Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Virtual Retreat - Day Four

What can I say? It was another AMAZING day of fun and frivolity at the Virtual Sewing Retreat. As much as I LOVE going to the real retreat, the Virtual one has a totally different flavor, and we have people dropping in from all over. Nina from Germany was back, and we had Daphne join us from Vancouver Island. And then a lot of others joined in and out throughout the day. I finally had to "kick" them off the call way past the initially planned closing time! But that was OK -- it was loads of fun.

If you get a chance to pop in today to say hi, the link for today's meeting is at the bottom of this post.

I have a couple of pictures to share with you from the group before we get started. And there'll be more pictures to come. We saw some GREAT ideas for sewing rooms and storage, and I asked for photos to share.

Here's a picture of Nina's house. This is actually her weekend home. NOW before you go crazy with envy, the house, which HUNDREDS of years old, is split into 10 small apartments. So if you think you have a little cottage in cottage country here in Canada - think again! The apartment is basically one room with a small kitchen area and a tiny bathroom.

Nina's weekend house

So if you live in a tiny place like that and your husband comes home from a run and wants to change, and you're participating in a Zoom meeting. Hmmm - and we think we have challenges. NO - we were not flashed, but it was pretty funny! Did you notice how steep the hill is that the house is sitting on? It's just so different from where we live! I love Germany and would like to go back. Perhaps now is the time! But social distancing, of course!  Thanks for sharing Nina!!!!

Here are the other two quilts that Fran sent me. I LOVE the string quilt. You can never go wrong with a string quilt, and the color choices and combinations are endless.

Fran's string quilt

And look at this one. It's stunning. I bet there's a lot of embellishment on this one - either with thread or markers. But those birch trees are gorgeous.

Fran's birch tree quilt

Thanks for sharing those photos, Fran. Your work is GORGEOUS.

What did I work on? I was going to start my totally prepped yoga bag, but instead, I decided to get those bindings on the stack of quilts that have been waiting to be finished.

I started with something small. This is a table topper that I taught as part of our quilting series a couple of years ago. The top had been quilted but not bound. Now it's finished. It was quilted entirely with free-motion, but some of the seam lines between the green and white didn't lie as flat as I would like, so I stitched in the ditch around all the green. Using the Stitch in the Ditch foot on the PFAFF creative icon with the built-in walking foot was so easy!!!!

Table topper - DONE

Then it was onto the next quilt, which was that small doggie print quilt.

Binding is completed on the doggie quilt 

Hey - this is working out great, even though I had to change threads in the top and bobbin for each project.

The next one was the donation quilt for Quilts of Valour. I was carefully watching the amount of thread left in the bobbin as the sensor had alerted me that I was almost out of thread. Did I notice that the top thread was nearly finished as well? Nope - not until it ran out!! I didn't have more of the same color, but that was OK. I found something similar, and I was back in business.

Empty spool!

So that quilt got bound and is tucked away to be dropped off, hopefully, next week.  I have a couple more quilts to get quilted for Quilts of Valour before that drop off happens! It would appear that I slacked off this past month! Oh well - not worried in the least.

Quilts of Valour quilt - DONE

 Back to one of my quilts. This is a small Christmas wall hanging I quilted a while back. The binding is now on that one as well.

Christmas quilt - DONE 

Since it's a wall hanging, it needs a sleeve. It's hard to see in the photo, but I added two separate sleeves to the back. This project would have been a perfect candidate for those corner triangles to create the hanging mechanism, but well, the binding was already partially on when I thought of it. Too late. I had already made a label for it, which I believe I shared a while back. The date on the label???? Only 2009!!!   It doesn't matter - this is ONE more project that is done!

The label and the sleeve are done!

I have two more projects that need the binding sewn in place. I was going to work on something else today, but I think I might just tackle those two projects first. Get them out of the way.

I did take a break from binding, and early in the morning, I had dug out the little tote bags that someone had made using that Crafty Bear fabric. Remember my tote bags from the previous day? There's a whole story behind this fabric, and once I get the remainder of the pictures, I'll share the story. Anyway, this bag had a pink zipper. NO big deal, but not my thing.

A pink zipper?
This was the inside of the bag. It was tough to take a picture of the bag, but it was called the Humbug bag, and it was a weird shape. It was the way the two side seams were stitched. One seam was sewn with the zipper at the top end of the seam, and the other seam was sewn with the zipper in the center of the side seam, so it looked like a 3-D triangle. I never liked them. Well, I guess I did at one point, but not anymore. They are just too weird to use. 

As I searched for that link, I happened upon a FIFTEEN-minute tutorial to make that bag. This was and perhaps still is a "for purchase" pattern. With all these tutorials, why would I want to buy the pattern? That's something to think about. While I'm all about free stuff, perhaps there's too much free???

The inside of the zippered pouch

So I ripped, and I ripped, and I ripped TWO of those bags apart. I found some more effective interlinings last night to use, and my intention is to remake the bags as ordinary zippered pouches.

A lot of ripping occurred to create this pile of threads

That's one of the reasons why I don't get a lot done - well, I do, but you know what I mean. If I'm not happy with something, I'll take it apart. But we won't go there. I find it so therapeutic to rip apart, especially if it wasn't my mistake that I'm ripping out! NO - I'm not for hire! It's a great way to spend time while chatting, and the Zoom meetings are perfect for that!!!  So they could give me a seam ripper and some stuff to rip out when I'm in the nursing home. OH - don't give me a seam ripper. I'll be like a little kid with scissors. I'll be going around to all the other people's rooms and ripping out the quilts I don't like! Better not give me that seam ripper after all!!!!

For all of us who were in and out of Zoom all day, the internet connection was pretty darn good. I'm working out of Studio B, and the internet hub is on the main floor, so a wee bit of trouble with my audio at certain times. What I need is to be hardwired into that hub. Do I have any cables? Not likely as during one of my clean up sessions, I decided that we had no use for that kind of stuff, and it likely went to the e-waste dump. I did find one cable, but I think it's too short!!!

A cable, but a bit too short to run downstairs

It'll be very inconvenient to run a cable down the stairs, so I think I'll call my internet provider and see what they can do for me so I can hardwire into the service from Studio B. I'd like to hardwire from upstairs as well. I wonder how busy they are these days???

I want to share with you the perfect reason why we have design walls. I ran out of the blue fabric on the outer two sides of this block. I briefly rifled through the blue fabric bin and found the small piece on the right. Looking at it on the table, it appeared to be a good match. But putting it up on the wall, it's a bit too light.

The fabric on the left is too light

I found another fabric and put that on the design wall. Oh - this one is much better. Not perfect, but better.

Not perfect, but better

And then I found this third fabric. OK - that's way too dark. It wasn't easy to see these contrasts in value when they were sitting right in front of me. Put them on a design wall? Oh yes - totally easy to decipher. So when in doubt - hang it up and step back. That's how you'll see it in your quilt.

The fabric on the right is too dark!

So we started this post in Germany, and we're ending it in Saskatchewan. Here's my daily picture. I'm just east of Maymont now. And yes, there are trees in Saskatchewan. Not big ones and not many, but there are trees!!!

East of Maymont on Highway 16

This is the last time I'll see the reference to my tiny little hamlet. I don't have a picture to share with you, but I'm going to try and find one looking towards the river but from the other side of the river. It's spectacular, and every time I was at the farm, I took the same photo. But from our house, we would look east, and we could see the town of Maymont. There was a LARGE grain elevator as the reference point. Those elevators are all long gone, or maybe one is still there. But on the horizon, you knew where Maymont was because of the elevator. Ah, such great memories. I'm so glad, I could arrange my Cross Canada walk through this area and get to see it on Google maps. You can't beat technology!!!!

My position on the map 

What better way to finish off a Virtual Retreat Day, but to share a glass of wine with friends!!! It was such fun!!!  So as mentioned, if you want to join in the fun today - and today is the LAST day, log into the Zoom meeting and at least say HI!!!

Raise a glass of cheer to friends!!!

Here's the link to today's meeting.   Sunday, May 31st Meeting   From 9 AM EST to 8 PM EST

Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 861 2992 3754 Password: 628655

We have had so much fun with the Virtual Retreat that - guess what? Yep - this is going to become an ongoing thing. It'll be only ONE day per month, and I need to schedule out those dates. But we got to meet so many great people that we would never have met if we were at our real retreat, and we've been able to catch up and stay in touch. It's - well, I just LOVE IT!!!!  Thanks to everyone who joined in yesterday. I don't even know how many there were because they popped in and out all day long!!!

Have a super day!!!!!


Saturday, May 30, 2020

Virtual Sewing Retreat - Day Three

H MY GOD -- we had so much fun yesterday at the Virtual Sewing Retreat. Fran from Sudbury poped in, Mary from Scarborough, Carol from Parry Sound, Susan from London, and many others more local and are too numerous to mention. Sorry!!!  But what a fun time. OK - so I didn't get a lot of sewing done, and I'm perfectly OK with that. 

It was great to actually have a NORMAL conversation with a group. I love it!!!!

We got to see other people's sewing rooms, projects, pets, and a whole lot of stuff. We got to sew some blast from the past projects. Shoot - I didn't ask Carol to send me pictures of her stuff. I'll do that today! Oh, what fun!!!!

Fran has been working like mad during the shutdown, and her stuff is gorgeous. She sent me some pictures to share with you.

I love this one. It's made with hexies that are "floating" on the surface and get tacked down during the quilting process. I'd like to make one of these quilts someday!!!  Did you notice that it's quilted and bound??? I don't think she has any UFOs.

Fran's hexie quilt

This is a paper pieced project. I CANNOT remember the name, but I believe it was a sew-along. Look at the colors. This is just stunning. You know me and scrap quilts - I love them.

Fran's scrap paper pieced quilt

And then she showed us her Dream Big panel. It's gorgeous. This was done FREEHAND on a domestic machine. We saw her quilting at her sewing machine, so we know this for a fact. The quilting is fabulous! I bet one of the hardest parts was choosing the design to go in each petal. Oh, shoot - I didn't ask how many thread colors she used.

Fran's Dream Big panel

I have a couple more of her quilts to share, but they need to be rotated, and I don't have time for that this morning. Fran -- it was so lovely to chat yesterday, and thanks for sharing!!!!

I started my day off by making up some tea bags for the week. It made me think of people who rolled their own cigarettes. I dumped the bag of loose tea into a bowl, got out the tea bag filters and the spoon. Soon enough, I had a stash of tea bags to put in my small tea chest.

Making tea bags
I don't usually make tea bags, but I have no problem doing it. We have a "few" small containers of loose tea. Now for the tea snobs amongst us, they would probably tell me that the tea is too old and stale. My palette is NOT sophisticated enough for that, and the tea tastes just fine by me. The trick for most of these teas - DO NOT use boiling water. I love the taste of the teas, and I'm using up the stuff in the cupboard. I'm happy. It won't take much to keep me happy in that nursing home.

 Then it was down to work. I was determined to finish those bags if it killed me. I started off by going on a shopping spree. I have THREE boxes of accessories for bags. Clasps, handles, and other stuff.

Three boxes of bag accessories

What is nice is that now that everything has a home (more or less), I feel confident that when I shop through these boxes, that I see everything I have in this department. Just like in a real store!!!

Oh - the things that I found! I found another set of beige handles that will work perfectly. So I scooped those up before anyone else could!

A stash of handles
I even found handles with the bill still attached. Note the date on the receipt - April 4, 2009. I just shake my head! BUT it's all good because I have handles to use for my bag, although I could have made handles from fabric. I did NOT use the handles attached to this receipt.

A receipt for bag handles from 2009!!!!!!

This is a view inside the other two boxes of handles. Holy - there's a lot of stuff in there. A while back, I did put like items in plastic bags, but a few more bits have been added since. It would take about five minutes to dump all three boxes and make sure that everything is in the appropriate plastic bag. Then it would be even faster to shop.

Inside the other two boxes of bag accessories

Look what else I found in there. These are the plastic bag bottoms that were designed for the company whose pattern I'm using. Well - I might as well use those. I had one already with the unfinished bags, and I found one more in the right size. The two smaller ones went back into my supply box.

Plastic bag bottoms
I did have to make one more bottom out of corrugated plastic. Now here's the thing. I much prefer the corrugated plastic over the purchased bottoms. Why? For one thing - they are much LIGHTER. Second, I found the bag bottoms could have been ½" longer to fit perfectly in the bottom of the bag. I find they shift around because they are slightly too small. And I find they are very slippery, so when you make the fabric envelope to cover the bottom, it's too slippery. That doesn't happen with the corrugated plastic.

I'm so glad I found that solution, and it's free - I just walked to the garage store and selected a piece of corrugated plastic and cut it up to make my own. Now, I made it the SAME size as the purchased ones, and I could kick myself that I didn't measure. Live and learn!!!

By the way, those purchased bottoms were $11 EACH!!!!  My corrugated plastic? Free!

The price of the plastic bottom

While I was searching, I also found two packages of interfacing, specially designed for bag handles. Hmmm - those packages were $9 each!!! The old me would have put them back in the box, and I decided NO - it's time to use them.

Package of bag handle interfacing

So while it was super easy to use, there were a couple of things that I did NOT like. Of course - I'm such an old dog - you do NOT want to try and teach me a new trick. Unless I'm the one who wants to learn the new trick. I"m just like my MOM!!!   😃😃

There must have been 6 feet of interfacing in each package. So you fused it to the wrong side of the 2" wide strap for your handle. Big red flag - two inches is NOT wide enough for a decent bag strap. But I was following the directions. Then I folded the long edges in. I will admit that it was a HUGE time saver. But then what???  There were two raw edges down the entire length of the handle. That is NOT a sturdy handle. Nothing gets me going like a WIMPY handle on a bag. Oh - I should do an entire blog post about wimpy bag handles. Here's a heads up - I'm going to do an online class on making bags. But I digress.

You're supposed to sew some trim over the two raw edges. Well, I don't have trim -well, I might have trim that would have worked, but I didn't want that. So instead, I took another 2" strip and created another handle and topstitched the two pieces together. One package was NOT enough to do the two widths of fabric. I was short by this much, so I dug into the other package of bag handle interfacing.

Making handles with bag handle interfacing

I have enough for one more pair of shorter handles, and that's it - I won't buy that stuff again!!!  Great concept, but not practical. And I like a wee bit wider strap and MORE substantial than I got even with doubling it like I did.

Look what else I found in the accessory box - a gorgeous orange shoulder step that matched the fabric, but I wasn't going to use that strap on those bags. That's for another project!!!!

Orange leather strap matches the fabric perfectly

So what did actually get accomplished amidst all the chatter? 

Here are my three bag bottoms.

Three bag bottoms - DONE!
I topstitched the tabs for the purchased handles for two of the bags.

Topstitching tabs for the purchased handles
I'm sewed the tabs on the bag. Yikes - that is a LOT of layers to go through. But the PFAFF creative icon went through with no problem. That's something like 24 layers of fabric at the highest point. I might rethink how those tabs fit on the next time. I may have used a WEE bit too much interfacing.

Stitching the tabs in place

I don't know how many times I had to sew on the tabs or the handles. I sewed them to the inside of the bag when they should have been on the outside. And then one of the handles was twisted. Oh yes- it wasn't fun, but I was chatting so much, it didn't surprise me!!!

Honestly, I was OK with not getting a lot done. Quilting is a social hobby, and well - we've been missing the social part of it. I'm in catch up mode!!!!

Here are my THREE almost completed bags.

Bag number one with purchased handles

Bag number two with fabric handles

Bag number three with purchased handles

And what was I thinking because I already had a finished bag kicking around!!!!

Bag number four with purchased handles

I mean - I had some serious issues back then. One was never enough. I needed MULTIPLES of everything!! Thank goodness those days are behind me.

So what didn't get done? The flap on the bag that you can see above. The Velcro is already in place on the other three tote bags, so it's not like I can leave the flap off. But when I went to my box where the Velcro is stored, I couldn't find the box of beige Velcro. It looks like this one, but this one is for the black Velcro. That means the box of beige Velcro is in the house somewhere. I did search last night but haven't found it yet, so I'm going to do a wee bit of searching today to see if I can unearth it. It's likely in a box with another bag project. GRRRRRRR   - why did I do that????  I also have a box of white Velcro, and it's also missing.

Box of black Velcro

This is the pattern I used for the bags - The Miranda Bag by Lazy Girl. It's a great bag.

The Miranda Day Bag

A bunch of us were yakking past 8 PM last night, and I finally had to shut the call down at 8:30, so I could get my steps in. I got a little over 6 miles in for the day. I'm behind, but I'll make it up next week.

Here's the shot of Highway 16 east of the Battlefords.

Highway 16 east of the Battlefords

 And here's the map view. I'm making progress. It's a long road!!!

My position on the map

Phew - well, I see I'd better run. I can't wait to see who pops into the Zoom Virtual Sewing Retreat today. Remember, it's open for ANYONE. I love meeting new people, and I was so glad to see some new faces. Quilting is all about socializing, and since we're social distancing, this is a GREAT alternative.

Here's the link for today - SATURDAY, May 30.

Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 827 3564 3607 Password: 277672

Have a super day, and see you on ZOOM.


Friday, May 29, 2020

The Virtual Retreat - Day Two

he who
I love hosting the Virtual Retreat!!!  Now that my commitments are out of the way, I can actually enjoy the entire day!!!

I finished the editing and presentation prepping in the early morning. When I did start the retreat at 9 AM, it was to get the binding and the sleeve on the magazine quilt.

The quilt got packed in a box, and then I went to print the labels for shipping the box. Oh, boy - that was an experience. It's super easy to put all the information into the online form, but when I went to print, I was told the printer was OFFLINE. OH NO. Then I had to run around the house, upstairs and downstairs to get the printer to work.

I ended up saving the label as a PDF and sending it to my other computer. And all the while, there are people on the Zoom call! It was funny, and yet it wasn't. The label got taped to the box, and the box got placed on the front step. HEY -- this is super easy!! I used to have to run to the UPS store and wait 10 minutes for them to generate the paperwork. Now I do it myself, and I swear it's cheaper!

It just so happened that I had a delivery from UPS in the afternoon and so they picked up the package at the same time! This is one positive thing that came from self-isolation. I don't see myself ever going to the UPS store to ship boxes anymore!

Then it was time for my presentation, which went well. I still need to do some tweaking, but overall it went smoothly with all the technology, etc.

At last, I was able to work on my own stuff, and what was I going to choose? Well, I was working on those tote bags, and I'm not switching tasks until the current project is complete.

Once I got myself to work, it really didn't take long before the bags were assembled. One of them was already together, and I finished off the other two. I had to stitch all the pocket dividers in place and then sewed the lining and the outer bag and then joined the two. The top edge is topstitched. I'm thrilled with them. But seriously, those bags, or parts of the bags, have sat in that laundry basket for YEARS. All it took was about 3 hours to get them to this stage. I hang my head in shame! I don't mean that in a negative way - it just boggles my mind at how easy it was for me to abandon projects and then never get back to them.

Three tote bags in progress

That matched up rather nicely!!!

Excellent matching of seams on the side of one of the bags

Here's the inside of the bag. It's hard to see, but there are lots of handy pockets for little things. I must remember to ask Carol what year it was that we worked with this fabric.

Inside the bag
What remains to be done? I have to make the bottom insert and sleeves (for the insert) for all three. The flaps and some sort of handle also have to be prepared for all three. That's my focus today. If I only get those three bags complete at this retreat? I'll be a happy camper. My goal is to get them done today, so I can move onto something else. Oh, yes - my yoga bag!!!

We're having so much fun with the Virtual Retreat. At one point, I remarked to one of the ladies that it was like a Sit n Sew day. Except better! We got to see people's studios, we got to see Nina's house in Germany! Oh my gosh - Nina - thanks so much for logging in. It was great to meet you!!! We've seen inside sewing studios, watched the progress on various projects, including Karen, who is longarming a quilt. The quality of the video and audio is pretty darn good. And Paula baked cookies the other day while she was logged in! Now that was painful as we couldn't sample the cookies!

We've been learning how guilds in various parts of the country are coping with meetings or lack thereof. We've learned what the current situation is really like in Germany. Anything and everything is a valid topic! It's been great fun!!! And there are still three more days!!!!

Here's the link for TODAY. FRIDAY, May 29th.

 Join Zoom Meeting 9 AM --- 8 PM EST Meeting ID: 811 2463 4129 Password: 910014
So if you're sewing alone at home or just want to pop in to say hi, we'd love to see you!!!!!  If you're not familiar with Zoom, you can access it on your smartphone, your tablet, or your computer. Just click the link above, and if you have Zoom, you'll be connected. If you don't have Zoom, you'll be able to download it. The best part???  It's totally FREE. I have a paid subscription, but for you to join my meeting? - totally free.

I love this shot. That's my computer screen at the end of the day, and I'm sewing the bags together. You can just see the top of my head as the bag was in the way!!!

Me on the Zoom meeting

I walked six miles yesterday. I need at least 7 to stay on track for the walk across Canada, so I'm behind about 4 miles at this point. No worries - I'll make it up next week!

I try to do the same walk every night, and I pass this house where a guy is working on a bicycle. Last week, he was scraping the blue paint off of a bike frame. His wife was sitting in a big comfy chair in the driveway on her phone while he worked.

Two nights ago, the bike frame was hanging from a tree as he painted it. And again last night, it was hanging from the same tree as he gave it another coat of PINK paint. I'm guessing the bike is for his wife, not himself!!

Bike frame hanging from the tree

If it's hanging tonight, I'll try to get a closer picture. I don't want people to think I'm weird because I'm taking pictures of their stuff!

At one point, I got a text yesterday saying that a certain someone in the house had knocked down one of my design walls in the bathroom upstairs. Oops - I forgot that I had moved one board in front of the door. Oh well, it was time to pick those blocks up anyway. I may decide to put that quilt together on the weekend. No idea - I'm just sewing and having fun!


I should mention that we're good listeners as well. One of the ladies who signed in, needed an ear to vent her frustration. We let her get it out of her system, and when we chatted yesterday, she felt so much better. I'm glad we could help. It's not healthy for you to be sitting alone day after day. OH - and the other thing I learned yesterday is about Stephanie and Gillian, a couple who have retired early and are traveling the world. I haven't had a lot of time to check out their web site, but this sounds amazing! I think they have some videos or podcasts. I need to check it out as the whole lifestyle sounds fascinating.

Speaking of traveling, here's the picture from Highway 16 today. Gosh - that looks just like the picture from yesterday! Oh wait - there's a wee bit of scrub brush on the side of the road up ahead!

On the road east of the Battlefords

Here's a picture of the map. See all those roads - those are gravel roads. Not paved roads. When I moved to Ontario, I thought I was - well, I don't know, but there are NOT many unpaved roads in Ontario. Which is excellent for cyclists, but what about the cost?

A map of the area where I grew up

You have to love the detail on these maps! I know I'm crazy, but I'm totally fascinated by the whole technology thing and what's available for us! Who needs TV when there are all kinds of fun things to explore. I try to very conscious of how much time I spend on the computer as well because that can be even worse than TV!!

Here's the bigger picture. This is probably the closest I'm going to get to the homestead (that sounds so pioneer), so you get two maps today. I have to say that I did NOT know there was a big island in the middle of the river near where I grew up! We NEVER went to the river. At least I never did. Not once!! I suppose we could have walked or ridden our bikes, but that would have been a bit of a hike.

Making progress on the Cross Canada tour

I got more paperwork cleared up this morning. I only have two bits of paperwork to finish this weekend (both are overdue), and then I'm up to date. Then it'll be time to start the process all over again!! Oh well, that's what keeps me sane. That's what keeps me busy and having fun at the same time.

Don't forget, today is the LAST day of my QUILTsocial blog posts. Check it out!! So many different ways to learn!  There are FIVE great tips for learning. Learning ANYTHING. You must check them out because I think they are critical to our sewing processes!!

So - if you need someone to chat with today, join us for the Zoom Virtual Retreat. It's a load of fun, very informative, and inspiration all at the same time.

Here's the link one more time for FRIDAY, May 29th!!!  Everyone is welcome!

 Join Zoom Meeting 9 AM --- 8 PM EST Meeting ID: 811 2463 4129 Password: 910014

Have a super day!!!!!