Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Next Up

As I sat down to write this post (which will eventually be about an upcoming project I hope to start soon), I started to recall a dream I had last night.  It involved a strange thrift store display—more like a sculpture or art piece—comprised of dozens of vintage sewing machines welded together in a circular pattern, kind of like a gigantic mobile or chandelier made of many different makes and models, colors, etc. 

The piece was suspended from the ceiling (the store itself was like a very big pole shed or barn or maybe an airplane hangar, someplace with a high industrial-type ceiling).  Everybody else in the store seemed to be ignoring it completely, going about their usual shopping, but I was fascinated and intensely curious.  I looked around again and realized my mom was there (this is the second dream I've had this week about my mom and something sewing related; she passed away in 2009, but it's always a nice surprise to see her in my dreams).  I asked the people in charge of the store about the sculpture and found out they actually wanted it taken down, and if we wanted to remove it, we could have it and all the machines that were part of it. 

My mom didn't seem all that interested at first, so I had to fill her in that since she'd been gone, vintage machines like those had become more popular with collectors/sewists, and that I bet we could separate them and sell them on eBay.  I did a quick mental tally and somehow came up with a figure of 10 grand in machines suspended above us (yeah, right...in my dreams!).  Of course, there was the issue of whether or not any of them were in working order or even had motors and/or their requisite parts, but I was willing to take a chance.  All we had to do was come up with a plan for removing them.  Mom was always a good problem solver, and I was confident that between the two of us, we'd figure something out.

The next thing I knew, I was lying face up on an open moving platform lift, rising higher and higher toward the ceiling and the monstrosity of machines.  Did I mention I'm not particularly keen on heights?  And that this was an open platform, as in no side rails?  And that it was wobbling?  Which explained why I was apparently frozen flat on my back, feeling that I did not dare even sit up to get my bearings lest the thing start swaying more, and I sure as heck didn't want to look down.
High Steel Heroes, c. 1932
Maybe I underestimated the logistics involved in accomplishing this feat.  Just a tad.

Things got fuzzy after that, but it was with relief that I woke up on the low platform of my own bed, safely back on terra firma.

* * * * *
Well, there is little more down to earth than men's plaid shirts, and I've been up to my armpits in them this past week. 


(Before)
Specifically, I have been cutting them apart for a quilt project I'd like to get started on.


Over the past couple of months, I've been picking up a few men's plaid shirts here and there at the thrifts, having in mind to make the string quilt, "Dad's Plaids" from this book by Elsie Campbell.


I first saw this quilt on Pinterest and tracked down the pattern and book from there.  It is one of my most re-pinned pins (trumped by Ian Somerhalder, however), so apparently a lot of other people are enamored of it as well.  If any of you have made this quilt or are planning to, I'd love to know about it in the comments.


Anyway, I think I have enough shirt fabrics now to get started, although I haven't taken a complete inventory (oh yes, there are more in the stash) and something tells me I may still be in need of light colors.  But I'll sort all that out in due time.


Did you know there is a lot of fabric in a XL or XXL men's shirt?  As far as the deconstruction process, some may find it a tedious proposition; fortunately, I am one of those people who has always loved cutting things with a good sharp scissors.  After all, I apparently remodeled my mom's best girdle into a "cheerleader skirt" with a pair of her sewing shears and gave myself my first self-haircut by age three, so I think it's fair to say it's a predilection I was born with.


(After)
And because I am in a tangential mood, and I like this song, and the heights dream reminded me of it...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Scrappy Sixteen

The scrappy 16-patch quilt top is now stitched together, seen here sprawled on the steps of the deck and spilling onto the lawn, like a colorful guest who's had maybe one too many. 


Hold on there, buddy. In fact, why don't you lie down on the grass and try to nap it off. 


There you go.  That's it.  What's that?  It's too bright?  Well, just close your eyes, it'll be okay.
Anthropomorphizing aside, the quilt is, in fact, straight and flat, but the lawn needs mowing so it looks a bit rumply.  Plus with the sun behind me, I was dodging my my shadow in the shot, so you get some wonky angles.  Sober as a judge, I swear.


It's only taken me two trips to Jo-Ann this week for backing fabric.  The first choice looked fine in the store, but at home mostly resembled a paper bag.  At first I thought it'd be a soothing contrast to the "Quiet Riot" of the front (that'll be the quilt's name, by the way), but no.  Just...no.  Six yards of no.

I'm linking to Whoop-Whoop Fridays, where Sarah's dancing granny is cracking me up!

If you feel like shaking your rump, here's one from the vault—Nikka Costa, circa 2001, "Everybody Got Their Something."  Yes, we sure do.

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's Monday...It's Miscellany

Overheard at the Flea Market
 "See this hat?" said the woman in charge of the pie booth, pointing to her head, "We Amish and Mennonite do not lie."

I didn't catch what the customer had pressed her about, but I had to chuckle.  Gotta love that Anabaptist sense of humor.

We came home from the flea market with nothing more than a couple pounds of bison from a friendly farmer (who wore a baseball cap, in case you're wondering).

Grateful for the Growing Season
The friendly farmer in my family, a/k/a Dad, has had a good crop of kohlrabi this year.  I think it's my favorite vegetable.

If you've never tasted kohlrabi, it has a mild, cabbage-y flavor, and the texture is kind of like a radish.  I enjoy it peeled, sliced and eaten raw alongside a sandwich for lunch.

The beets have been doing well too.  My favorite way to eat those is in the chocolate beet cake recipe, which I shared last year.  Can you freeze beets, do you know?  I'm wondering if I could just grate and freeze them in Ziplock bags, like you do with zucchini.


Media Musings
We watched Locke starring Tom Hardy last weekend.  I liked it very much, despite its mixed reviews on Redbox.  If you love your action flicks, you may want to pass, but if, like me, you'd like nothing better than to stare at Tom Hardy for a couple hours, then by all means, see it.  I found it fascinating and compelling the whole way through, as the viewer comes along for the ride and eavesdrops on a man trying to keep a handle on various situations threatening to spin his life out of control.

I'm still working my way through the Outlander series of books (in the middle of book five, The Fiery Cross, at the moment), but have taken a short break to read something different.  

A Wilder Rose by Susan Albert is right up my alley.  I loved the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, but on discovering they were, in essence, ghost written/heavily edited by her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, I was curious about Rose.  Many years ago, I had read the biography of Rose Wilder Lane, A Ghost in the Little House, and then enjoyed one of Rose's novels, Free Land, after that.

I'm really enjoying A Wilder Rose.  It's been a terrific summer, weather wise, for grabbing some time to read every day out on the deck with my lunch.  I am savoring these days of sunshine and warmth and only wish I could soak it up and store it like a battery for those long winter months ahead...when the deck will look like this again, GAH!

(Okay, it is kinda pretty, I have to admit.  In pictures anyway.)

Palate cleanser/back to reality photos:

This little plant, whose name I forget, is doing well on my semi-shaded front porch.  And the barrel out front is a-blooming with some red and white star-like impatiens I tried this year.  

Note to self:  Forget about planting the begonia in the center of the barrel next year.  It got entirely swallowed up by the impatiens.

How is your summer winding down?  Are you grabbing the gusto of these last days before school and schedules?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chevron Baby Quilt No. 2

At long last, the second chevron baby quilt is finished for my friend Kathy's other grandson.  I delivered it this morning.

I'm really loving these colors together, turquoise and gray.  I incorporated a couple of the fabrics the mom had left over from decorating the baby's room and added a couple others to coordinate.

Once again, I used Crazy Mom's tutorial.  Quilted in an overall meander with Aurifil thread.  There's a glimpse of the gray/white chevron print backing as well.

The binding and a couple of the chevron rows are "Heath" by Alexander Henry in grey. So versatile, that stuff.

Also in process is the scrappy16-patch quilt top.  I made more blocks so it would be a comfortable size and am sewing them together now.

Here are all the blocks laid out on the floor earlier this week.  It's quite the riot, but I like it!

Linking to Whoop-Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Catching Up

Well, there's been quite the lull over here, huh?  The summer has been humming right along and here we are in August already.  How'd that happen?

I have been making 16-patch blocks here and there.  Here's how things stand so far on the scrappy 16-patch quilt.

I'm not sure whether to add more to make it five blocks across by six down, or leave it as is.  I'm not sure whether I love it yet, either.  I mean, I like it fine, and once it's done I'll be happy to toss it over me while I watch TV, and that's good.  I think it'll maybe grow on me. 

You may recall the Key to My Heart quilt I made early in the year.  It was recently gifted to my nephew Cody and Courtney's baby girl, Cali Jean, born a couple weeks ago.

What a cute little peanut she is, here with first-time grandma, my sister Nita:

And Cali below checking out her new quilt.  "Oh, how beautiful!" she is cooing.  Nah, she was just getting hungry, but I like her expression.

Norm went to the Renaissance Fair a couple weeks ago with friends.  It was Steampunk weekend, and they dressed in full garb.  

Photo by Brian Schultz, via Flickr
Photographer Brian Schultz took a nice head shot of Norm, which we found a few days later on Flickr.  There are a lot of cool photos in his Ren Faire and Steampunk groups, should you want to check it out.

When the new washer and dryer went in recently, I took the old mid-century, parental cast-off table that sat next to the washer outside to be hosed off.  It holds the laundry soaps and bleaches, etc.

This is after cleaning it, so you can see it's pretty worse for wear.  But I left it in the garage for now, because I feel another furniture painting episode coming on.  I'll probably use the tropical coral color on it, for better or worse (it sits in the basement where the sun doesn't shine).  I'm going to prime it first and use a poly sealer after its painted, not wax. 

But first, next week, I have to quilt and bind the second chevron quilt.  That's been in a stall for a bit, but I have a self-imposed deadline which I intend to meet.

Another project I've committed to is making some kennel quilts for the animal surgery where my daughter works.  She gave me a box of her "funky scrubs," with cute prints, that she can't wear anymore because they've gone to uniform scrubs.  I've been pinning easy quilt ideas on Pinterest to make use of the upcycled fabric.  Stay tuned.

Finally, I did a fun and quick little project last weekend, which took all of 15 minutes.  I made a dry-erase board for my daughter, who we helped move to a new apartment on Sunday.  

For all the new, um, information that comes to light that you have to write down (a favorite quote/scene from The Big Lebowski movie).  I also put an extra blank sheet of light-colored scrapbook paper inside the frame in case she wants to make a change.  

See the fine print on the board above for the how-to.  I should probably add that your frame should have glass in it.  Sort of a given, but you never know.  This one was 8x10.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Shirt to Planter Cover

I finally got around to moving the newly chalk painted table into the bedroom.  I had intended to put a third coat of clear wax on it, but after procrastinating on that task for a full month, I decided to skip it entirely.  

See how that works?  Put it off long enough and sometimes it doesn't need doing after all.

First I had to take the aspidistra on the old table outside and give it a spray with the hose to wash the dust off its leaves.  

Did I ever show you the old table? 

I trash picked and refinished this table in 2003.  The veneer on top was badly damaged and peeling, so I removed it.  There were some pretty significant gouges in the underlying wood, so I used wood fill to smooth those out the best I could.

Then I painted a faux marble finish on the top with some craft paints and stained the lower part of the table a mahogany color.  I think it turned out pretty well for a novice.

Around that same time, I also repainted a little half-round table I'd picked up at a garage sale.  I used craft paint on that as well, with some water-based poly on top to seal it.

It turned out like sort of a faux verdigris patina.  I really just kept slapping different color paints on until I liked it.

Back to the recently chalk painted table, after I hosed off the plant, the shabby basket over the inner plastic pot was looking, well, rather shabby.  I thought about repotting the plant, but the pot I was thinking of using happens to have geraniums in it for the summer.

So how about covering the planter with fabric?  

Enter this shirt my daughter recently cast off.  Instead of putting it into the Goodwill bag for donation, I asked her if I could have it for the fabric.   She said sure.

I cut off the upper bodice above the band.  Then I just pulled it up around the planter like a skirt, pinned it up in back, and tied it with a length of some vintage rickrack from the sewing room.

The bottom is just tucked up underneath and the whole thing is set on a thrifted plate, originally from Target, I think.  

There's no drainage hole on the basket cover (it is lined with plastic and the plastic pot fits down into it), so I don't worry much about leakage.  But if it does get wet, the cover is cotton and washable.

Here is the view of the corner of the bedroom.  The plant's a little droopy now, but it'll perk up.

Gotta love a quick, no-sew fix!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sew First, Sort Later

On a whim—which is how the best and worst of things usually start, right?—I began sewing 16-patches last weekend.

Before the whim, however, I had been cleaning the sewing space.  All that fabric folding and fondling led to pulling various things from the stash and musing Whatever shall I make with this?  And this?  Or this?

I like my stash, I really do.  It's eclectic, just like my musical taste and my taste in movies.  Part Frank Sinatra, part Band of Skulls; Pride and Prejudice and The Big Lebowski.

Don't you love that crazy vintage print underneath this stack of modern ones?  I mean, what is all that business going on?  Must make something with this lot, I don't know what yet.  The suggestion box is open. I only have a FQ of the pink and the blue-green rectangles, so something small.

Back to the 16-patches, I mashed up a few fabric pairs and this is what I have going so far.

I don't know if I'll end up throwing it all together in one crazy-busy quilt.  I'm just sewing first and figuring things out later.

I gave Kathy, the friend who is having me make the chevron quilts for her grandsons, these two mug rugs or minis, so she can remember her grandson's quilts by.

In other news, our 31-year-old washing machine broke last week.  The washer and dryer had been a wedding gift from my parents.

We'd had both fixed once or twice through the years, a belt here or a heating element there, but they otherwise ran like champs up until the bitter end.  This time the washer went out literally with a bang.  Lots of banging, in fact.  It sounded like a ginormous load unbalanced situation, but when Norm went down to see about it, he found a six-inch metal plate laying inside the washer, having sheared off from somewhere in the inner workings, and all the clothes spattered with some kind of rusty schmutz.  In other words, it wasn't pretty.

So we bought a Speed Queen set and take delivery of it this Wednesday.  I'm stoked!  Speed Queen, that standard of laundromats and college dorms.  It feels kind of old-fashioned, no digital controls, no front loading or steam jets. Just a regular ole agitator and plenty of swishing water action, but I needed another workhorse pair.  They still make Speed Queens with all-metal parts, something I like about my vintage Singer and newer Juki sewing machines as well.  And they're a "Sconnie" company, built right up the road about 40 miles.  Check out this vintage ad from the 1970s. 

(Image Source)
Silver metallic pants and go-go boots!  Groovy baby!