Friday, September 17, 2010

Things to Ponder - Or Not

***Just a word of warning, this ended up a bit long winded.***

Okay, I have had shall we say an "off" week. I have not felt well and am not sure as to the cause. Stuffy head when it isn't running like Niagara Falls, zero energy level, burning itchy eyes, upset stomach and achy (okay, down right painful) joints.

Could it be allergies raging due to our superb air quality in the area? Let's see, half the farmers in town in cutting hay and alfalfa. The other half are cutting down the remains of their summer crops to prepare for the fall crops. Oh and then there is the fire on the hill, it started Sunday afternoon and as of today over 8,500 acres burned and is only 70% contained. Times like this I am glad I don't live up on the mountain. Understand, our town is in a valley, the end of long valley actually, but at our end, we are mountains three sides around so there are often fires to some degree going, especially this time of the year, factor in to that the Santa Anna winds and you have what is referred to as Fire Season. Our honorable governor Terminator, hold on, need to take a drink to get rid of the bad taste in my mouth by the thought. The governor has graciously declared a state of emergency in order to qualify the area for extra funds to fight the fires.

Where is the money coming from? Who knows, the state still has no budget approved and will start handing out IOU's again next month. Analyst feel that the politicians are waiting to see what happens with the November election. I think it is just wrong that the state workers (including those fire fighters, police, teachers, and national guard) will get IOU's. I just don't think that the grocery store is going to take it in exchange for groceries. Not to mention, those that are on disability (which everyone but me can seem to qualify for with less documented illness) state grants for college, or even unemployment (which seems to be really easy for everyone but me to get). I find it interesting that our Governor can declare a state of emergency for a fire from his little trip abroad, but he couldn't be bother to meet the deadline to file and appeal against the court that declared Prop 8 unconstitutional. Prop 8 is a proposition to legally describe marriage as the union of one man and one woman. All the hype over this is truly hard to navigate at times, but if you really look at the bottom line, it is a sad statement of our society that a detailed worded out description of marriage is even necessary. It really has nothing to do with gay marriages (which has an immoral voice that has sounded off in a loud way about) it has nothing to do with interracial marriage (which the proponents of gay marriage want to scare the people with) it has to do with those perverted minds that want to use the lack of terminology to get at our children and prey on women. If you don't believe that, think about it a minute. If the proposition defining marriage (which was voted on by the state - approved as one man to one woman) is not settled then of course there will be a mass stampede to the judges (and a few alters I am sure as several denominations have recently allowed to have gay ministers) for gays to marry. They say they want spousal privileges legally. A legal partnership, such as for businesses, is much stronger. Majority of insurances already pay benefits to anyone you list and pay for. Gay marriage is for the sole purpose of adopting children. Just like a traditional marriage, they can have the pull of a child to use on the mate. Here is the kicker, if marriage is not defined, it will be possible, legally, for multiple wives. In the more extreme case, and yes there are people out there that would embrace this situation, it would be legal to marry an animal, a real four footed animal. I find it rather disheartening that society has advanced to the point that this type of legislation is even necessary, but it is. Hopefully November will bring some huge changes as I believe a significant amount of voters may be waking up to what has been done to the country. Of course, I don't feel that our election process has the power any more for the common people that it should, that is was meant to have. The last presidential election with all the "super delegate" garbage, proven voter fraud, false information and news reports just reinforces that belief. Too bad Nixon didn't have the people in his pocket that Clinton did, he could have stayed in office as Clinton did, impeached and all. Of course, it would seem that Obama is the master of them all. Even his wife gets by with more than any other first lady. Really, her private staff (paid for by the taxpayer) is just obscene. Okay, I have vented and am now off my soap box and on to other subjects.

Things to ponder.

Why do old men like striped shirts with their denim pants with a belt and suspenders, at the same time? I had to go get blood drawn yesterday and there was an older gentlemen sitting there, getting the same thing done. I looked at him and thought how much his shirt looked like one my own dad wore often. Then noticed the same navy blue suspenders that dad wore. I am always thankful for those little fleeting good thoughts I have of my late father. Of course all my thoughts of him are good, except of this last hours. Those still haunt me and I can't get rid of them. At any rate, not going there, this sweet little old man, he was all of five foot five and doubt he weighed much over 100 pounds, but still had a look of determination and that little spark of frivolity in his eye. When he stood up and shuffled in to the lab, I noticed the belt too. That is what really had me thinking about dad, then when they ask his birth date I over heard his response and realized he literally about three weeks older than dad. It was a nice morning.

Then I went to the church quilt group. When I was working, I just didn't have the time to work on anything and just kind of dropped out of life I think. But, I am slowly getting back in to some things, carefully so as not to overload myself. It was really enjoyable. A couple of weeks ago, the last time we met, a couple of the ladies had decided to go through a box of fabric scraps. Occasionally, someone cleans out there home or cleans out a relative's home that is either moving or has passed away and they donate all kinds of fabric scraps, yarn and such to the quilt ministry. It is always such a blessing just waiting to be received by where God desires. Maybe the blessing in the the receiving of those end resulting items, maybe the blessing is in the giving from a thoughtful heart. So it was, that one of these donations was in the form of a box of fabric scraps. It had been decided to throw it away. Well, that is not allowed with the ministry. If nothing else, the church's school and daycare can use it for the kids to craft with. Well, in this box was a UFO (unfinished fabric object) in the form of a quilt squares that some one had started putting in to a quilt top. By the looks of the fabric, probably started in the 70's. I was in high school in the later 70's and I remember making my mom a dress (good grief what a horrible job it was) out of fabric that I had ordered from Sears, back when you had large catalogs that came out and you could just order anything from it, and the small floral print was almost identical to what I used for my mom's gift. Back to the UFO though. The print was paired with solids and made into block using the pinwheel block. Blue, pink, green, and gold (not yellow, typical bold gold of the time). Closer inspection was warranted as a result of basic curiosity. That was when I noticed the embroidered blocks. Someone had taken white cloth, used stamped cross stitch of little animals, and had embroidered the blocks. You know, the first thing I thought of was the time it would have taken to embroider those blocks. I wondered, not knowing where the donation came from, if this had been done by an older women while she waited for loved ones to visit or maybe a young mother while her babies slept, possibly a young child that was being taught to embroider. Okay, I have an active imagination that runs the gamut of lines of thought. I think I inherited it through my genes somewhere, the woman that raised me has no imagination what so ever. Aunts taught me to crochet, home-ec taught me to sew, and 4-H taught me other crafts. What can I say? A wonderfully special teacher taught me to open my mind to imagine everything possible and impossible, through books that I read, through writing my own versions down. Thank you Mrs. Marchbanks for a most wonderful gift.

I drift again, back to the donated scraps and the UFO. One of the leaders has pulled these bags of scraps from the trash and looked through the scraps, that was when I saw the UFO. My first thought was of the time put in to this work, thinking how sad that person would be to see their efforts in a trash bin. I took it and told them I would finish it out in to something. I just had to, their was no other reason. So, as the lady looked through the other scraps, I thought about what to do with these quilt blocks. Not really enough for a quilt, there was only four of them and one of them had this awful red fabric with little anchors on it. Well, the conversation of the other ladies was about the preschool and how the kids love to be able to cut the fabric and do all kinds of crafts with it. I remembered my own daughter playing momma in one of the centers and dressing up and carrying the dolls around. So...I hit on the bright idea to take these blocks and leave the original pinwheel and embroidery blocks grouped together in what is commonly known as a nine-patch then making those in to little doll quilts. Those little preschool toddlers will love the bright colors and it will be just the right size. I did take photos of the work, will post them tomorrow or so when I am all done. I found the cutest red fabric with little white stars to make a border around three of them and a mottled green for the fourth. I don't know why, but I just can't stand red and pink together unless it is valentine's hearts. Not in a quilt or in a garment though. That is why I pulled the green out of the floral and used it as a border on the one with the pink pinwheels.

While on the subject of quilting, I also when to the local quilt guild meeting yesterday. Now, there is a long story and some hard feelings about the local guild, which I won't go in to. Just leave it at the fact that I was made to feel that my skills were a little lacking in some of the old bitties eyes. In fact, I make quilts to be used, not to hang around at shows. I especially don't make the same exact quilt featured in the recent quilt magazine with the exact fabrics used on the project quilt and then act like I am so creative to copy something already thought of. I know, I said I won't go in to it, I really won't. Back to the point. The last few years before I started working, I had pretty much quit going to guild, just didn't want to deal with some of the personalities that were strongly represented there. Then when I started working, I didn't like going to the evening meeting because I don't really like driving of an evening. That is why I dropped out of the church quilt group as well, I could have attended the evening meeting, but just didn't want to leave the house. I don't mind getting out of a day, but when everyone gets home from work and school, I like to just hunker down and relax through the evening.

Well, new meeting place, new times, thought I would just go and see how it flowed. I really like the new meeting place. Nice and roomy. The new location is a little closer to home as well, not much, but a little and feels a little safer area as well. That was a positive. Not too many familiar faces, the ones that were familiar were ones that I normally got a long with, so another positive. Of the few familiar faces I came across, I could tell from their face that only one of them actually remembered me. I might have been a little familiar to them, like they know they knew me from somewhere? But other than that, nothing. Which in their defense, it had been like 5 or 6 years since I was there on a regular basis. However, the rest of the crowd just ignored me and didn't even try to say hello, except for the one woman that chose to sit right next to me when there was like 40 open chairs behind me and beside me. Wouldn't have been so bad for the fact that she was a heavy smoker and the smell was just overwhelming to me. The ladies being so unfriendly was a negative for sure.

I admit, it just hasn't been the same since my dear friend Cara moved away. We always went together, had lunch, visited, I miss having a friend. The other negative is the time of the meeting. There used to me a morning meeting and the evening meeting. Now it is an afternoon meeting, meeting at 1:30 instead of 9:00 AM. By the time they get through saying hello, to all but new comers, it was closer to 2:00 before they got started. I had to leave about 2:30 so didn't get much from the speaker.

The speaker was a lady that designs mystery quilts. For those of you that don't know, let me explain a mystery quilt. A participant is given a fabric list. The required yardage of each of the fabrics needed. Sometimes it tells you to pick a light and a dark, maybe a focus fabric with a light and dark, complimenting colors, or such so you know what to use and how much you will need yardage wise. Nice to pick out your fabrics, but you have no idea how they will be used together, what will be next to what. Therefore, use of value rather than color is really critical to a successful quilt. Then, you are given clues one at a time. This will be your cutting instructions, sewing instructions and eventually piecing instructions. For instance, one clue may be to use color A and cut 45 squares that are 2.5 inches. Or, take the color A squares and sew them to the color B squares. Then, as you sew through the clues, you solve the mystery when you finally put the top together and can then see what it actually looks like.

The speaker had some very pretty quilts, but you know, they all seemed to look alike after awhile. This speaker really likes half square triangles and she uses them. I know you can really make a different look by playing with the placement, even just playing with your colors and values makes a totally different look, but in the end, they are all triangles. Her mystery quilts, the ones she designs, are done through workshops or retreats. Personally, I don't really go in for mystery quilts, although I have made a few through some wonderful online quilt groups. Usually online you get the fabric requirements (most of the time, you post a photo of your fabric and the hostess of the mystery - who knows how the quilt looks in the end - will email you if you need to have a little different fabric choice) and then about every two weeks or so a new clue is posted. Then, you can post about your progress, any problems you may be having or such.

However, I really cheat and won't start cutting one out until I have seen the end result. The speaker said that she has one student that takes all of her classes and loves mystery quilts, but she does them always with seasonal fabrics. The student said that way if she doesn't like the quilt she only keeps it out for a short time before changing to the next season or holiday. Makes sense in a way, but I figure if I wait until the mystery is solved and look at the final result, if I don't like the way it looks I have saved a whole lot of time and a lot of money on fabric for something I would never have made to begin with. Guess I am just cheap that way. Nothing against Mystery Quilts, they are lovely for the most part and I can see the fun in them, and as I said, if I like the finished quilt I will make it. But they are not my thing.

Back to the meeting, I am still undecided as to whether or not I will join up again. They do a lot of good work as far as charity goes, and since most of the quilting I do (about 98%) is all charity, they are a great connection for getting my work to a place that can really use it. I do so love to make the isolet covers that go to the babies in NICU, think it is my favorite thing to do. The quilt guild, according to their latest newsletter, is also making cuddle quilts for Painted Turtle (a camp for cancer kids) and pillow cases for kids along with donations for the Quilts of Valor group. We have a local hero that lost both of his legs while serving our country, the guild made quilts and presented them to him when he was give the keys to his new home that was built by volunteers through Homes For Our Troops. I think that kind of support is awesome and if being a member allows me to be a part of that, guess I can look past the other. They were voting on changing the time back to 9 for the day meeting, so hope that happens, it would be easier for me. The guild also has a block of the month program where you make the block of the month and bring them in and you are placed in the drawing for some prize. It is fun as you can practice making a block you may have never made before with out committing to making a quilt full of them.

I will think about the guild a little more.

My doctor's office just called, my blood work was not improved, in fact was a little worse, so am being referred over to a couple of specialist for some further testing. THANK GOD, we are now getting some results and may just find out why I am having the problems I am having. I knew this was coming back in February, is why I ended up resigning my position. I knew I would need further time off for these test and they couldn't let me have off. Well, they made the effort, was told I could have off one day a week for appointments. However, my office manager also told me it would have to be the same day of the week all the time. This does not work. Some doctors only take new patients on Tues, then see follow ups on Thurs, if you are limited to only having appointments on Wednesday, you may be waiting three months to hit on a Wednesday that has a opening. Reinforces that I made the correct decision, hopefully when we get me all fixed up a part time position of some sort will show up.

Wow, guess I better go up and post a warning that this is long. It turned in to a book. Guess I better go get something to eat and run to Wally World to find Miss J a pair of long black socks for the band performance this evening. Like she hasn't know she didn't have any before the last minute, right? Thanks for popping for a visit.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I Triumph, Finally!

I am triumphant, have finished the dress. But first, a photo of the bible cover.

It isn't exactly the way I wanted, but is quite serviceable. Rather completely suits the needs I have .

This evening we went to take photos for a pictorial directory at our church. I love photographs as they stop time. The kids will never be this age again. However, a photo does show all that is wrong with a body from the dark circles under the eyes to the feeling you should have a sign that says "Wide Load" posted on your back side. Just when I think I am looking okay, some thing happens to pull that out from under you. Like seeing a photo of yourself, and the photo looks way worse than the way you see yourself. I always, and I mean always, look heavier in a photo than I see myself looking honestly in the mirror. Very depressing to say the least. I even put makeup on, feel like a ton of it, and then took a couple of photos of my myself. Holding the camera out in one hand while guessing where to look is a tad bit wearing on the posture. At any rate, looking at the photos I took, it doesn't even look like me. Kind of weird disembody thing.

Okay, here is the dress from heck. All finished.

I apologize for the quality of the photo, I am not good at setting up shots. You can't really tell from the photo, there is gathering on the top of both shoulders. The bodice is actually in two pieces, kind of wrap over thing but stitched together. If you look over previous postings you will find the photo of the pattern I used. It is Butterick 6582 and used view C with the circle skirt. For all the frustration I had, feel it turned out pretty good. It may not be that "Wow!" I had envisioned in my head, but totally wearable. A small miracle in itself. I tried it on and by the time I get the belt on over the waist seam, it will really look better. I sure wish you could see the front of the bodice and shoulders better.

I think that I will make this pattern again in the future, just not immediate future. So, that is actually number 3 on my Self-stitched Sept. list. My goal is 12 items, sewn, and worn, by myself and daughter Miss J.

I am nodding off as I type and need to get all this war paint off my face and go to bed. I have to get up early in the morning and make something up to take to WBS (Wednesday Bible Study) for our table.

Thanks for stopping in, will post more when there is more to say.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dress from there.

I have worked all day on sewing this dress, which I have decided is straight from the under world. All I have to show for it is the bodice. That just frustrates me to the point of being pissed off at it. As I posted earlier, I am making Butterick 6582 view C which is a reprint of a vintage or retro style pattern from the 60's. It is called a wiggles dress or Jackie O, as it looks like something she would wear. If I figure it out, it would make a killer LBD for my Hepburn project. I will see what the finished product is before a final opinion, but if you ask me at the moment I am hating it. I knew there would be a couple of hiccups along the way, I adjusted the length of the bodice because I am long waisted but forgot to widen the bodice to allow for my waist. I have come to the conclusion that it is time to get very serious about loosing some inches. I think that I have conquered the waist issue as I let out all the darts a little. I am not at all what you would call full busted, so the darts for me are more for looks than function.

Okay, here comes the gripes. First of all, the pattern calls for a belt and buckle kit to make the fabric belt. I can't find one anywhere. I finally did find some waist shaper, stiffer interfacing type, for making waistbands and belts, so will use that. Not a big deal really as I can improvise fairly well with most situations. I will use a metal hook and eye, larger size like for fastening a skirt, on the belt and find a nice decorative button or piece to sew on instead of a buckle. May even add some red lace trim to the neck, buy a red belt, and wear it with my red shoes. What has proved to be a big deal, at least to me, is the totally mixed up directions for the pattern. One view is shown, then you go to the facings for the view I am making, but it doesn't really explain how to put the bodice together. I have ripped it apart about four times already, at least the side seams and darts any way. The diagram shows the facings sewn on with a zipper already attached, but I have not gotten to the steps to attach the circle skirt so there is no way the zipper can be inserted yet. I know there is at least one mistake on the bodice that just cannot be fixed with out ripping the whole thing apart and I am not doing that. Like they say on Project Runway..."make it work"... and I will. I am stopping for the evening, will start on the skirt in the morning. I am pretty darn good at skirts, and it is a simple circle skirt that is gathered on to the bodice, so should not be a problem. That zipper may be a different story, I am not at all comfortable in my abilities in that department. Maybe the sewing book I won will come soon and it will show me how to do zippers.

This is definitely a learning experience. I have learned that marking the pattern is very important. Less interfacing is sometimes a good thing to consider. I need to really work on darts. Which I will since the blouses I plan to make has them. Friday I finished up my bible cover. Three out of four projects is not so bad. If this dress works out, I will add it to my Self -Stitched September goals. I have four sets of blocks that someone had started making quilt tops from. I am going to finish them off for doll blankets to go to the church preschool. My quilt mentor, Mrs. S, and the other quilting ladies were shocked when another lady brought out a bag of scraps and tossed them in the trash. That is where the blocks came from that I am going to work on. They are really vintage, the colors are crayon bright, and there are blocks of hand embroidered stamped cross stitch animals sewn in along with some blocks of the pin wheel pattern. They are now saved from the trash and will be completed and taken to there new home at the preschool where they will have a purpose. I will post photos when I get them done.

I am worn out so am off to bed, have a crazy week coming up. Tomorrow, we get our photo taken for the pictorial directory at church. Mom goes in the afternoon, we go in the evening. Wednesday, there will be the bible study I attend, as well a evening trip to take Miss J to the church to help with Awanas. Thursday is always busy as well, then Friday night is football games. Saturday we are headed up the mountain to camp and ride the dirt bikes, me on a quad, and I am so looking forward to it. After I get this blue monster (dress) completed, I will be sure to get a quilt fix in by finishing those doll quilts before I cut out another thing, or make anything for mom. Although, she has me loaded with projects all at once, and letting me know they are waiting to be done, I will do them as I can. She wants them by winter, not sure what winter is and if it will ever get below 90 every again. Of course, in January, will probably be wondering if it will ever warm up again.

Thanks for popping in and feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Halfway there

Two down, two to go. I used Simplicity 2363 for mom. I finished it up yesterday.

I think it turned out okay for the most part. Good thing is mom likes the color and the fit is dead on. Except for the sleeves. I think the next one we will put a little elastic in it. Just along the bottom edge of the sleeve. She has requested that I lengthen the dress a bit as well too. No problem there, the main thing is it has the fit and ease she was wanting.

I was a little put out on one thing though. The embroidery work. I had problems with the interfacing, it is too stiff. It also caused the fabric to pucker around the stitching. Not sure why that happened. This particular design was supposed to be done in pinks, but I wanted to match the fabric colors. I also turned the fabric a quarter of turn to make the design run up and down instead side to side. Also, it took me longer to run the embroidery machine than it did to sew the dress. The design is bit involved and has a long (at least to me) run time. Then, the hooping each time (six times) along with thread changes (3 colors, six times) was a little boring as I like to work faster. Thankfully I didn't choose one of the designs that had like six or ten thread changes. Here is a shot of the yoke to show the detail better.

Like I said, the fabric puckered on me, but she liked it and that is what is important. Overall, I count is as a success. What do you think?

I also finished up my daughter's zebra print skirt. Funny thing about this pattern was the yardage I used. Miss J picked out this zebra print fabric because she has a top that is made of similar fabric. After looking over the fabric, I decided which way I thought the stripes should run and cut accordingly. I used the Simplicity 2606 pattern again for her, cutting it down a size. The pattern called for 2 1/8 yards, but when I cut it out, I used less than 2/3 yards. Goodness, what to do with the left overs?

Now, to start on my dress and the bible cover. Then I will have to have a quilt fix before cutting more garments out. LOL I have way too many ideas running around in my head as well, but I will work them out one at a time.

As a side note of interest. I joined a sewing challenge called Self-Stitched September. You can read about it by clicking on Zoe, did a similar challenge, Me Made May, and had a huge amount of participants, most of which wanted to keep it going. So here we go. I am challenging myself to make 12 items for either me or my daughter in September. I may have to include what I make for my mom as well. We will see how it goes.