Busy weekends…

Wow, the past couple of weekends where really crazy! I started to feel funky by Tuesday night, and by Wednesday I knew I had a cold. My son also had a stomach bug that prevented him from going to day care. So both of us stayed home Thursday and Friday. The main difference is that despite his diarrhea, he was his same old self, super energetic and non-stop busy-bee… mom on the other hand could barely stand up! My husband could not stay home either day, so I had to manage the best I could. The tough thing is that it’s been ridiculously cold in New England (I guess around the country), so I could not take him outside for him to burn energy. We could not go too far from the house because of his tummy issues, and I would not drive the way I was. AND the boy is the outdoorsy type, I mean he wants to be out and about all the time!

So by Saturday I was pretty beat up, but a bit better from the cold. We went grocery shopping in the morning, and early afternoon I had a meeting at my local quilt shop for a block of the month program called “The Queen and Her Court.” They are offering two colorways, floral and batik.

The session lasts about one and a half hours, we get to see new fabrics, news from the shop, show and tell, and a raffle. It was very nice, despite the fact that all I wanted was to lay down. I decided for the “floral” colorway, although I am extremely tempted to make the batik also. The program for the block itself it very reasonable (25 to join, then free if you complete the block and show up for the monthly meeting.) The quilt is pretty big too, 96″x108″. The finishing kits range from 133 to 145 dollars, and although reasonably priced for the amount of fabric I know that I will make the Civil War Tribute quilt, and I’m also enrolled on the “Buck-a-block” program… It’s very easy to get carried away with so many beautiful fabrics and designs waiting, but I do like finishing things, so I think I’ll stick to the plan. I also learned that they collect blocks for charity quilts, very easy nine patches the work out to be 12.5″ unfinished, so when I went home I manage to finish 3 of them. A lot more will come.

I spent the rest of the day doing  house chores, because I knew I would have to work on Sunday. You see, I have been crazy busy at work. My project is under construction, and it is at a very fast pace. I have been up to my eyeballs everyday just to keep my nose above the water. I had a ton of emails waiting for me, and the thought of having my Monday spent doing filing, and reading emails was depressing. Besides my little one woke up 6:30 that morning already asking to go out. The nail in the coffin was a beautiful Wheeler and Wilson model 8 waiting for me in Newburyport, a quaint coastal town about 50 minutes from Boston…

She was on the third floor on this house that has seen 4 generations of the family. The grandmother had just passed, and the daughters were doing inventory on the house. The machine is pretty dirty, but it is only dust (please disregard the mess in my kitchen.) One can see it was loved, and they told me she made a lot of quilts. The cabinet is also in good shape, although one drawer, and the drawer’s bottoms are missing. They also have some unfinished quilt tops, and they asked me if I could finish them!

As far as working on the next podcast, I am back to writing a lot of material. Recording time has really been the issue, not to mention that because of my cold I have no voice now… Last weekend was taken by the cake I made for my niece’s third birthday. I love baking, and cake decorating, and a few years ago I taught myself how to use (and make) fondant. It took me 9 hours to complete, and on Sunday we spend the day with her in Boston.

 It’s made with 3 layers of yellow cake, and one layer of coconut ganache, and one layer of passion fruit mousse (my own recipe!). I’ve made all 3 cakes she had in life so far, and the bear you see beside the cake was the topper of her first cake that my sister-in-law kept frozen all this time!  I keep a little “gallery” in my Webshots if you want to check them out.

In the middle of all this I manage to start a scarf to use the beautiful hand-spun yarn from Under the Plum that I won from Craftlit months ago. The lace pattern is from the “Woodland Shawl“, a free pattern I saw on Ravelry, and generously provided by Nikol Lohr, AKA Thrifty Knitter.

I’ve only knit for a couple of hours, but this thing is so quick I am almost done. The lace is beautiful, but very easy and I had it memorized in the 3rd repeat. Like all lacework it’s going to need some mighty blocking, but I’m very pleased with the way it’s turning out!

So I’ve kept busy the past couple of weeks, and I have several posts on pattern review on the way, and I will be launching podcast 3 soon. I can feel my mojo coming back! YAY!

PR: Birdie Sling Bag by Amy Butler

Cute Birdie!

I had intended to write a pattern review for the Birdie Sling bag, and had taken the pictures a few weeks before I got sick… I don’t remember all of the points I wanted to talk about, but there are a few that stuck with me and I feel are valid enough to share. When my local quilt shop offered a one day class on the Birdie I did some research online and found a bit of mixed opinions. Although in general people seemed very satisfied with the final product, not everyone agreed on the degree of difficulty, and on how clear the instructions really are. I typically read through the instructions prior to class, and I try to prep as much as I can, but my schedule that week did not allow for that, so I got to the class without even opening the pattern. I’m not sure if I had taken the time to carefully read the instructions my feelings at the class would have been different, but I have to say that this is not a pattern for a beginner in my opinion. There are a lot of steps, and preparation even before you sew a single stitch. At the end of the cutting stage you end up with quite a few pieces because you cut not only the fabrics, but a  lot of interfacing. I felt really lucky to be in that class… 

Details count: the magnetic closer

 If I were to make another one (and I plan on it, I actually bought the fabric shortly after the class), I would label all the pieces very carefully. Make sure to check Amy’s website for any corrections on the pattern (or any patter for that matter), and I think I would try to make one without so much interfacing in the handle, it does feel a bit stiff. I do love the size (and the two very generous pockets inside), although some people think it’s too big. Being the Bag Lady that I am, I think it’s just perfect! For this project I used my Viking 6440, and I definitely recommend a machine with free arm. 

Be careful when making the pleats. Position them symmetrically.

PR (pattern review): The Name Game

51Y88Mp5QHL__SS400_The Name Game is one of the many patterns in the “Fat Quarter Fonts” book, by Atkinson Design. The book describe a method of machine applique that is a crossover with paper piecing, where no fusibles are used. The patterns are designed for fat quarters and charm squares. The accompanying CD has 2 alphabets in two sizes, drawn in reverse. You can print the letters on foundation paper, than you layer the fabric for the letter, the background and the letter template all with the wrong side up. After pinning in place you just run the “sandwich” on your machine, following the lines on the paper. I made two quilt tops so far, one for my son and one for my niece. I used two very different methods, which I will describe further down.

 

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I did the quilt top for my son’s quilt first.  I did not notice that the instructions tell you to cut 10″x10″ squares that will ultimately be cut to 9-1/2″ by 8-1/2″.  I can understand the background for the letters being cut larger to accommodate shifting while appliqueing but the other blocks generated a lot of waste pieces. Personally I stock my stash with 1/2 yard cuts so I got a lot of leftover fabric which I plan on turning into baby quilts to donate. I used all 100% cotton, and it’s an I Spy quilt.

For Kaiden’s letters I decided to use a satin stitch (basically a very tight zig-zag.) I used my Viking 6440 for the applique. For the piecing I used both the Viking and my black Singer 301. After you sating stitch you cut the letter as close as possible to the stitching. I have to say the final result is somewhat sloppy because there’s only so close one can cut to the letter before cutting into the stitches. I’m hoping that after the first wash the edges that are not stitched will fray off, and the finish will look better.

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Lana’s quilt is all flannel. For her letters I opted for straight stitching along the lines of the letter, than I cut around that line leaving about 1/4″ of fabric. With the right side up I used an open zig-zag as the decorative stitch, but also to prevent the fabric from unraveling past that point. Once the quilt is washed the edges of the letters will fray for a very “fluffy” look.

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Both quilts will have polyester batting since they will get washed a lot, and I did not want them to be too heavy. They will also have flannel backing for warmth in the New England winter. I bought flame resistant flannel for both, since that’s the part that will be in contact with the kid’s bodies.  I’m still deciding how I’m going to quilt them, but probably something very simple.

Because I chose to have a border of rectangles around Kaiden’s name, and he has a 6 letter name I think his quilt got to be a bit too big. If I were to make it again I’d let the name go from edge to edge. Lana’s quilt is a lot more manageable for a small child. I want them both to drag their quilts around, but I have a feeling my son will have a hard time once it’s done. Both absolutely love the top so far. When I brought my son’s top home (I took a full day class on a Saturday, so I was able to finish in about 6 hours), he would not let go of it. Thank goodness I zig-zagged all around, otherwise I would have no top left to quilt! He wrapped himself with it, and kept saying “Kaiden’s quilt, Kaiden’s quilt!”

Lana also loved her top, and I had a hard time getting it back from her. I will be buying the batting this week, so hopefully I can start quilting next weekend. My mother started one for my niece and she used variegated color thread and the result was stunning. I have to ask her for photos of it. I’m planning on making an alphabet quilt for my son, and I’ll probably use charm squares for this one. Overall a very nice and quick method to personalize not only a quilt, but also pillows, bags and anything fabric.

I won! And back to blogging…

When I started the blog I thought it would only be a place to post the podcast. But I don’t talk about my projects and FO’s on the show, first because there’s no time, second because that was not the format I had in mind. So I think blogging is the way to go. I have soooo much to share both in the sewing machine front, and the quilting (and some knitting), and my web adventures I’ll try to catch up in the upcoming posts. I want to review some of the patterns and techniques I experience with, and talk about the best machines for the job.

So yesterday I learned that I WON (do a happy dance) the Accent Wars competition in QN. Well, I had a tie for first place for best accent, but won for prettiest voice! I had a good laugh about it, I don’t think my voice is pretty at all, but getting bragging rights from a QN competition??? Priceless!

Work is going great for episode 3, and I’m waiting for a few interview requests. I also want to start developing the vintage machine portion of the show, and still deciding the best way to do it. Comments have been very helpful, so please keep them coming, as well as topics one want to hear on the show. 

The only sad thing is that summer is comming to a end. We’ve been cheated this season here in New England, although my family and I enjoyed tremendously visiting many wonderful sites in the area.

Kaiden and ducks

There’s a lot of beauty around here, and Kaiden got to experience a great deal of it. Next summer he’ll have even more things available to him since he’ll be (gasp) 3 year old! I just need to learn to like winter activities so that I can survive the cold with a toddler that is totally an outdoor type of person. Any suggestions?

WholeLottaSinger Podcast Episode 2

[blip.tv ?posts_id=2525639&dest=51712]

Today I’ll say many thanks, talk schedule, and we’ll have part one of Dr. Kimberly Wulfert’s interview.
Many thanks to Bean Pickers Union for ‘Photograph’

Silencio for ‘Fim da Vida’ and ‘Desire’

Soundtrack by Ricardo Botticelli

Check out Antique Quilt Dating, Quilters Spirit and Women On Quilts

Womenfolk by Judy Breneman

Baking and Eldredge Two Spool

I just finished baking the Amish Friendship bread. It is so weird that something out of a bag, and kept with no refrigeration whatsoever can taste so good. I do wonder about the amount of sugar and how Amish this really is… It’s almost 1am, so I am too tired to take pictures. The day before I almost did not sleep because my hubby and I were cleaning up… my Eldredge Two Spool! I almost had a heart attack when I saw that the seller packed the upper portion of the treadle, meaning the entire wood portion, with the machine inside! He claims he did not know how to remove the machine, despite all of the emails we shared when I stressed the importance of proper packing. Unfortunately a piece of cast iron from the base broke, but considering how bad the packing job was I am just happy to have the machine at all.

My DH hard at work cleaning my new baby.

My DH hard at work cleaning my new baby.

Overall the machine is in great shape, but the presser foot is missing.
The bobbin case that takes the canister.

The bobbin case that takes the canister.

I have a lot of cleaning and a lot of love to give this machine before it’s in working condition, but I know it’s well worth the effort!
The canister. It had a lot of surface rust, but nothing too bad.

The canister. It had a lot of surface rust, but nothing too bad.

Face plate with the tension assembly. I need a manual before I can mess with that.

Face plate with the tension assembly. I need a manual before I can mess with that.

Traditions and a Score!

Today is day 6 of my Amish Friendship Bread. I had no idea this existed until last Tuesday when I co-worker sent a general email to the people on the floor to try some. She knows I’m a baker and asked me if I wanted some starter. Then I learned there are several rounds going on right now at my office, and the following day I had a little zip lock bag full of yeast smelling mixture. Today I’ve added some flour, sugar and some milk (and of course mushed the bag.)

Amish_bread

This is one of the best things about living in a country that is not your native. Even though I have been here since 1998 (from my original home in Brazil), and I am now a naturalized American citizen, there is always something new to learn about my new home’s tradition. On top of everything I love bread. I love making it and I love eating it. There is something so beautifully basic about bread!  I can’t wait to share it with my husband, son and mom (who is visiting us for the summer).

Speaking of mom we hit the road today for some shopping. Since I work full time and haven’t taken any time off since she arrived, we only have the weekends to spend the day together. This afternoon we decided to go thrift shopping, and I took her to a Salvation Army nearby. I have to say I had my heart set on getting a great deal on a machine. I hear so many stories of people buying wonderful machines for 5 bucks at the Goodwill that I have been jealous for a long time. All of my machines have been bought at prices at or very near to fair market.

Although I did find some nice machines I was very disappointed that they were not bargains… It seems funny that since all of the Salvation’s Army inventory comes from donations (and I have literally sent a truck loaded with stuff to them the beginning of the year) one would think the mentality would be more about moving items and sharing the goodness with others. This store seemed to be more interested in marking things at market value, and to me it is no fun to pay near full price at a thrift store! I did have my eyes set on a lovely, 1950’s machine. They wanted 25 dollars for it, but when the guy tested the motor went off and would not stop. He thought the machine was broken. The wires are pretty shot indeed, but I know what this “problem” with the motor is (and it is no problem at all). I left it at that, and we picked up a couple of items and proceeded to the cashier. My kid was pretty cranky, he did not nap today, so all I wanted was to get out of there once he started to melt for good.

I had put all of our stuff in the trunk when I told my mom I wish I had bargained with the manager for the machine. She told me to go back and do so, and reluctuntly I did. I asked the same guy that tested the machine to talk to the manager. He did not look very confident on a deal, but when he came back he told me 5 bucks! Of course I took it, and now I have the new member or my vintage family, little Miss Rosie! p1010003

Isn’t she a pretty thing? It is a Royal 555 DeLuxe Window-Matic made in Japan. These Japanese machines made in the fifties are wonderful, sturdy, and very cute looking machines. It does have reverse and lowers the feed dog. The bobbin case is missing, I need to re-wire, and it is filthy dirty (I took some of it for its debut picture), but it is in great shape, the foot pedal and motor are original (both also pink!), and I know it will sew like a dream! I’ll keep posting about it.

So I finally got my bargain!!! Well, I did not talk about my Eldredge Two Spool yet, but this one will be a podcast entry because there’s too much drama, and I cannot convey it all just writing… Stay tuned!