Friday, March 29, 2013

Goddess finally secured

I finally found time to stitch, in the midst of utter chaos. One daughter was in Japan visiting her brother, leaving her 2 dogs at home. My other daughter is in a play with the local high school. This was their week to perform. I was feeling tugged in a dozen ways. It felt so good to sit down with my machine and relax. 

I stitched on a thrift store shirt of my daughters. It started as a white cotton shirt but was a bit yellowed, so she tie dyed it. Now it needs taken in to fit her. I stitched the sides but she wants it taken in even more. The kid is so slender. 

I also pulled out my Express Your Love quilt. I needed to finish securing the main lines of my Goddess. I unfolded her and nearly cried. I had drawn the lines with an erasable fabric pencil. It never occurred to me that the lines would rub off when the fabric was folded. My heart sank. 

I had already stitched the Earth, ribbons and most of the rays. I still needed to stitch her face profile and hair. The profile needed to be drawn but I decided that if her hair got a little wonky, I wouldn't sweat it. My hair can be wonky, LOL. 

I could almost see some of the lines, the problem was using a flat presser foot. I couldn't see what I was stitching. I needed a better foot and lots more light. And to stitch everything at once if I was going to keep using a pencil. I redrew her face as best I could. Then I stitched it, plus her hair and a few random lines I hadn't finished. She is now secured and ready to be free motion quilted. Yeah!! 

I'm an experienced sewer. I have sewn clothes forever and still do. Baby clothes to formals - it's all good. In quilting, I'm a beginner still. I have done place mats and baby blankets but nothing free motion or art-y. Express Your Love is an art quilt - a wholecloth quilt, intended to be free motion quilted. It's a challenge on many levels. And I am making all the rookie mistakes. 

I did not stretch my backing tight enough before basting. I did ok but not great. I used pencils to draw the lines which rubbed out promptly. I do not have a free motion foot or altered a foot to accommodate free motion quilting. I will learn the new skill set to be a better quilter but the dumb mistakes grieve me at moments. 

My goals are to get a lamp to better light my sewing space. Maybe a better foot? I want to buy a new machine but I am waiting on a potential tax refund. So I need to work with the tools I have right now. I need to work on my patience most of all. What are you stitching?    

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Trees! Trees! Trees!

We have been so busy planting trees. Oklahoma has been in a drought for a few years. Summer heat has been insane - over 100o for weeks at a time. Then you factor in several ice storms and we have lost several trees. And I love trees. They provide shade for my sensitive pale skin, plus they are pretty. 

So I bought some tree seedlings. 

200 tree seedlings.

Yes, I am an overachiever. I bought them from the state forestry service as bare root babies. They arrived and were bigger than we expected - yeah! I had set aside an area as a 'nursery' to let them grow larger before we plant them all over the property. Plant the survivors that is - they have a high death rate around here. The nursery isn't huge but we squeezed them all in - Ash, Lavender, Pecan and Ponderosa Pine trees. The Lavender are actually bushes.

Spring isn't here yet but our local Wal Mart had fruit trees in stock. Yeah you guessed it, I had to have some. We lost our last fruit tree a couple of years ago. My husband and son dug the holes and voila - we have 6 new baby fruit trees waiting for spring and leaves. Two each of peach, apple and pear. Different varieties for cross pollination, of course but yummy fruit one day, if we can keep them alive.  

I'm trying to do my part to beautify the homestead and provide more oxygen for Planet Earth. God says to practice stewardship. I wasn't sewing ut I have been happily planting lately. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Janome or Brother

Rainbow events had me in the city again this weekend. I love Rainbow but not the city so much. Since I am considering a new or different machine, I stopped in at a dealer to see the Janome machines. Specifically the Janome Horizon 7700 QCP. Or that was the plan. 

They had a nice store with lots of shiny, new sewing and serging machines. However the Janome's they have posted for sale on their website are NOT in their store. They had many Brother machines, some Singer machines and Elna I think. 

The saleslady directed me to an alternative machine, in the new Brother V series line, the Dreamweaver. I'm a sucker for new sewing machines and this one was pretty. She has oodles of stitches and functions. A red laser line to keep you sewing straight. A roomy throat space for big quilts. So many fabulous features. 

For $3500!!!

Oh my golly .... I have cars that I did not pay that much. The Dreamweaver comes with a lovely big table. But she is an expensive girl. 

They demonstrated and taught me some functions, stitches, encouraged me to sew on her. They stitched MY name without an embroidery hoop on her. I was in love. She even has blue on her face. Blue is my favorite color. I want one!

But I do not have that kind of money. So when my daughter texted she was done for the day, I said farewell and left Dreamweaver at the store. I heard the sweet notes of her song as I walked away. It was a tearful goodbye. 

I was confused because I had went in to the store to explore one machine and instead was shown a fancier machine. Maybe I should make the Dreamweaver a goal and skip the Janome Horizon 7700 QCP? The Janome cost more than several of our cars but it came in at $2800 retail. They do offer a Janome 8900 which does more, it will raise your children, but it is out of my personal price range. Where is a $300 machine that will do the same stuff? Wahh! 

I came home, did research and pondered. Then I went to you tube and found several videos reviewing and praising the Janome. I found videos that went step by step how to thread it, sew with it, change feet, everything. It was fabulous. I found the promotional video for the Dreamweaver but that was it. It must be a really new machine.

I have not bought either machine. There is not a dealer within an hour that has a Janome in stock. I have Brother and Babylock dealers an hour away. It makes it tough to have any hands on time with a machine. 

I am listing the pro's and con's. I am leaning to the Janome. There is so much information out there to help me. Time and finances will tell. I also started looking online for a used Janome ... No used Dreamweavers anywhere, yet. I love a great bargain!  

Just in case you are interested ...
 Janome Horizon 7700QCP
A link to the Janome Horizon 7700 QCP though it may not work as a link.

A link to the Brother Dreamweaver though it may not work as a link. 
Brother Dreamweaver

Friday, March 8, 2013

Thrift Store Find - Teal Zebra

In the midst of working on our barn, we had a day we had to be in the city for a consultation with an oral surgeon. I took the opportunity to stop in a couple of thrift stores. Raising four children on a civil servants salary is not easy. My husband has great job security but is not the highest paid man on Earth. 

I taught my kids that thrift stores are a fun way to have clothes uniquely your own. When only a few dollars is invested, you can tailor or personalize a garment to suit any whim. If it doesn't work out, you are not out much money (though you do have a new outfit for chores or play since we use everything). My youngest daughter wears a small or extra small in ladies - not easy to find. With a few stitches though, a garment can be sized down to fit her slender frame.  

My girls especially have grasped thrift stores as a way to define their own tastes in clothes. Trends are fine but my girls developed an eye for color and style that I admire. They can assemble an outfit for any occasion. They are both members of the International Order of Rainbow for Girls, through the Masonic fraternity, which gives them regular opportunities to wear formals. I sew some, such as the floral one a couple of weeks ago. We also look for formals at the thrift store to clean, alter and be fabulous. 

On this city trip, my youngest daughter found two church dresses, a pair of jeans and a sweater at a Goodwill thrift store for $16. This is my kind of deal! Today's teal zebra dress needed an insert as it is cut too low at the bustline. We dress for modesty around here. The dress has a tie at the waist to tailor it small enough for my little princess (she is almost 17), so the insert was the only needed modification.  

I had some leftover black lining fabric from my sons vests to cut a diamond of fabric. Fold it in half to make a triangle. Serge the edges. Tack in the bustline of the dress. 

Voila! A modest but trendy, funky, cool dress she can wear anywhere. 

Please ignore the mess in my closet in the background. My daughter had to run to play practice, so she was unavailable to model the dress. Once again, I failed to secure my model, leaving you with a flat picture. Sorry :) 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Super Scarf

New day and a new project. I love sewing! Quilts aren't usually wrapped up in a few days but when I'm sewing clothes, it is a short time commitment. Quick satisfaction!

I sent my son in Japan a hand knit scarf and hat, plus a fleece scarf as part of his Christmas. He loved the hand knit scarf as the homespun yarn was super soft. The drawback - his beard snagged it and started cutting the fibers. Argh! 

He asked for a new fleece scarf and oh by the way, please make it a foot or two longer please Mom. I got a thick neck. A foot or two longer? The last one was a good 7 feet long. But whatever babe, Momma will make you a super long scarf.

I bought 1 1/4 yards of thick gray fleece. My thoughts were to cut it from selvage to selvage making 3 strips, then join the strips. That would make it almost 10 feet long. Upon closer inspection and with enough thinking that my head hurt, I decided to remeasure the fabric. I had a 1 1/2 yards! My receipt backed that up. Oh well, a miscommunication might come in handy today. 

I still cut selvage to selvage but cut 4 strips. I joined 2 long strips together with simple sewn lines running the almost 60" length of the strip. Then I laid the strips at a right angle, overlapped at the end.

It's hard to see the quilting lines but they are there on the horizontal piece. You can see the angled line drawn. That is my seam guide. I can zip across small pieces by eyeballing it but not these huge scarf pieces. They are about 17 across. I lose length joining this way but since I would start with (3) 60" pieces, I had enough to spare. 

Because I can't stand to waste fabric, I sewed a second line parallel to the first seam line, then cut in between. This gave me a lovely soft square with a triangle of single thickness and a triangle of the quilted double thickness leftover from the scarf pieces. I'm thinking maybe a smallish pillow? 

I repeated the right angle joining of the third piece, leaving the quilted section in the middle of the scarf. My hope is that if his beard starts to cut through it, the double thickness, folded over to make 4 actual layers will survive his whiskers. Once I had this massively long piece, I folded it over, right sides together and stitched the length. Turned it inside out and voila! A new scarf long enough to swaddle a python. I did a little decorative leaf stitch across the ends to close them. Simple and quick! It was a happy day sewing :)