Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mid-Week Update

Hey, did you know the new Quilt Sampler magazine is out? Woo-hooooo! I haven't had a chance to read it in any great depth yet, but a browse through the magazine makes me want to do a little quilt shop traveling!

And hey, did you know that Gran has taken the plunge into blogging? Chances are that if you have a blog, Gran has probably stopped by and commented at one time or another, so you may already know her. Click HERE to go over and visit Ms. Knot-y Embroidery Lady herself and welcome her to the Land of Blog! (And if you're good at putting two and two together, you're right--Gran writes very long class supply lists!)

Speaking of embroidery, I ran across this book in a fabric and craft store the other night and felt it needed to come home with me. Since I love Mary Engelbreit, I think her designs would be fabulous to embroider!

Remember a week or so ago, I decided the Back Home Again fabric in that cute little suitcase wasn't exciting me as much as it had in the beginning of the class, and I decided to start over with the Ellery line of fabric I had in my stash? I thought I'd share a photo with you of the blocks I've made so far. There are two more main blocks and half-sized versions of each, so only four more blocks to make before I can start thinking about setting these beauties! I'm VERY happy with these colors and prints, and making each block is awfully fun!

It's a funny thing--I really love the finished Back Home Again quilt in the original fabrics, but working with the smaller pieces for each block--well, I just didn't like it. How weird is that? I don't think I've had that happen to me before--have you?

Time now for bath and bed. I haven't been feeling great today, and I think it's probably a combination of allergies and not enough sleep, so I'm going to try harder on the sleep part tonight.

Before I go, though, just a couple follow up things--YES, I DO have a new refrigerator arriving Friday! All is well in that regard, as I received email confirmation from Sears this morning.

Also, if you're signed up for the Hat Party class on Saturday, there's a post following this one that you might want to read. And if you're in or around the Sacramento area, are interested in the class, and haven't signed up yet--there are still a couple spots left.

I'm glad you could stop by for a visit!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

To My Hat Party Students--

Yes, here it is--an extra blog post! I wanted to post a few things for the students of my Hat Party class coming up this Saturday at Bearpaws & Hollyhocks. Everyone is welcome to read it, but it may be boring if you're not attending, and I apologize for that. Today's "regular" post is below and tomorrow's "regular" post will come later.

About the class, though. First of all, the class goes from noon to 6 p.m., so we'll have plenty of time to sew, play, and chat. I WILL be bringing food--we'll be having a little tea party, and I'll probably break out the goodies a couple hours into class after everyone is settled into their work and I can get things set up. So make your lunch and dinner plans that day accordingly.

The fabric requirements I provided the shop may have been a bit sketchy for some of you if you were unable to purchase the pattern, because I said "see pattern." If you weren't able to buy the pattern when you signed up for the class, please know the pattern is back in stock at Bearpaws and available for purchase. In the meantime, though, here's what you'll need.

To make the full-sized quilt, which is pretty large, you'll be making 24 hat blocks. For each block, you'll need a fat quarter. In order to get good contrast between the hat pieces, select 8 light fat quarters (in my quilt, that was the white/off white prints), 8 medium fat quarters (again, in my quilt, that was the yellow prints), and 8 dark fat quarters (the blue prints in my quilt). The fabrics in each color range should blend well together because you'll be using a piece of each of your eight fat quarters to form the backgrounds of the hats.

To make a smaller quilt--and I'd recommend either 12 blocks or 15 blocks--you'll need as many fat quarters as blocks. Again, you'll likely want to select three main colors in a light, medium, and dark range. In other words, for a 12-block quilt, you might want 4 yellow fat quarters, 4 light blue fat quarters, and 4 red fat quarters (this is a sample suggestion for colors here--just as long as there's definition between the colors and an equal number of lights, mediums, and darks, you should be fine).

For the smaller quilts, rather than have a mix of fabrics in each background, I'll suggest you use a unified (all the same fabric) background as I have here in these shoe blocks:

The pattern does not include sashing between the blocks; I've added that in mine. You can chose to make yours either way. I've also added a border to my quilt--again, the choice is up to you. I used felted wool to make the leaves in my quilt; if you want to do the same, Bearpaws may have green wool available but not out on the shop floor--ask Lindy or one of other gals if they have any put away. I also made yo-yos for the flowers in the hat brims, and I used a Large Clover Yo-Yo maker for those; the shop carries the yo-yo makers, but I'm not sure whether or not they have that size. Still, other good alternatives would be yo-yos in a heart shape or larger yo-yos--ask me in class where the yo-yo makers are kept and I'll be happy to help you decide if there's something in stock that you'd like to use. You'll also want to raid your button jar or box, but if you're short on great buttons, you might want to check Lindy's stash of vintage buttons.

Besides fabric and regular sewing supplies, please bring freezer paper, a rotary cutter with a nice, sharp blade, a large-ish ruler (I like to have a 15" square in addition to my 6" x 12" ruler--I'll try to remember to bring my 15" square in case anyone wants to borrow it), and a small cutting mat. There ARE cutting mats on the back tables you can use, but a small mat makes a nice surface for piling and carrying your hat pieces. As an alternative, you might want to bring a piece of sturdy cardboard or a pizza box. I will also have freezer paper available if you don't already have some in your stash.

The good news is that the new refrigerator will be delivered Friday, so I'll be shopping, cooking, and baking Friday night--no need to worry that I'm going to give you food poisoning along with whatever I feed you on Saturday! I'm looking forward to the class--see you at noon on Saturday!

Rage Against the Machine

So I might have bought a refrigerator. Only time will tell.

Do you ever wonder how we managed without computers? Do you ever wonder why things are so much HARDER with computers sometimes?

Hubby and I planned to go to Sears after work to look at refrigerators, but having gotten some input from a few of you and having looked at more pictures and reviews, I decided I really didn't want to take the time to go to Sears and look at refrigerators when I could simply order one on the computer during my lunch hour. So I called Hubby and we talked over our options--I had narrowed it down to four models I liked. Because of our limited space, we eliminated two of the four. Because we like bells and whistles sometimes, we eliminated the not-quite-as-fancy model. That left one obvious choice. Wanna see it?

It's a Kenmore. 21.8 cubic foot side-by-side with neat stuff like lights and water and ice and--you know--neat stuff. (Dianne--see that turkey in the freezer?!) And it actually looks quite a LOT like the one we've had for many years, which means I can get a midnight snack without turning on any lights! So I ordered it. Maybe.

I checked the box on the computer screen and into my shopping cart went a 21.8 cubic foot refrigerator. (It's magic the way that's possible in the virtual world!) Then I checked the box saying we wanted the 5-year extended protection--a large expense, but from past experience, worth every penny. Then I checked the box saying we wanted it installed. Then I checked the box saying we wanted the old one hauled away, shot, and buried. Then I got to a box that asked me about my preferred customer number and the rewards program. And that's where the trouble began.

I DO have a Sears MasterCard with reward points, but an actual preferred customer NUMBER? Hummm. So I tried to log onto my account, but I had password issues. Many password issues. I never seem to be able to remember those details. So I called the customer service number and they also wanted my password. Luckily they were a little less picky--I was able to give them a ballpark guess on what I thought my password might be--or at least a variation thereof. And I told them all I really needed was my preferred customer number anyway--nothing that would breach national security. So they put me on hold for awhile, only to come back and say I didn't have a number, but maybe I should try my account number or the number on the back of my card.

Now, the only reason I was going to this trouble with the whole preferred customer thing was because when I clicked on the "what is this" link, it said there might be other discounts available, and I'm ALL ABOUT other discounts. Still, nothing I tried in that little box worked, even when I chanted "open sesame" while typing various numbers. So I gave up and proceeded on.

On the next screen, I realized that somehow I was buying TWO 5-year protection plans and TWO installations. Now what do I do? Well, luckily I noticed that some steps ahead, there was an order confirmation screen. So, okay, having a great deal of experience with online ordering, I figured I'd just edit my order when I got that far. So I continued on, inputting all kinds of information until I finally reached that screen. And I found that although I could edit just about everything at that point, the only thing that couldn't be edited was my actual order. ARGH!

About this time, I realized my lunch hour was over. And because the store saves everything in a customer's shopping cart for 30 days, I had to go back to the first screen and manually take everything out of the cart.

An hour or so later, after I calmed down a bit, I went back online and did the whole order thing over again. Since I knew what I was doing this time and had long given up on any kind of preferred customer recognition, it only took me five minutes to order the refrigerator. Yes, I got a screen that said I'd ordered the refrigerator and I'd get an email right away with my purchase information on it. Silly me! I believed them and didn't bother writing down the order confirmation number at that point.

Six hours later, and I still hadn't gotten an email. So I emailed Sears' customer service department, asking whether they'd received my order. Now I'm waiting. Waiting to hear something from Sears. Waiting for a new refrigerator. And something tells me it would have been far faster and easier to just go into the store and buy the darn thing! Or, better yet, just give Hubby a printout of the refrigerator I wanted and send HIM to Sears. That's pretty much what I've done in the past, and it works pretty well.

Sometimes low-tech works best, and that's a good lesson to learn. If this refrigerator thing doesn't work out, there's always the low-tech option of a styrofoam cooler and ice.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Husbands and Other Stuff

One of my blog friends, Synthia, sent this to me--it cracks me up. With Hubby not working, I have to wonder how long it will take before he becomes one of these guys! He's actually kept pretty busy so far. Today he spent a good part of the day hanging around the Sears appliance department.

Let me ask you this: Do you have a refrigerator you love or hate? Ours has been having issues for awhile now. Years, really, but the issues have become more critical in the last couple weeks, and we feel it's time to replace it before it quits altogether. Here's our quandry, though. The one we have now is a side-by-side with an ice and water dispenser in the door. The side-by-side is a bit of a problem because there's a wall on one side that prevents the freezer door from opening fully. We love the convenience of the ice and water dispenser, so we were thinking ideally we'd like something with an ice and water dispenser in the door but with the freezer either on the top or bottom. Unfortunately, there seem to be few models out there that meet this criteria and the one or two I found had really poor reviews. Then we thought we'd forego the dispenser, but the popular thing these days seems to be a bottom freezer, and Hubby--because of his muscular dystrophy--has a hard time bending and straightening up. So it looks like we're looking at another side-by-side. Do you have an opinion on any particular brand, one way or another? And, by the way, we're looking at a mid-price range.

Remember Dianne won the giveaway of the Quilter's Kitchen book the other day and I said I'd have to figure out where I'd put it for safekeeping? Well, I was only half joking. I knew the book was here last week but I hadn't seen it for several days. Over the weekend I kept an eye open for the book and sporadically checked here and there, but no luck. By this morning, I was becoming a little more concerned, so I spent a good 20 minutes looking in every place I could think of--still no book. I was half way resigned to just packaging up my copy of the book and sending it on to Dianne; I knew that eventually the other copy would turn up. I'd given up the search and was taking a bath when it occurred to me to wonder whether Hubby had done something with it. Sure nuf! I found it in the garage on one of his tables along with a couple westerns I'd bought him and a cookie cookbook. I guess he's really taking his weekday cooking duties seriously! Dianne, if you're reading this, I'll get the book in the mail tomorrow. (And if you're NOT reading this? I'll probably STILL get the book in the mail tomorrow! 'Cause I'm responsible that way!)

Hubby's getting out of cooking most of this week, so he won't be needing the cookbook anyway. Tonight was the embroidery class, tomorrow night will likely be spent at Sears and any other appliance store that seems promising, and Wednesday night is another quilt class. By the way, I WAS the cool kid tonight with my snazzy new binder cover! A few of the ladies read my blog, so they knew what was coming. And I'm afraid I gave our teacher a hard time about the long, long list of things we were required to bring, but she's actually a good friend and took the razzing well, although she DID give us a bit of homework to complete before the next class in May. Just as long as there are no tests, I'll be happy! Oh, and treats. Yep, as long as she keeps bringing us treats, I'll be happy!

Well, it's WAAAAY past my bedtime, so I'll say goodnight. Thanks for stopping in to visit!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Back to School

I'm starting a new class tomorrow night, and I think the teacher may be pretty tough. It's an embroidery class, and look at this list of stuff we have to bring!

Well, I got the list out today and started looking it over and gathering up what I had. And near the top of that list is a 3-ring binder--and writing paper, dividers, and clear plastic pockets--just like "real" school! And, just like "real" students, I wanted to go back to school with cool new stuff that would make me the envy of every other student. So I decided to make myself a binder cover. And I figured I'd show you how, just in case you ever find yourself wanting to be the coolest kid in class.

The first step is to layer a backing fabric and batting, just like you would a quilt. The backing and batting should measure 13" wide x 40" long. In addition, you'll need a bunch of fabric strips 14" long by 2-1/2" wide or less. Because I'm basically willing to take the easiest route, I pulled out a bunch of precut 2-1/2" strips in the colors I needed. You'll also need an orphan quilt block that measures 13" in height--or you could just do it all in strips, but I like the block idea.

Anyway, as I said, layer the backing and batting fabric. Position your orphan block about 8" from the left edge. Pin the block and layers in place.

If you want to keep your strips going straight, draw pencil lines on the batting every 3" or 4" as a reference. (I drew my lines but then I decided to sew my strips on a little wonky so I mostly ignored them.)

Start sewing strips on each side of your orphan block. Do this by placing the strip right side down on the edge of the block and sew a seam. With your iron, press back the strip. Sew the next strip. Press. And so on, and so on . . . until you cover the batting and backing with strips.

Next, go back and add some quilting in your orphan block to secure the layers. Trim the tops and bottoms of the strips so the edges are even all along the cover. It should look something like this:

At this point, you'll need to get your binder out and fit the cover. Lay the cover on a desk or table, "good" side down. Open the binder and lay it on the cover. Position the left edge of the binder on the left edge of the cover and check the position of your orphan block--it should be centered on the back of the binder cover. Bring the right side of the cover up around to the front of the binder. I'm not sure how to explain this except to say that eventually, the front of your binder will look something like this--see how it comes up and wraps over the top?

Once you're satisfied with the position of the cover around the binder, trim the excess length from the cover. Don't toss out the excess--you'll use it next. From that excess, cut a length about 4" wide. It will be sewn on to the left edge of the binder cover as a pocket to slide the binder into.

You'll need to "finish" the right edge of that piece--I used a leftover fabric strip, turned the rough edges into the center, folded it down the center, pinned it in place, and sewed it by machine. Here's a closer view:

Now, you'll also need a "slide" to hold the right side of the binder in place. Same thing--use a leftover piece of the cover that you trimmed off. "Finish" or bind both edges of this piece. (I hadn't made my cover long enough to have a second leftover piece, so I just wrapped some fabric around a piece of batting, turned under the raw edge, and sewed through the layers to secure.)

Now, about that curved edge that wraps to the front of the binder. I just used a large dinner plate and traced the curve. The diameter was a little smaller than the cover, but I just extended the curved lines to meet the top and bottom edges. Once I was happy with the curve, I trimmed away the excess.

Now that you have all the pieces made, you can pin or baste the pocket and slide pieces in place. If you want to use a button as a closure on the front (see photo of binder front back up there a bit), then you'll also need to pin a loop of ribbon, rick rack, or whatever you'd like to use at the center of that curved edge in the photo above. Pin the ends at the edge of the cover with the loop or tying ends oriented away from the edge.

Okay, the last step is the binding. I recommend using bias binding for this project because it will lay nicer and sew easier around the curved edge. Add the binding as you would a quilt, covering the "raw" outside edges of the binder cover. Sewing on the binding will also secure the pocket, slide, and loop. Finally, try the cover on the binder and decide where to place your button. Done!

And since you've already seen the front of my binder cover, here's the back.

What do you think? Am I going to be the coolest kid in class tomorrow night, or what?!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Life's Little Pleasures

Besides quilting, I think two of life's little pleasures are eating and reading, and my recent giveaway combines both of those into one--Jennifer Chiaverini's cookbook and story The Quilter's Kitchen. And, of course, it's time to announce the winner.

As Hubby was drifting off to sleep tonight, I asked him to pick a number, and he picked Dianne of A Month of Sundays. Here's a photo of Dianne, by the way. You can't help but love a woman who wears pink flamingo slippers!

Congratulations, Dianne! Please email me your mailing address and as soon as I can remember where I put the book, I'll get it in the mail to you! (The house isn't that big, so I should be able to find it by Monday. Of course, I put it in a safe place where I wouldn't lose it!)

Quite a few of you mentioned in your comments that you enjoy the Elm Creek Quilters series. Guess what? If you didn't already know it, there's a new book out! I started reading my copy last night, and I think it's time for another installment.

Thanks to all of you for entering the drawing and for taking time to visit me!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spoiled Rotten!

If I had my druthers, I would have been born rich.

And if I couldn't have been born rich, my second choice would be to work at a creative job I loved and earn tons of money doing it.

But since neither of those have worked out for me so far (I suppose there's still an outside possibility as to the second choice), I'm happy enough working at a reasonably interesting job for a company that treats its employees pretty darn well. Pretty darn well? Actually, that's an understatement at this time of the year.

The other day I told you a little bit about how my firm turns Administrative Professionals Day into a week-long celebration, and I showed you the "menu" for the week. But since the week's drawn to a close, I thought I'd tell you a little bit more about how I've been totally spoiled this week.

Monday was breakfast. Yum!

Tuesday? 15 minute chair massages. No, that's not me and we weren't at the beach, but I swear that in my mind, it felt just like this! Except maybe Brad Pitt was the massage guy.

Then Wednesday was the first of two "surprise" days. Here was Wednesday's surprise--couldn't have thought of a nicer gift!

AND on Wednesday, my two work "kids"--Boy Boss and Girl Boss 2--brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a Venti Iced Latte! No, I have no photo of the latte--it didn't last very long.

Thursday's surprise was the gift of a set of placemats and napkins. We all had a fun time trading with one another to end up with a set that best went in our homes. This is the set I ended up with--I can hardly wait until I start getting out my summer "stuff."

Finally, Friday. Friday was lunch at Piatti's.

I took a photo of the menu--I was too excited about the food to remember to take a photo. Or maybe I was too excited about the mojito I ordered to remember to take a photo of the food. Something like that.

Kobe steak. Yum! Warm bittersweet chocolate cake. Double yum!

And after lunch? We didn't have to go back to work, so I stopped at the quilt shop. Yep, totally spoiled. And I love it!

Usually it's the weekend I look forward to, but compared to this past week and knowing I have chores to do around the house this weekend? I think I'd rather go to WORK!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thrifty Goodness

As my lunch hour approached today, I was feeling a bit at loose ends and not sure what I felt like doing. I didn't feel like hanging around the office, but I didn't really need to run any errands either. So, somewhat half-heartedly, I decided to drive over to one of the nearby thrift shops and see what they might have.

It's funny how sometimes you go not expecting to find much and end up bringing home quite a lot! What did I get? Well, remember I'm trying to set up an office in my son's former bedroom? I won't show you a photo because it's kind of boring, but I found a metal paper tray with four shelves. Hubby will probably spray paint it tomorrow--I'm not fond of that utilitarian gray color they use, so we'll paint it a neutral off-white. I also found this decoratively painted metal "bucket" that fits perfectly on one of the shelves in there.

I'm not sure what we'll keep in it, but it's much larger than it looks in the photo and I'm always on the lookout for decorative storage solutions. No, I didn't bring any wool clothing home from the thrift store this time--Hubby's still working on taking the last blazer apart from my last wool-buying spree, and I figured if I came in the door carrying more wool blazers, he'd probably feel justified in trying to stab me to death with the seam ripper. Instead, I came home with these.

A serving dish for autumn meals, including Thanksgiving. I have some other amber colored glass I like to use, and this will fit in well. Also, a medium/small clear glass serving bowl--with just me and Hubby to feed, we don't NEED large serving bowls anymore, and I've realized lately that I don't have anything small but decorative.

A crocheted bureau runner and a small cream and sugar set in blue spongeware. I'm planning to use these at my Hat Party quilt class in May.

And the coolest stuff I found? Three ecru crocheted antimacassars, just like grandma used to make! (Actually grandma never made them, but she always seemed to have plenty around on the chairs!) I'm just a sucker for handmade crocheted "pretties"! I know you can't see them very well, but maybe clicking to enlarge the photo will help.

And, did you notice the teapot? I already have one like this, so now I'll have a matching pair. I've actually come across a couple more over the last year or so--I bought one and had a giveaway on my blog, and then I saw two more in the same thrift store at the same time, but both had some serious condition issues. The two put together would have made a nice "whole" teapot, but I didn't want to spend that much money, so I passed them by. This one has some crazing in the glaze, inside and out, so it's not quite as nice as the one I've had for awhile, but crazing's pretty common on older glazed pottery, and there are no actual chips or cracks, so I'm happy enough (especially with the $4.99 price tag!).

And last but not least, another blue/green Ball jar to add to my ever-growing collection! Sometimes I run across a couple of these at a time, and then I might go months before I find another, but whenever I find them, as long as they're in good condition, they end up coming home with me.

Have you visited a thrift store lately? Next time you have a little time and aren't sure what you feel like doing, head to the thrift store--you might be pleasantly surprised!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Yummy Find!

Do you remember, by any chance, when I posted HERE about the Quilter's Kitchen by Jennifer Chiaverini? I had just made this really yummy pork dish--

I've since made the dish a couple more times, and it's always excellent! Well when I was at the thrift store the other day, I came across another copy of the book, so I quickly snapped it up. It's filled with recipes that are strung together by the story of one of the newest members of the Elm Creek Quilters, a woman who was brought on to cook for the staff and retreat-goers.

Would you like to win it? If you like the Elm Creek/Chiaverini books, like to cook, and don't already have a copy, please leave me a comment, and I'll put you in the drawing. I'll pick a winner on Saturday night. Good luck!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why Does Quilting Have to Be So Messy?

No, no need to answer that question--it's rhetorical. I just spent several hours on Saturday night cleaning up the Sweat Shop and getting everything nice and tidy--after a couple weeks of working on several versions of the Cherry Delight quilt and several other projects as well, the Sweat Shop was starting to look like a fabric bomb had exploded in there. And, for a couple days, it stayed nice and neat. Of course, I realized I couldn't pull anything out to work on if I wanted to keep it that way, so for the most part, I've just gone in there, sat in my quilting chair, and admired the clean orderliness of it all.

I don't do well with mess. My desk at work is very orderly--nearly compulsively so, but not quite. And I'm pretty much that way with everything. Otherwise, I tend to lose stuff, not the least of which is my mind.

Still, I find that it's nearly impossible to quilt without making a complete and total MESS. I think part of it has to do with my small space, but I also think it's just the nature of the endeavor.

Do you remember the six-month class I'm taking, Back Home? That's the one with the cute little suitcase and the 1800s repro fabric? The one I went to the wrong class for a couple weeks ago? Well, the RIGHT class is coming up on Thursday, so I started thinking about making this month's blocks. And you know what? I decided I wanted to start all over again (which means making THIS month's two blocks plus four previous blocks)--and I want to use different fabric.

Did I hear someone ask, "Why?" Well, it's like this. I'm currently taking three ongoing classes or clubs, and all three involve 1800s repro fabric. Don't get me wrong--I LIKE the 1800s repros. But I like other things too. So, I thought, why would I want to spend all my quilting time working with the same kind of fabric when I have a whole room in my house stuffed to the brim with non-1800s repro fabric?

Then, too, I have to blame Sinta. Have you stopped by to visit her new blog? Well, if you click HERE and scroll down a bit to see some of her quilts, you'll come across a house block quilt using the Ellery line of fabric that came out about a year ago. And yes, as it happens, I have a fairly healthy collection of the Ellery fabrics that were just languishing on a shelf. So, when I saw Sinta's quilt and remembered my forgotten Ellery fabrics and THEN started thinking about what I wanted to do about this Back Home quilt project, it all just fell into place.

So, tonight when I came home from teaching the Hey Ghoul Friend class, I pulled out my little Back Home suitcase, got out the patterns, and pulled a pile of Ellery fabric off the shelf. And, voila! In no time, the Sweat Shop became a very messy place to play in again.

Not all of that stack is the Ellery fabric--there's some cotton and wool on the bottom that doesn't belong. And there's another stack or two of the Ellery fabric out of frame. In other words, I've spread fabric all over the place, and once again, it looks like a fabric bomb exploded in the Sweat Shop. I think it only took about 15 minutes to go from neat and tidy to cluttered and messy.

Because I got a late start on my play time tonight, I only got one block made. There's not a lot of definition in two of the colors--the yellow and light pink--so the star pattern doesn't really stand out very well, but I think that's okay. I suppose I could do it over again if I decide I can't live with it. Really, though, I just wanted to play with fussy cutting that center square, and I like it well enough. All in all, I think I'm going to enjoy making this quilt in these fabrics much more! Now, if I could only figure out a way to keep it neat and orderly, I'd be in heaven!

Hey, you know what? It just occurred to me that if ever a time comes when the Sweat Shop stays neat and orderly for any amount of time, it probably WILL be because I'm in heaven--or whatever alternative may be awaiting me! So I guess I'll just need to find a way to enjoy it--after all, it's a HAPPY mess!

Happy quilting!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lazy Gal

I'm being very lazy tonight! I'm sure that will shock some of you, right?! The only thing I did tonight was to go into the Sweat Shop and cut and cover a piece of sturdy cardboard for the bottom of my tote. Remember the tote I was making a week or so ago?

When I showed it to you, I mentioned I had a couple things I still wanted to do to it. One of those things was to give it a sturdy bottom. I also had some thoughts about side ties and/or a top fastening, but after using the tote at the antique fair and taking it to work today, I decided I much prefer being able to have easier access to the stuff inside and . . . well, I'm being LAZY, remember?! I guess I can add those later if I change my mind. I've gotten quite a few compliments on the tote so far and it's a nice size--big enough to take to an antique fair to hold a totally useless debit card, a limited amount of cash, and a vintage tablecloth plus a few other things at least!

So, shall I tell you more about my incredible bout of laziness? I was thinking about writing a tutorial or free pattern or something along those lines for making the tote, but instead I just went online and found a free pattern that's awfully similar to mine. Would you like the link? I think I can motivate myself enough to do that for you at least. Just click HERE.

If you want to make a tote that looks like mine, for the outside fabric I used a print from the Cherry Picked line by Wilmington fabrics, and although you can't see it in the photo, I used a white with black polka dot fabric inside. And, of course, I used the Cherry Delight pattern for the front section of the tote. The only things I'd really add in case you want to adapt the free pattern to make a tote similar to mine (i.e., using the Cherry Delight pattern for the front) are as follows:

(1) Don't add a backing fabric to the batting and center background as directed in the Cherry Delight pattern--just use the fusible batting as directed in the free pattern. And instead of adding all the applique pieces to the background and then adding the borders as directed in the Cherry Delight pattern, pin the branch in place (so it will be sewn into the inner border seam), add the inner and outer borders, and then fuse that to the batting. (Note, too, the measurements for the border pieces are different from those given in the Cherry Delight pattern--this is because part of the bottom border forms the bottom of the tote.) Once the front section and batting are fused, sew down the branch and add the machine-stitched applique per the Cherry Delight pattern instructions.

(2) About the change in sizes of the border pieces mentioned above--The bottom border piece should measure about 1-1/2" to 2" wider than the top border because part of it will form the bottom of the tote. So, with that in mind, the width of the border pieces should be adjusted as follows--first add the narrow inner borders to the center background as stated in the Cherry Delight pattern. Next, add the outside border pieces to both sides--those pieces should measure 3" wide by 9-1/2" long. Cut the top border strip at 1-1/2" to 2" wide by 16" long, and cut the bottom border strip 3" or 3-1/2" wide by 16" long. Once the borders are complete, check your finished size and trim to measure 15" wide by 12" tall (the size given in the free tote pattern), remembering to keep the bottom border about 1-1/2" to 2" wider than the top border.

(3) Don't add the front pocket mentioned in the free tote pattern directions. Yeah, I know--this may SEEM like an obvious thing, but we sometimes get busy cutting stuff for a pattern and only later realize we've cut something we didn't need because we're modifying the pattern.

Other than those changes, follow the directions in the free tote pattern. And, of course, you can follow the same steps using a preprinted panel or other pieced or appliqued block rather than the Cherry Delight pattern.

* * * * *

Changing subjects a little bit, Wednesday is Administrative Professionals Day--you may recall that it used to be called Secretary's Day. (Of course, that was back when sanitary engineers were just plain garbage men, and police persons were policemen, no matter whether they were actually men or women.) My firm doesn't wait until Wednesday to celebrate--we celebrate all week long. Here's the schedule.

So this morning was breakfast. The table decorations were festive and superb . . .

. . . and the food was wonderful!

Tomorrow we get chair massages. Now with that kind of pampering, a person can be excused for being lazy, can't she? You'll have to excuse me now--it's time for me to be lazy in bed. After all, I must rest up for tomorrow's festivities. Good night!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Roseville Antique Fair

This morning, four of us piled into my friend Lisa's SUV and headed off to the antique fair. Temperatures were expected to be in the high 80s, and the day was just as hot as promised, but much of the fair was shaded by large trees. I took some photos to share with you--nothing in particular, but just to give you a sense of what was on offer and how everything was set up.

Generally speaking, I thought the prices were pretty reasonable except at a few booths.

At this point of the fair, the trees ran out and the booths were in the hot sun--I felt sorry for these vendors! And at around this point, I could have sworn I took a couple photos of a booth with some old quilts and some neat primitive "stuff," but where are they? The booth was shared by two gals, and one is my friend Lisa's administrative assistant, Tana Taylor. The photo above shows just a bit of their booth, looking on to another booth but I really wanted to show you the antique quilts and some of their other things, darn it!

I love dishes! I didn't buy any though--Hubby would have killed me. Instead, I contented myself with a photo!

I took this photo to show Hubby--I thought he'd enjoy seeing some garden art made by others.

All sorts of interesting stuff was for sale.

Of course, I had to get a photo of this treadle sewing machine and table. I would have loved to buy it but I have nowhere to put it in my house. The price was really reasonable, although can't remember exactly what it was (maybe if you click in you can read the price tag). Unfortunately, I wasn't able to buy a LOT of what I would have liked to buy because I didn't bring very much cash with me. These days, I use my debit card everywhere and it didn't occur to me that many of the vendors wouldn't be equipped for debit cards--I guess their merchandise wasn't the only thing that was vintage! Next time, I'll know better and hit the ATM before I get to the fair.

There's another antique fair next weekend, by the way, and we have some tentative plans to go.

Are you wondering what I DID get? Well, first of all, let me show you this book I picked up at the thrift store a few days ago--terrific book with all kinds of ideas to spark the imagination if you're into thrifting and flea markets.

And because I love vintage linens and textiles, this section has caught my attention. Cool, huh?!

So the first booth we stopped in, I found this (it was also the booth with the treadle sewing machine):

Of course, what you see here is just a quarter of the tablecloth. I thought it would make an excellent window treatment for my daughter's former bedroom. And at only $10 and me with a limited amount of cash, it was the perfect buy!

I hope you've had a great weekend--I did! Now it's time for my beauty sleep--back to work tomorrow. Thanks for stopping in to visit!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thrifting History

In what is starting to seem like my never ending search for green wool blazers, I hit a couple more thrift shops today--not much luck in that regard, but I found some neat things anyway. As always, I made a point to visit the "crafts gone bad" aisle and noticed a box on the top shelf. I pulled it down and found it jam packed with old patterns. Well, I just LOVE old paper stuff, so I had to go through the box.

Goodwill annoys me by marking the price on the front of the patterns. One of the cool things about these old patterns is the pictures on the fronts, and writing the price across the front oftentimes ruins them completely for anyone looking to collect them. Still . . . sometimes you find some gems anyway.

I thought the address label on this one was amusing--"4012 Lios Lane (or Lois Lane?)." The pattern was printed and mailed in the 1950s, so the sender obviously had Superman on his or her mind, don't you think?! The address on another envelope to the same woman said "Leo's Lane."

Here's what was inside that envelope--a pattern to make a boy doll.

And in another envelope? A girl doll pattern, of course!

And another pattern from the same newspaper pattern service, but this is addressed to a different woman, F. A. Guild. Both women--and I don't know if they may have been related or not--wrote what the pattern was on the outside of the envelope. This gal, F. A. Guild, used the envelopes to jot notes on too.

I don't know if you can read it, but she wrote on the pattern envelope, "Shorty, have gone to the Auction. Will be back about 1:30. Betty." I wonder what auction Betty went to? We've had a farmer's market/auction in Roseville since 1947, and that isn't too far from where Betty lived, so I wonder if that's where she went? One or both of her patterns were dated not long after WWII--which is about when the auction started--and that makes them over 60 years old.

How about a couple apron patterns? The pattern on the right wasn't dated but I'm guessing early 50s. The pattern on the left was dated early to mid-70s. The floor length aprons seem a little goofy to me! But then it was the 70s, and everything was goofy!

And a couple more early 50s patterns. And let's not forget something for the little girls . . .

The one on the right seems older but the one on the left wasn't dated. Both, though, clearly state they're "not suitable for chubby girls." Poor chubby girls!

I found a few more things at the thrift store and photos may well show up here at some point. Finding these patterns was awfully fun, and looking through them tonight more closely was even MORE fun! Of course, a gal can NEVER have enough fun, can she? So tomorrow, I'm going here:

I'll let you know if I find any more treasures!