And…. She’s Back!

It is now officially five and seven weeks out from my bi-lateral knee replacement surgeries and officially I am feeling like I am on the mend!

It has been a tricky and painful journey. Especially the right leg. It was tough. I talk a lot more about the whole thing on my other blog, if you’re interested. MacCupcake.wordpress.com.

Be forewarned, I am pretty outspoken about the whole thing and really adamant that had I ever had any regrets about anything I have done in my life, this is the number one. Could ever undo something I had done? Having these surgeries would be the first on that list. I still may find that I will feel differently as the knees continue to heal and I am able to get around better and better, but right now… well, there it is. It has been seven weeks of non-stop pain of one kind or another and I am so tired of it. The worst is when it seems to seep into the bone and just throb… there is no getting away from that kind of pain.

Anyway, the point of today’s post wasn’t more lamenting… but to announce that I feel like I am ready to get back into creating. I have been prevented from doing much… I’ve been doing a lot of coloring. I love that this came right when there is an explosion in the popularity of coloring pages for adults, it saved my sanity during this time of immobility. I “invested” in this great set of gel pens – about 70 pens of multiple colors and different styles such as glitter, flat, metallic – and they blend wonderfully. I bought them when I started messing around with recreating paper dolls and it came in handy with plain ol’ coloring. I would print out interesting designs on card stock and I was good to go for hours.

I’ve collected many of these on my pinterest.com page and please head over there and check them out if you’re interested in coloring. Here is a quick shot of the collection and you can find it here:

Big People Coloring Pages

The other thing that I have been able to finally do is start working on the hand quilting of my found quilt. You can see the back story of the quilt here:

I had spent the time to carefully clean and repair it. Added an appropriate border – same fabric used for the backing as well – and then found a great hand quilting frame on CraigsList. I am really good at planning and preparing, sometimes my follow through leaves a little to be desired. 🙂

I finally got to the point of being able to bend both knees so that I could get under the frame. It took a couple of hours to get into a rhythm and looks like each section would take about an hour to quilt. I’m still working on getting my stitches evenly spaced and the same sized, but you know, it really is only my second quilt that I’ve hand stitched. (I don’t mind saying that if I actually get this quilt completed, I’ll probably not attempt another.)

Hand Quilting 1

The frame is a little awkward, specifically with the back cross support pieces, so there has to be a lot of planning when I am stretching the quilt. I think what I have decided to do is quilt the four piece square all the way across and then adjust the quilt and continue.

Hand Quilting 2 with Annotation.JPG

Just for fun, I am planning to keep track of just how much time I spend quilting. So far, after four sessions of work, the total is just under ten hours. As you can see, it is going to take a long time. It will just be my “go to” project when I am tired or stressed or just want to work on something that doesn’t need a lot of thought invested. I might look into a different quilting frame if I don’t find it becoming easier to work on.)

What’s next? I don’t know… I’ve been watching styles and trends during these past couple of months and I have some ideas but nothing big has captured my attention. Probably more importantly is continue with my physical therapy and get my doctor’s stamp of approval to drive again and more importantly, going back to work.

I appreciate everyone’s kind words and continued support these past weeks. Thank you!

Creative Update, Medical Update

Well, no, not really a creative update… but rather just let everyone know how things have been going. Two weeks ago, I had the first of bilateral total knee joint replacement surgeries. The plan then was to wait for a week and then have the second surgery. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a little too aggressive for me so we bumped it back one week. Which is tomorrow! Yikes!

But I really feel in a good place, pain levels haven’t topped four for the past week and usually it is just a little stiff from lack of use. The thing that bothers me most, though, is that I feel so prohibited from doing the things I want and love to do. I’ve been joking with The Kid by saying “… I feel like someone just chopped off me off at the knee…” ha, ha, ha… but it really does feel like that kind of limitation. I’m making light of the restrictions, but for me, it is like typing an arm behind my back. And now I am looking at starting it all over again, this time with the right knee! I only hope that having learned from the left, I can make it go a little more in stride for the right.

I had been working on getting the hand quilting rack set up so that I can enjoy some of my downtime on putting some real time and effort into hand quilting that old quilt top that I rescued during one of me and The Kid’s “adventures”, but am finding out the hard way that it isn’t really as easy as you might think.

I thought I’d start with just pin basting the quilt and then working on the hand quilting from the center of the quilt top out. But laying the backing, the batting and the quilt top out on the kitchen island and then starting to pin, it isn’t as simple as one might think.

2016-02-06 20.21.58First, it takes a small pyramid of safety pins to do this. I had maybe a hundred – who wouldn’t think that would be enough for a small quilt top, right? Well, wne through them very quickly. I purchased another 6 hundred and really pushed to get the half triangles all basted and a row around the border.

2016-02-06 20.48.23But when I went to transfer the quilt onto the basting frame, I realized that I no longer had the quilt top centered on the backing. I thought about it and tried to find solutions without having to unpin every single one of those safety pins and had almost convinced myself to just modify the border when it got to that point… unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I had managed to pin baste a couple of very large wrinkles into the backing material.

2016-02-08 22.04.09There is just no way around it, I am going to have to start all over with this effort.

But of course, since in the morning I will be once again looking at another few weeks before I can put any real effort into undoing and then starting again. If I had really been thinking, I would have had this ready prior to the first surgery. And all in all tonight, I am getting really tired and need to get things lined up for tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

Finally, Work Has Begun on the Denim Rag Rug

I seem to be guilty of working on many projects at once, and because of it, they seem to get completed at the same time. When that happens, there seems to be a roller coaster effect on the blog… many posts in a row, then nothing for a bit, then more posts. I wish I was better at planning or managing my work, but it is what it is.

Right now, my focus is getting things done that will be a) in my way once I have my double knee surgery and b) those projects I won’t be able to do because of the recovery. So, the garage is once again full of multiple projects being sanded and readied for priming.

Let’s see… there is one dresser, one chest of drawers, that little vanity that is about to become a pair of nightstands, my entry way pew (I can’t wait!) and headboards and foot boards waiting to become a couple more benches.

I am also determined to finish a project that I started about a hundred years ago… a table sized regulation Scrabble table!

DSCN4206This is the table base. The top is almost done, its been painted and the striped… all it needs is the special squares marked (you know, “double letter score” etc) and a finishing edge to the table. I’ve made the Scrabble tiles and the holders and then just to put it all together. I can’t wait to actually play a game on it… its going to be awesome!

I’ve been working on a couple of other small projects in between the big ones. One is for The Kid and his recent love of vinyl. As in music records. Whenever we hit the second hand shops and thrift stores, there is always at least one or two worth buying. His 45 collection is growing quite nicely and he needed somewhere to keep them, rather than in a flat pile on the desk. So, I am building this:

DSCN4207Its been primed, and I am going to finish it with a coat or two of my favorite Deep Space black high gloss paint. I made this in a day using scrap lumber (the bottom is actually paint stir sticks!!).

Whenever I get overwhelmed with how much is going on in the garage or it is a bit too cold to work in the garage (note: buy kerosene for garage space heater), I escape to my sewing room. I’ve been purchasing and prep’ing old blue jeans in anticipation of making a denim rag rug. So, after removing waist bands, pockets, zippers and seams, I have a nice pile of denim. The next step is to cut it all into 3″ strips in preparation for braiding.

So, I spent many hours tucked safely in my warm sewing room watching streaming television. I am having a difficult time estimating just how much is going to be needed to make the rug I want… or how large of a rug I can get with what I’ve got. I guess I will see when I start braiding. Saved for recovery time!

And speaking of, I am also planning on hand quilting that quilt I found some time back.

2015-02-18 16.45.07I’ve replaced the torn patches and added a new border and have a great backing material. Then I went out a purchased a hand quilt frame in anticipation (along with the wool batting) for time to hand quilt it and have been mulling over what pattern but right now, I am leaning towards just ‘stitch in the ditch’ of each and every triangle. Maybe I am overestimating how much free time I might have?

julie

P.S. I’ve been thinking about redesigning the website, mostly because the design blocks reader comments. I’ve been wanting a OMCS logo for a while, to start attaching to photos mostly – as they are popping up all over the internet, many without redirection back here. I’d love to hear from y’all… suggestions?

My New Longarm Quilter! Meet Collis Country Quilting

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I am an avid quilter. Well, I suppose it might be accurate to call me a ‘quilt piecer’, as I have really only actually done “quilting” on a single quilt. When my daughter-in-law was pregnant with her first baby – a girl – I made her a quilt. I found out that she was pregnant and that they were decorating their baby girl’s nursery in red and white. I pieced the top in a weekend and then furiously spent the next six months hand quilting it. I got it done just in time for Elisabeth’s birth. After that, I knew I wasn’t cut out for being a hand quilter.

Funny thing is, I had attempted to do quilting using my sewing machine a few times, but never could make it go the way I wanted. And then I have to sit and carefully pluck the stitches out and then find someone else to quilt it for me. I did tie a couple of quilts, even went so far as to “tie” a quilt and stitch beads into each section, but knew that the beads would soon be lost during use. Then I saw the ad in the back of a quilt magazine.

I “met” Gloria through that ad. And a virtual relationship started. Gloria has quilted so many quilts for me, that I couldn’t keep track. I am guessing somewhere in the three- to four hundred range. If memory serves, she had just gotten her long arm and wanted to try out some new patterns. In all of those quilts, maybe – maybe – I specified a pattern or thread color a half a dozen times. Otherwise, I let her experiment to her heart’s content. I would box up ten to fifteen quilts and send them off and two to three at a time they would come back. She has always done above excellent work for me. There literally has NEVER been a quilt that she completed for me that I didn’t outright LOVE.

I remember that when I moved from California to Missouri, I shipped her an extra large box of quilts… why drag them to Missouri just to send them to her? And then they came back to me done.

About a year or so ago, I managed to break her machine. I take full responsibility for it too. She had quilted a couple of denim quilts – recycled jeans, seams and all – but I recall her tell me just how difficult that it was to quilt. I recalled those quilts being hard on my own sewing machine, sometimes you get two or more seams stacked up and the needle just doesn’t want to go through it. Bam! Broken needle. Or broken throat plate. And it would throw the machine out of whack.

Well, it seems that one of my denim quilts really did a number on her machine. So much so, that she decided it was time to hang up her quilting needle for good. It was heartbreaking to lose her expertise and the quality she gave me in finishing my quilts for me. We’ve become Facebook buddies and share comments and a small part of our lives with each other. She did a great job getting a friend of hers to finish the remainder of the quilts that I had sent – sans the denim quilts. I had hoped to find someone more ‘local’ though, do you have any idea what a large quilt costs to mail? And multiply that many times over and it would seem that I am supporting USPS more than I should!

Recently, I wrote a blog about uncovering unquilted tops. Counted 53 that still need to be finished. And with my steady work to complete all started projects before I start anything else, I have added another eight plus six denim quilts.

Which brings me to Collis Country Quilting. When I wrote about all of my unfinished quilts, she made a comment to me about getting them done. Seems that she is in the vicinity of Kansas City, but still a little ways south. She is relatively new to her long arm, and after a year of practice of her own and family members… she was ready to take on more customers.

I picked out two quilts and shipped them off to Becky. She is great about communicating, she let me know that she had received them. And she sent me updates as she worked on them. This was sent when the quilt was on the frame:

01e3684c08dfadb21006aac0c79acd2e76cc634943Next was the photo of the quilt finished. There is just some magical about the transformation of a quilt once the quilting is done.IMG_0049Yesterday, I finally got to completing the binding. It came together easily. Finished in about an hour or so, and considering just how big this quilt is, that’s quick!

It was returned and then rested for a while on the guest bedroom bed. You can get a glimpse of the quilting pattern here:

2015-04-06 14.55.36I’m guessing about a full sized quilt, albeit an extra long one. It is a simple quilt, just plain ol’ pinwheels around a larger pinwheel medallion in the center.2015-04-06 14.55.08So, a few more shots of the quilt and its quilting:

2015-04-07 13.38.032015-04-07 13.39.16Here you can see the quilting on the center medallion: 2015-04-06 14.55.44I used the same material in the medallion as well as the edge setting triangles and the backing. I love the way this quilt turned out!

2015-04-07 13.39.25If you’re interested in contacting Becky, you can reach here on her Facebook page: Collis Country Quilting. She can also be reached via email at: rebecca_collis@yahoo.com.

I have one more to get done and then I am caught up. At least in the quilts department! I’ve have a few things in the garage that are calling for attention, though.

julie

Celebrating My 200th Post (And a Whole Cloth Quilt)

MacCupcake200thThis posting makes a grand total of 200! Who would have guessed that when I started chatting with people all over the world about the wonders of crafting and sewing that I would last this long.

I have been wanting to make some visual changes to the blog but first I wanted to celebrate this momentous occasion. Ha! (Okay, that’s done.)

While The Kid and I were cruising Texas, we stumbled across signs for an estate sale that had just started. Outside of Corpus Christi (if I recall correctly). If you know about me and The Kid, you know that we love just that sort of thing. Of course we went.

Was the cutest little house you could imagine. I mean tiny. If I had to guess, I would say the whole house couldn’t have had more than 500 square feet. And I doubt it was that big though. From all appearances and overheard conversations, it was an older woman, probably a widow, who lived in the home. Lots of wonderful knickknacks and very high quality furniture. In fact, everything I saw was the highest quality – from the dishes in the kitchen to the rugs in the living room and everything in between.

Squeezing into a closet between the bathroom and the bedroom, I came across three quilts folded on a shelf. One quilt was  quite new in a Sunbonnet Sue pattern. The other was a typical 2″ square patchwork that had obviously been used. It piqued my interest, but at the same time I spotted the third quilt. A soft yellow backing, I kept turning back corners trying to uncover the pattern. It took a while, but it finally dawned on me that it didn’t have a pattern, that it was a whole cloth quilt.

It was big and had a big price tag. But I knew that I had to have it. I did negotiate a little discount, but even if they hadn’t been open to me making an offer, I would have paid full price.

DSCN3131

It looks like it had been folded and sitting on that shelf for quite a while. I am going to have to figure out how to encourage those creases out.

The more I look at it, the more I am coming to believe that it has machine quilting – I had hope for a hand quilted cloth. But the machine stitch is whimsical and of high quality and I have been using it on my bed and boy oh boy, is it warm. It is very large, probably a king sized quilt and is the same cloth for front and back and the binding.

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Isn’t the color awesome? Reminds me of buttercream frosting.

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The motif is leaves and feathers, and repeats about every 20 – 25 inches. Beautiful, isn’t it? Just beautiful.

DSCN3132

I’d like to think that someday I will hand quilt a whole cloth quilt for myself. Its not as far fetched as I might like to think… I have so many quilt tops finished, then quilted and more that need to just be finished that I probably shouldn’t start anything new for a longggg time! LOL

julie

 

 

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