that I sewed day and night - that wasn't the case. I started at 9 AM, stopped briefly for lunch, when for a long walk (over 1 hour in the afternoon), and stopped around 7 or 8. About the same amount of sewing that I would do at the retreat, except for a shopping trip or two. I accomplished loads! And lots of time to chat with the others via our Messenger chat group. We even got in a video chat or two. If ever there is a next time, we need to do that at least once a day. I thought the quality of the chat was bad, but that's because I can't stream very well from that room (it's far from the router). So I had to come to the kitchen. No big deal.

So what did the others get done yesterday?? Since I couldn't technically take pictures, I'm going solely on what they posted.

Tish finished up this table runner that she had started at the November retreat. Notice how beautifully staged it is?

Tish's table runner
 Katheleen got the last of the Martha Washington blocks done for the Snow Days quilt. YEAH!!!!  Hopefully, that's all the pieced blocks she has to make before she can start to sew the quilt together.

Four Martha Washington blocks
 Here are two more blocks from Susan's Vintage Christmas. Remember - she is NOT in our group so don't panic that you missed some homework.

Vintage Christmas blocks
And Susan shared this storage system that she found at IKEA. It looks like a pegboard, but it's not a pegboard. You can buy all kinds of little containers, hooks, etc. to put stuff on the board. I LOVE it. I've given you the link so you can check it out.

IKEA wall storage system

And what did I get done? OH - I was determined. Very determined. My goal was to get the Easy Street quilt top together. Remember - all the blocks and setting triangles were pieced and hanging on the design wall.

Easy Street is the 2012 mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to twirl EVERY seam on the back to reduce bulk. OK - so it does make for a flat quilt, but what a pain. I started when I started to sew it together in 2012.

The sewn seam needs to be twirled 

I had it all laid out with the seams going in the right direction. I was making progress. Then right after lunch, I came back and OH - it appears that I put the wrong setting triangle in this place (half of them were pressed one way and the other half were pressed the other way). When I went to join one of the rows, the seams didn't match. OH - crude. It appears that I was right the first time and shouldn't have changed anything. That meant a wee bit of ripping. I could have finished way before I did. Fortunately, I caught my error before I went too far, but still.

The seams don't nest
At one point, this is what it looked like. It's an awesome quilt and I love the colors and how it appears to be moving.

Easy Street - getting finished
And there it is. The quilt top is done!!!!!!  Let me say that I was doing the happy dance. This was a lot of work to make the blocks and get the top together. A LOT of work. I'm thrilled with the results.

Easy Street quilt top

Now comes the decision to add a border or not? I think it needs a border even though the quilt is already huge at about 84 inches square.

I tried one of the fabrics in the project box. Nope - too light. But it was the only one that I would have had enough of for the border and the binding. I just need a skinny border - about 2 - 3 inches.

Auditioning fabric for the border

This is more like what I want.

This is much better
There isn't enough of that fabric for the borders nor for the binding. I'm going to go shopping today (Chez Elaine) to see if I can find something. If not, that goes on the shopping list when we're allowed out! As much as I would like to finish it now, I'm not going to sacrifice the look I want, just because I can't buy the right color immediately. This won't take long to finish once I get the right color. I'm good with that.

As my ender/leader project, I got all the half-square triangles made for the 11th block of the Mini BOM. 

Half-square triangles made for the mini-BOM

 This morning, I got most of them cut apart and ready to sew. Notice that I'm using my blue mini-design wall?

Laying out the piece of the small block

Oh, shoot - I should have taken a picture of our video chat so I could superimpose it on this picture. I might try to make that happen today. Just for the fun of it. I wasn't thinking fast enough. Actually, I did think of it, but I had left my phone upstairs and was using the iPad for the video chat.

Our photo op bench on the porch at Fireside Retreat

So this is where we normally sit to relax at the retreat. Those red chairs are so comfy and it would have been beautiful to sit out in the sun. Alas, that wasn't to be.

The red chairs at Fireside

However, I can't really complain because this is where I sat yesterday after my walk to enjoy the sun before I went back to finish sewing that quilt top together.

My blue chair in the gazebo
I hope everyone remembered to sign the Guest Book before they left. I love signing the guest book. I made that cover for Emma at the very first retreat.

The Guest Book at Fireside Retreat

And thanks so much to Emma who played along and provided some pictures of Fireside Retreat so we could enjoy the retreat house even if we weren't there.

I forgot to post this picture of the welcome on the chalkboard!! She's truly the best!! I always sign the Guest Book as the Production Crew since we tend to get a lot done when we're there.

Welcome to Fireside Retreat

 And there's the setting sun. One more retreat in our memory book. Thanks, Emma for all your hospitality. It was so much fun!!!

The sun goes down on another retreat

I managed to get the homework assignment out for the Celebration quilt class. It looks like I'm going to be prepping for FIVE of these ongoing classes now. Well, I would be prepping for them anyway, but they've been moved (or will be) to online until things settle down. But that's OK. I've got one more to prep today and I'm going to catch up on some paperwork and e-mails.

I'm going to do some more prep work for sewing and then take a couple of days a week and focus like this past weekend. Or I might just prep in the morning and sew in the afternoon. I'll see how it goes.

Have a great day!!!!


Sunday, April 5, 2020

Fireside Retreat - Day Four

I'm exhausted! This focusing thing is going to kill me, but I'm determined! I swear it's the audiobook! I finished the novel I was reading and moved onto the last audiobook on my shelf. I'm going to have to find another one soon. The book is non-fiction called Salt, Sugar, Fat. It's about how the food industry has engineered food to make us crave more of the bad stuff and how they target their advertising, etc. to make us want more!

Oh - I'm totally aware of it all but it's very interesting to "read" the story of the cereal companies and the soda pop companies. It's actually shocking how the FDA has tried to make the companies more responsible in light of the obesity issue, but it boils down to money. The food companies are big and all they care about is the bottom line. I truly believe that the root of so many evils is that darn bottom line.

We have this discussion at home often. The argument is that it's a free country and people don't have to buy these bad products. Yes - I get that. But they are conditioned from babies - watching the commercials on TV, wanting those incentives in the cereal boxes or whatever. Then it becomes an ingrained habit that is extremely challenging to say no to. To the extent that people end up eating the bad stuff, not because they are hungry, but the food substitutes for friends, loneliness, boredom, etc.

The worst is soda pop. I can't believe that the AVERAGE consumption rate of pop is GALLONS per year - something like 50 gallons, although that number has decreased. But still - don't drink it - just don't. It's so bad for you, even the diet stuff. It's just evil - the worst thing ever made.

Anyway - it's an interesting read. Thanks to Nancy for the recommendation.

Here are my neighborhood pictures.

Oops - this is what happens when you think that snowman is such a great idea and it's November. But what do you do with him when it's April?? It doesn't look like an inflatable one. This is a townhouse so not a lot of storage. Oh well - Frosty will be waving all year long I think.

Frosty is getting a bit hot

My local grocery store must have started limiting the number of people in the store. On the last three mornings, I've noticed a physical distancing line outside the store. It looks like the people are closer together, but that is their shadows!!! The picture was taken shortly after 8 AM when the store opens and every morning it's like this. I wonder if that line exists all day?

Grocery store line

Life is sure different. There's no question of that. I know my city is patrolling this weekend for people gathering and I see the police almost every afternoon on my walk. But since I'm just gathering with my girls, we are OK.

Hey - I've got some show and tell from the others today.

Tish was working on this wool applique project. I love it - the car is adorable and the snowflakes are very cute. I think it's going to be a wall hanging.

Tish's wool applique project

Lynn finished a baby quilt with leftovers bits.

Lynn's baby quilt
Then she got started on the next project.

Lynn's next project
 Here are some of the components for the new quilt. I love the color of those fabrics!!!!

Lynn's partially completed quilt
Susan was working on an Easter table runner. It's adorable!!

Susan's Easter table runner
 Katheleen was working on the Martha Washington blocks for Snow Days.

Two of the Martha Washington blocks

One more block

No need to panic about the size - it looks close enough 

Paula was busy painting a cabinet in her new sewing room. I guess that counts as retreat work, but I bet it was tough to get that in the car!!!!

Paula's newly painted storage cabinet

And this is another of the cabinets in her new room. I can't wait to see the room when it's done!!  Look at the hardware in that room - the doors. She lives in a beautiful old house.

Another cabinet in Paula's sewing room
Ronda was working on this blue and white quilt. YIKES -- essentially, that's just adding borders upon borders. A LOT of work. I heard that she's pinning every row to make it lie flat. Good job Ronda!!!!

Ronda's project

Me? Oh - I was a busy little bee. I think I've carried this darn quilt to many retreats. This one is on my Dirty Dozen (UFO) list for 2019. Hey - did you notice that I'm working on those UFOs?? Oh yes - these focused days are GREAT and I just need a few more of them and I'm going to get those lists done!!!

This quilt is called Easy Street by Bonnie Hunter. It was her 2012 mystery quilt. Loads of little pieces. I've worked on three of her mysteries. One is completely done and waiting to be quilted. There's this one and one more that I need to work on at some point. While I enjoyed them, I won't do another one. Too much work for a mystery quilt and too many other quilts to make.

The quilt is on point and the four corner triangles were made, as well as four (of 25) blocks. This is what it looked like on the design wall the night before.

I needed to make 16 of these blocks (they are 15"). Four blocks were made. Some of the components of the remaining 12 blocks were made. Note they got laid out on my foam core boards which were the perfect size and happen to be stored in Studio U.

The components for the first block

I needed to make nine of these blocks. The components were made, but still in 25 separate little bits for each block.

The second block

12 setting triangles needed to be made. I found them in a plastic bag like this.

The setting triangles

So I started by organizing them to look like this.

The setting triangles 

See that blue board? That's been tied up for years with this project.

Mini blue design board

Not that I was absolutely missing it since I do have two. I love it so much that when I found another one on sale somewhere (actually, I think it was at Fabricland) at one of our retreats a few years ago, I snatched it up.

Two blue mini design boards

I did have to cut a few additional squares of purple. I guess I can count pieced components, but not squares. No worries as all the fabric for the quilt are still in the project box. That project box took up a LOT of space in the laundry basket as well.

Project box for Easy Street

It's the last day of the retreat and I haven't touched the yoga bag, the backpack, nothing in the panic packed bag (there were three projects in there) and there's one more small project that I haven't touched. I may get to one more project later today. We'll see. So YES - I can survive with a laundry basket of stuff for the next retreat.

I started off by making the setting triangles. This is going to be bright, but it looks awesome. Did I mention that all the seams are twirled on the back? Whose bright idea was that?

Two setting triangles are added

All the setting triangles are made and need to be pressed.

The setting triangles are done

Then I worked on that first block and soon (yeah right) I had the setting triangles, the corner triangles and those 16 blocks on the design wall.

Progress on Easy Street

Then it was onto that last block. I started off by sewing the blocks into rows. Notice they are not pressed yet.

Working on the second block

I was so close to finishing all the blocks when two things happened. One, I sewed a couple of those rows (OK - six of the stupid things) together incorrectly and they had to be ripped out. Then my sixth bobbin ran out. CRAP!!!! 

The 6th bobbin ran out

Instead of cleaning the machine and inserting a new needle, I wound another bobbin and finished the blocks.

And here it is. All the blocks and setting triangles are DONE.

Easy Street

All that remains today is to sew all the blocks and setting triangles together. Then I can decide on a border from the fabrics in the project box. Oh my god - this is eight years old, but guess what? It's going to be done today and I'll get to cross it off the list for 2019. I'm staying at the retreat until it's done. I don't care if Emma comes to kick me out!!!

On that note, I'd better get myself organized. I'm working on the Celebration homework assignment which will be sent out later tonight. Maybe even this morning, I'm almost done. I think they are going to love what I did with the quilt. I'll show you at some point.

Have a super day!!!!