Saturday, January 28, 2023

Back in the Saddle

 Now that I’ve completed my New Owner classes for my new sewing machine “Nina”, a Bernina 570QE (Quilters Edition), I feel as though the machine and I are working well together and I’m back up to speed. I was frustrated because I didn’t have a walking foot that came with this machine. About mid-week I finally remembered that when I traded in my old machine, they had me keep my walking foot and all its accessories. Hmmmm…. Where did I put that????

After a little straightening of the messy sewing area behind my sewing seat, I found my walking foot! But that was already after I had sewn the binding on my second Zipper quilt (pictures coming below) with the quarter-inch foot using dual feed and sewn the binding on the second quilt with a zipper foot. Hey, that actually worked great!

But now I’ve got my beloved walking foot back, and everything is right as rain!

First up this week is the Zipper Quilt. This is my second one of these (can’t get enough of these blocks). It’s Lynn Dykstra’s Zip Block, and all credit goes to her. It finished at 52.5x61.5, a good-sized personal lap quilt. It’s going into my personal giveaway pile. 

Zipper Quilt #3 is all cut out and will be started later this spring.  I just love the riot of color, and find the Zip Block to be a great use of 2” scraps. 

The next finish was this 9-block quilt made of donated quilt blocks. Well, I made one (the Dutchman’s Puzzle block in the top center) to round out the number needed for this quilt. Next week I’ll show the 12-block quilt made with the rest of these blocks.

This little number measures 38.5 x42.5”.

Here’s a shot of the background fabric I used from my stash. It was also used in the Dutchman’s Puzzle block. While it isn’t a Fig Tree fabric, I believe it plays very nicely with the rest. 

The majority of this week’s sewing time was spent planning and executing the following quilt top from my dark and bright blue scraps. That’s the January color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. There was obviously some assistance from the dark green scrap bin as well as 10 blocks from the block orphanage.

Out of my various scraps I made 9-patch blocks from the 3.5” squares (some light blue sneaked in there for contrast) - six of those in the center column. That was flanked by a 1.5” dark blue strip on either side. Then from 4.5” and 2.5” squares I made four-in-four blocks, adding in an 8” orphan block on each side. Again, two vertical sashings (3.5” this time) were added. Finally, I finished out with a 6” column of blocks on each side: rail fence blocks, two Twin Sisters blocks, strings, and more. The finished top measures 44.5” x 60.5”.  I’m calling this another “Creature Quilt”, because it’s like Frankenstein’s monster - miscellaneous parts stitched together. What shall we call it? Creature From the Blue Lagoon or Creature from the Blue Scrap Bin? LOL

I’m still working away at Weight Watchers (WW) and have lost all my Covid weight gains and more. I’m now down approximately 33 pounds (lowest weight since summer 2018), and have arrived at what I consider my true starting point. 32 more pounds to goal, and then I’d like to go 10-20 under that. One day at a time. In the meantime, I’ve given away or worn out some of my “fat” clothes - just in time! I’ve also been shopping over the last month at brick-and-mortar stores and online to buy new makeup, new earrings, and finally some new tops. I even got two new sundresses for summer that look fine now, but will be even better if I can drop another 8-10 pounds before summer. I still need to add new pants and shoes, but I’m going to wait for spring before tackling that.

My friend Ruby gets back from Egypt and Jordan today, but she’ll most likely spend Sunday sleeping instead of sewing with us. I don’t expect to see her until Tuesday at WW. 

That’s about it from my corner of the world. See you next week!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Blue Blocks and Quilt Kits

The weekend sure sneaked up on me today! (I like the sound of “snuck”  better than “sneaked”, but it’s not correct according to Google). Wasn’t it just Saturday, like, yesterday? OK, maybe it was a few days ago, but jeez….  So, here we go.

First I framed 8 of the wild animal squares with blue, turning them into 10” blocks. It will take 20 to make a single quilt, and I have enough of the print pieces for 2 quilts. But I’ll be using other colors, like green and yellow and maybe more red or orange to frame them as those colors are called during the year for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge

I also sewed up 10 crumb blocks measuring 6.5” each (unfinished). 

Additionally, I sewed up some 4” crumb blocks, but I’ll show those next week when they’re sewn into the “candy” blocks. 

Since I spent the better part of two days this week cutting and assembling five Zipper Quilt kits for the Salt Lake Chapter of Quilts for Kids, I have to show those as well. 

As I’ve mentioned before, each of these kits uses up 3.5 yards of fabric, so these represent a stash reduction of 17.5 yards. Wahoo! Some of the backing fabric was purchased by me, but most of it this time around came from generous donors. Thank you!

And, in preparation for a mini quilting frenzy next week, I basted three quilts this week. Technically, the zipper quilt in the middle was basted before, but when my back-up machine Bob went berserk while quilting it, I had to unpick that quilting, remove the pins and start all over. 

So, after my final New Owner class today, Nina (my new machine’s new name. Thanks, Astrid!) and I will begin our quilting journey together!


The following story is unrelated to quilting, so you can skip this if you want….

Last Monday we and a few of our neighbors had a nice meeting at a local Starbucks with the demolition contractor who is handling the clearing of the large site behind our street. About a month ago, as a storm front was moving in and it was rainy and very windy, some corrugated sheet metal panels came partially loose from the back wall of the furniture store they were tearing down. The panels were flapping in the wind, threatening to (1) blow into either our house and our neighbor’s house, or (2) fly into the electrical lines between our homes and the wall. The demolition crew were Johnny-on-the-spot and rushed their excavators over to hold the panels securely with the claws at the end of the long articulated arms. Four of them, lined up along the wall like metal ballerinas. But it was only a temporary fix, and they decided to knock down the wall instead.

Now, there were three remaining walls that were still standing throughout this multi acre site. They were all outside walls of various buildings, and all composed of cinder blocks filled with pelleted polystyrene insulation - styrofoam bits. The plan was to knock each wall down in its entirety all at once, preventing the pellets from spreading. So, with the above metal panels threatening to take flight, they decided to knock that wall down. Well, the wall broke halfway down instead of fully collapsing. The flying metal threat was eliminated, but polystyrene pellets rained down on our houses and neighborhood thanks again to the wind. It looked like tiny hail, or cherry blossoms. Mayday! They called in the Murray City experts and the health department, who ran tests to verify that it was non-toxic. And then the clean-up began. The City brought in street sweeping vehicles and the demolition company had people shoveling areas of accumulation. It was still rainy and cold. Later that evening, a crew came around and shop-vac’ed our driveways and front walkways. 

There are still lots of the pellets remaining, and the meeting I mentioned above was to let us know that as soon as weather permits, they’ve hired a landscaper to come and remove all the pellets from our yards. They’ll suck it all up with a shop vac, replace soil where necessary, and de-thatch the grass areas. It was nice to meet the demo company owners. They had gone around the neighborhood to collect our names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, and have kept us informed every step of the way. The meeting was primarily for everyone to meet and be reassured that they will do everything possible to “make us whole”. They seem to be a very honest, hard-working and reputable company, and we know we’re in good hands!

Oh, and in the interim, the remaining walls have come down - wow! Like an earthquake!! But that’s OK - at least there were no more styrofoam pellets!

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Busy, But Not Much to Report

It was a busy and fun week again. We had 2-3 days of sunshine and mid-forties temperatures, melting much of the snow and allowing us to get out for walks. It’s always a mood brightened to get out and soak up some rays!

This morning is my second New Owner class for my new Bernina 570QE. I’m happy to report that she (still unnamed, any ideas?) and I are getting along famously, and it’s become second nature operating her. The class of about 8 of us (plus teacher) is a fun group, and we are mostly named Cathy (slightly less than half). That cracks me up because at my Weight Watchers workshop on Tuesday mornings (when younger folk are at work), there are always lots of women named Cathy (and Ann) and men named Tony. We’re all Boomers, naturally!

I did get the Bow Ties blocks sewn together into a 42x48 top. It joins the stack of to-be-sandwiched and quilted stack, now numbering four. Good grief! Didn’t I just do a Finishing Frenzy in November and December? Yes, I did - and I never shared the fact that I finished 24 little quilts in that frenzy. How can there be four more already?

January’s color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is dark and bright blue. My first block for this week was the Split Nine Patch, which I made a couple years ago and absolutely loved. When it works, it works. Here are my 16 blocks for this month. 

Then I got the urge to start whittling away some of the blue strings. I decided to start in the center of each block with a navy string and work out through the various colored strings, ending up with the brights at the two sides. It made an interesting ombre effect, and I was surprisingly able to keep that up for all 56 blocks. Here they are just slapped up (sideways) on the design board. The papers are even removed! I’ll get them sewn together this coming week. 

My friend Ruby brought over a chunk of cute fabric that she’d found at an estate sale and gifted it to me. It had been sewn into curtains and parts were faded. I cut away all the bad parts and was then able to cut over forty 6.5” blocks. I’ll use them as the center in Happy blocks and make two quilts from them. 

I may have enough dark and bright blue 2.5” strips to frame up 20 of them and finish up another quilt top. We’ll see. If not, I can throw in a few other color strips. The bright print gives me lots of choices.

That’s it for today. Keeping it short and sweet (like me! HA!) so I can get to my morning class!! Thanks for dropping by! 

Saturday, January 7, 2023

New Year, New Machine

Welcome to 2023! Things have been so busy here, I hardly know where to start. But since this blog is primarily about my sewing and quilting, that’s the most logical point, right?

Last week I mentioned that my Bernina 550QE was in the shop for her annual spa treatment. As usual, when I took it in I asked for a stitch count, which I meant to be for the year. Once again this year I hit 3 million stitches, which didn’t surprise me given how much sewing I’d been doing. What I didn’t expect, however, was a total lifetime stitch count on this machine of 19 million stitches (9 years). And then the service technician said (1) “You’ve been a busy girl”, and (2) the machine would soon need a gear replacement, likely mid-year or whenever it started skipping stitches. Apparently the gears eventually get dull and worn down (like tires on a car?) and packed with lint. The machine had not ever given me any real trouble (except one quilt that I could NOT ever get the tension right on; I later figured it was the fabric itself. But I digress…).  He also said that was a pretty high stitch count, one that most machines don’t reach in a lifetime. 

So of course, that got MY gears turning. Would I want to do another (pricey) servicing soon, or should I just upgrade a bit? The thought had been noodling around in my brain for a few months. Long story short, I took the plunge and upgraded to a new, slightly larger machine. The year-end sale and fantastic trade-in were additional incentives. 

First I have to show you the box. When we brought it in the house and took a picture, I sent the pic to Cousin Kim, saying “FRA-GEE-LAY” (a reference to the Christmas Story movie where Darren McGavin’s character wins a “major prize” that comes in a crate marked Fragile and turns out to be a leg lamp). I told Kim the box either contained my new machine or a leg lamp. She was rooting for a leg lamp! Ha! 

But it was my new Bernina 570QE, shown here not yet completely unwrapped. Yay! I’m in love with the wider (by 2”j harp space.

So, I’ve been just doing basic sewing this week. My three New Owner classes begin this morning and run for three Saturdays. The bobbin is HUGE (holds 70% more than the last machine). I have had no trouble with anything so far except getting the last couple threading steps right on the bobbin insertion, resulting in poor tension. But I figured it out. And that’s how I roll - I learn better when I make missssssnakes and have to work my way out of them. This may be a long learning curve! But I hope to be ready to actually quilt something by mid-month.

So here we are, beginning a new year with Angela and the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. January’s color is blue; darks and brights (which translates to me as darks to mid-value range). I’m linking up to our first Scrappy Saturday gathering. 

My first RSC blocks of the new year are these delightful Chaser blocks from Cynthia Brunz of Quilting is More Fun Than Housework. This is a great pattern - basic, but with so many variations and ideas jam-packing her pattern, that I can’t recommend it highly enough. Besides, it’s great to support our quilting friends, right? See her patterns HERE. I’ll probably add in other variations of this block as the year progresses.

I’ve decided to use black as my constant/background color to help me continue paring down my dark scraps. And speaking of whittling down darks, here is another block (four-in-nine) that I’m doing with the same goal in mind:

Yes, I see that the upper right section in the upper right block is turned wrong. I always wondered how someone could do that and not see it the first time. Now I know!! Don’t worry, I’ll fix it today. What I don’t believe is discernible in this photo is that the 1.5” squares (the constant color) in the top two blocks is navy, and in the bottom two blocks is dark gray. I plan to make two quilts at year-end. The gray quilt will eventually include pink and girly colors and the navy will be boyish. 

These Little Brick blocks, courtesy of Sylvia, are a continuation from last year. I’ll probably make more of these in the blues later this month. 

I also have sewn together the two quilt tops from these donated blocks. They were both supposed to have orange cornerstones, which I cut out and had at the ready. But I was concentrating so hard on sewing with the new machine that I forgot them both times!!

These two tops and their backings have gone into the to-be-quilted line. 

And taking up residence on the design board are the 4” bow tie blocks made as one of my 2022 RSC blocks. I made only enough for one quilt, and it’s undergoing top assembly now.  I’ll probably add a bright 2” border all around and call it good.

It appears that our House of Reprehensibles finally elected Kevin McCarthy as Speaker. The Republican Party has shown what a clown show they are. They need to get the MAGAts out and get back to responsible governing. And I’ll spare you the rest of my diatribe. (You’re welcome).

Have a great week, friends.