Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Plans vs. Reality!

This past holiday weekend, the plan was for me to stay with two of my darling grandchildren while their mom, our daughter, Mindy, took their two sisters to Camp Surf in CA on a Girl Scout outing.  The trip had been months in the planning and all went well until Thursday evening when Mindy's body decided to try to pass a 7 mil kidney stone.

L on the left was to go on the trip.  Her goal in life, having just turned 10, is to become a professional surfer.  How she will accomplish this while living in the desert is beyond me!  H, on the right was to stay with me along with her brother C2 shown below.

C2 and L just celebrated their birthdays last week. They were born 3 years and 5 days apart so usually share a family birthday party.

A1 was going on the trip as well, but she avoided the camera at the birthday party!

The plan was for me to arrive in time for dinner with Mindy's husband, Mike, and C2 and H.  An early morning phone call from Mike changed that to, "How soon can you get here we are on our way to ER."

By the time I got there, a two hour drive, plus I was not ready to leave when we received the s.o.s. call, surgery had been scheduled and a replacement G.S. leader with CPR training had been found for Mindy.  The girls left several hours later than planned, but there were no disappointed girls except for A1 and L who had thought their mom would be going, too.

The surgery went well and by midnight Mindy was in her own bed with lots of pain meds!

Since things had not gone as planned, at least one of the outings I had planned for the kids got to be shared with Mindy.  Mike was working the weekend so he got left out -- sorry, Mike!

Culver's concretes were a hit with H and C2.

C2 took a photo of a pale, but smiling Mindy and me.  Perhaps a lesson on composition is in order.  The straw does not enhance the photo too much even if it does match my shirt.

The girls enjoyed Camp Surf and L even "caught a wave and rode it in".  A1 is convinced that the sunburn she got will give her skin cancer, but they loved the experience.  Even though Mindy was disappointed as well as in pain, she said the good part was she got to spend some time with her mom.  The next time, though, she wants me to bring my sewing machine and make curtains for the great room.  If I had known in advance that their Internet was out, I would have taken the sewing machine this trip instead of the computer!

Plans don't always work out as we plan, but good times can be had in spite of the change!

Hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend.  Thank you to all of our veterans!


Monday, May 21, 2012

A Little Nostalgia

Once upon a time high school students, especially those college bound or those who intended to work in an office took a class called Typing 101 or something similar.  Today, children who are 3 are most likely proficient on a key board.

In those college days, we had need of a typewriter and the portable typewriter that I had borrowed from my brother needed to go back to him.  So, we bought this.

Yep, it was old even then, but it worked great -- for a manual typewriter.

Fortunately when I took Typing 101, we spent part of our time on manuals as the school only owned a couple of electric typewriters!  Yes, I know I'm dating myself, but our school was also a very small school in a small farming community.  My graduating class had 34 members!

See the little metal carriage return on the left of the typewriter.  Yikes, I was used to a longer one! A bell announced that you had hit the carriage return.  Imagine how that sounded in a room with a LOT of typewriters going at once!

This typewriter is really old, but I could not find a date on it anywhere.  It used a reel to reel silk typewriter ribbon.  If I had one to put in, this typewriter would probably still produce a decent script.

There were two types of font then -- either you had a pica (larger) or an elite (smaller) font.  Electric typewriters, however, could be purchased with different fonts.  The best, in my estimation was an IBM Executive.  The type on those was more like what we see on computers today.  They were, however, a problem if you made a mistake as letters such as an "i" or a "t" took two spaces, while "w" and "M" took 4.  Most of the letters were 3 spaces so you can see the problem.  If you typed an "i" instead of the neighboring "u" there weren't enough spaces to fit it in after you erased and you had to start all over again!  (Yep, that function we have on computers to highlight and delete is a God send!) Most people did not like the Executive typewriter.  I did.  When I changed departments and became the bottom one on the rung of secretaries (yes, we were not called Executive Assistants then) the other "girls" decided I should have the typewriter none of them liked.  I was, of course, delighted!

My laptop will be sitting where the typewriter is, I just thought it would be fun to photograph it in this sort of old fashioned setting.

When the typewriter was new, it might have had one these kerosene lamps sitting next to it.

Maybe it would have had an ink pen and ink well, too.

The book?  Alice in Wonderland, of course!  The "looking glass" that used to be on this vanity is now hanging on the wall.  It was no longer stable on the vanity.

I'll show you this space once it is actually set up as my office.

This weekend the room was used for the grand kids who spent the night.  Most of the time it is empty, though, so it should make a great office.  I have plans to use the spindles that once held the mirror for something else.  Tune back in later to see what.

Hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane.  If you are of a certain age, you may remember that computers used to fill rooms and used punch cards.  They most definitely were not household items.  College students were lucky if they had a typewriter in a case to take to college.  Today, they take a laptop, tablet and a mobile device that works just like a computer!  My how times have changed.  For the better?  Maybe.  What do you think?

Has technology really improved our world or is it just different?



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tool Talk

What are your favorite tools for quilt making?  What are the tools you reach for over and over?

I have a favorite few that I use all the time and would be lost without them.  First there is my computer and computer software -- not just the Electric Quilt software, but lots of general software as well.

Next would be my cameras and the software that they use.  The collage below was something I recently learned to do.  I've been spending Fridays working on some aspect of photography and sneaking in a few minutes here and there to "play" with either the cameras or software, too.

While my phone takes an okay photo, it just doesn't have the flexibility I want in a camera.  I find that the compact camera that I carry in my purse has many more settings and is more adaptable for those quick shots while out and about.  The DSLR I'm still learning to use, but I'm getting some good results with it.  And then there is PhotoShop Elements 10, the software that I cannot live without! Almost all of my photos go through some sort of editing before they go on my blog.

For the actual making of quilts, here are a few of the tools I reach for all the time.

I am not a big fan of specialty rulers.  If I need directions to use it, it's too complicated!  I have a drawer full of them that I bought before I realized I used the basic 12 and 24 inch Omnigrids almost exclusively.  Of course there are a few others I use from time to time.  I'm not going to picture them here for you.

The Bias Square rulers from That Patchwork Place, however, I use almost as much as the Omnigrid rulers.  They are my go to rulers when making half square triangles and if you read me regularly, you know that I LOVE hs triangles and use them in almost every quilt I make.

Of course if you use the rulers, you have to have the cutter to go with them.  These 3 are my favorites.  They are comfortable to use unlike the original Olfa cutters.  If you haven't upgraded yet, do yourself a favor and try a newer version of rotary cutter.  There are others that are probably just as good, these are just my favorites so I see no need to buy different brands to try them.

And, then there are the mats.  In addition to the large one that is always on my cutting table, I have several other sizes and versions.  This one rotates to accommodate cutting different angles.

This was a gift and I absolutely love it!  Thank you, Becky!

This is a portable tool that serves 3 purposes.  The outside is a pressing surface.

Inside there is a sandpaper side for use with applique and a small Olfa cutting board.  I made this several years ago and it's great for taking on the road or even just to the family room to work on my lap.  There are marks on the sandpaper from one of my favorite making tools - a white gel pen that I use to mark lines on dark fabrics that I plan to hand piece.

Masking tape is a multiuse tool.  I've used it for marking stitching lines on a quilt while handstitching.  I also use it on the ruler when I'm marking a line which works better for me.  I have a lot of different widths tape so I can mark different sizes of straight lines to quilt.

If you sew, you usually end up ripping, too, at some point.  Several years ago I bought these two brass pieces.  One is a seam ripper and the other a stilleto.  If you are still using the same seam ripper you got when you were in Junior High, do yourself a favor and get a new one!  They do get dull.  This brass one has a removeable "blade" so you can replace just the blade part, though I've never done that.  I do have a few other cheapo seam rippers, this one "lives" next to the sewing machine.

And, of course, the sewing machine is the biggest tool and most likely the most expensive.  I love my Bernina 1230 and use it most of the time.  It is about 18 years old and still runs great.  A little preventative maintenance now and then goes a LONG way to keeping a machine humming.  I was shocked when I went to a sewing machine/vacuum store when we lived in AL and asked for sewing machine oil.  The employee or maybe it was the owner told me that no one used it any more so he no longer carried it.  WHAT!  I know that some of the newer computerized machines may not need oil, but most of us have other machines that need a bit now and then.  I use it almost every time I change bobbins as I clean the lint out and take the bobbin completely out to put a drop of oil on the metal part where it sits and does it's job of rocking back and forth.  Makes sense to me -- it's a moving part.  I leave the insides of the machine to the expert, but the bobbin maintenance is my job.

So, now that I've shown you a few of my favorite tools (yes, I know I did not mention anything about scissors - they need a post of their own!) please tell me what your favorite, go to tools are for quilt making or other sewing tasks.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tutorial - Half Square Triangles using Triangle Paper

A while back I showed you how to make a lot of half-square triangle units using the bias square method.  One of the other ways I like to make half-square triangle units is using triangle paper.  There are a few brands, but I'm only showing you two as the rest are basically the same process.

I actually use 5 different ways to make half-square triangle units depending on the number and size I need.  Using triangle paper is an easy way to make a lot of units using either the same fabric or a lot of different fabrics for a scrap type quilt.  Remember you can cut the paper apart to use scraps and even precut strips.  In fact, Thangles, the brand I am NOT showing is designed to use precut fabric strips.  With Triangles on a Roll and Triangulations, all you have to do is cut the paper before placing it on your fabric to use it for strips or for smaller scraps of fabric.

This Ocean Waves quilt was made using triangle paper.  These units are about 1-1/4" square.  For this large a quilt, that was sort of crazy, but I love this quilt and it hangs in our loft all the time.

The first step is to choose what triangle paper you want to use.  Triangles on a Roll come in a variety of sizes.  I've used these a lot and love them.  The disadvantage comes when you do not have the size you want on hand and the quilt shop may or may not have the size you need either.

The second paper I'm showing you today is Triangulations by Brenda Henning.  It is computer software that you purchase and then you can select almost any size you want to print on your own computer.  Be sure to follow the printing directions for if you do not you might not have the correct size printed.  You must select that you do not want your printer to scale it.  It is best if you use paper designed for paper piecing, but you can use regular 8-1/2 x 11 printer paper -- it is just a bit harder to remove.  The version of Triangulations I have is 2, but with the newer version, you also get quarter square triangles.  That is a major improvement, I would say!

For the actual making of the triangles units, both papers work the same way.

First layer your dark and light fabrics right sides together with the light fabric on top.

Keep the size of the fabrics about a fat eighth. If you try to have too long a piece, it becomes a problem when you stitch.  You can cut the paper into strips of squares for smaller precut strips of fabric or for scraps.  You will always cut on the SOLID line on both of these papers.  The dotted lines are for stitching.

Pin the paper to the fabric so it will not shift.

Pin where you will not be stitching as shown above.

This is just one strip of Triangles on a Roll.  For the 1-1/2" finished triangle units, a precut 2-1/2" strip of fabric fits nicely.  If you have a small square or rectangle of fabric, you could cut whatever size you need from the triangle paper as long as you cut on the solid lines.

Triangles on a roll have 3 rows across and as long as you want it to be.  I use shorter and you will see why later.  You will want your fabric lightly wider and longer than the size paper you cut from the roll.

Triangulations also prints out the same configuration for the 1-1/2" finished half-square triangle units.  That means you will need just over 8-1/2 x 11 of the fabrics as well.  I always have the fabric slightly larger than the paper.  This will trim off later.  This is a good size to work with for ease in stitching and will result In 24 half-square triangle units.  Other sizes of units, obviously print out in different configurations.

Select a short stitch length before you begin to stitch. I use the 1-1/2 setting on my Bernina 1230.

You will stitch on the dotted lines.  Note that on a strip, you may not always be able to stitch in the direction of the arrows.  This is NOT a problem, just continue to stitch on the dotted line and it will work out in the end.

You can see in this photo why a longer piece of fabric could be a problem as it would need to be rolled when the larger portion goes in the arm of the machine.  If you are using stiffer paper, it might distort your stitching line and you don't want that.

The strip and the larger sheets are all stitched and ready to cut apart.  This is where the magic begins to happen!

Cut the excess on the outside edges first.

Cut the long strips first

Then turn them sideways to cut into squares.  You may want to use the lines on your mat to help guide you.

Once you have cut the squares, you can again use the lines on the mat to line up the next cut.

Place your ruler on the diagonal line to cut the squares into triangles.

By cutting several at a time, this process goes faster.

Fold the paper on the stitch line to make it easier to remove.

This is TV or telephone work to me.  Pull off the paper.

Next check the size and rotary cut the dog ears.

You are now ready to press the seams.

I know it's against the "rules", but I often press open especially on the smaller hs triangle units.

See what a nice unit you get with this method!

I usually check to make sure the unit measures what it should.  In this case, two inches for a 1-1/2" finished hs triangle unit.  Perfect!  If not, trim the slivers off, you will be glad when you start sewing the units together!

And there you have it.  A lot of half square triangles in just a few minutes of stitching time.  Those little stacks above are 56 half square triangle units done very quickly.

Hope you will give this method a try.



Saturday, May 12, 2012

More About Mom

Mom crocheted, quilted and sewed.  She was a top notch cook as well and she helped Dad with the farming during the growing and harvesting seasons.  She also was a gardener and grew both vegetables and flowers. She was tireless it seemed.

One of the quilts that Mom quilted and gave to me had been pieced by my grandmother from scraps that Mom had given her.  I recognize some of the fabrics as having been used for dresses for Mom, my sister and me.  It is a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt which is fitting since Grandma and Mom both worked on it.  I don't know if Grandma made any other quilts, but this one is special to me.  It has been used and our younger daughter slept under it many years. Unfortunately, she also suffered nose bleeds and the damage was not always discovered early enough to get the stain out.  A busy quilt hides many sins! 

Mom also crocheted the lace bedspread draped over the end of the day bed.

Usually another quilt is on this bed as it has been the grand kid guest room and this one is too delicate for use.  I found a spot that I need to mend on one end when I put it on the bed.

Here is a closer view of those 50's & 60's fabrics and a closer look at the wonderful pink roses that are in the bedspread.

The dust ruffle is recycled from one that was on our older daughter's bed.  Day beds need one long side and two short sides -- just the opposite of regular beds.  The fabric is sort of like a dotted Swiss, but not exactly.  It needed the deep hem as it is quite sheer.

The teddy bear on this little night stand was given to me by my friend, Diane, when my mother died.  She thought I might want something to hug -- she was right!  The teddy bear is made from a quilt beyond repair -- a cutter quilt, beyond use on a bed, but not beyond use!

Don't you love the little Lucille Ball head vase?  These are from the same era as the quilt fabrics in the hexagon quilt.

I have decided to make use of this room as an office since the grand kids don't use it all that much anymore.  It will give me more room in my studio since I won't have to have the computer on the same L-shaped desk that I use for the sewing machine.  It will be much better when I'm quilting on a large quilt to have the extra surface.  I'll show you more of the room as the changes from child's guest room to a feminine office take place.

Friends, I hope you all have a wonderful Mother's Day!

You never get over being a child 'long as you have a mother to go to.
--Sarah Orne Jewett



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Beads of Courage!

Sunday evening we had the opportunity to go see two of our grandchildren perform in a Gloree Musical.  Gloree is a first through fifth grade choir at Pantano Christian Church in Tucson, AZ.

We go the back way and there is a whole lot of this!

And a few of these.

Too bad there isn't a tunnel where that trail is!

But there is no way except to go around to get to the East side of Tucson!

The reward finally comes when we see these kids performing for a cause.  Beads of Courage is an organization that provides comfort to kids with cancer through beads.  You really need to read all about this organization here.  It was started at Phoenix Children's Hospital by a nurse and is now in hospitals all over the country!

The sweet girl in the white shirt with a scarf around her pony tail is granddaughter H.
She's kind of cute, huh?  Of course, I may be a tad bit prejudiced.

Granddaughter L was a bit harder to see.  She's the one in the white shirt with the black tank top under it -- standing in back of taller kids! She's kind of cute too!

Ah, there is a better look at her.  The lady in front of me kept moving her head so I had a really hard time focusing on L.

There's a shot of the banner for Beads of Courage.

There were other cute kids, too.  What do you think, future rock star?

These kids really get into their rolls or is it rock and rolls?  The music was from the 50"s, 60"s, 70's and 80's -- something for everyone!

Can you do that with your arms?  Note the cute pink tutu.
Also a little bit of hair on the lower left - she moved her head!

Maybe the scarf would make a better babushka!

But, these kids!  These fantastic kids raised over $4,000 for Beads of Courage!  Isn't that something!

All I can say is WOW to the performance and the fundraising!

Oh, sorry about the head in the last photo -- I told you she kept moving her head!

Hope you enjoyed this little departure to see some kids doing something worthwhile.  We hear too much about the "bad" kids, here's a bunch of good ones!