Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 Starting Fresh

It's been ages since I've settled in here to write...but yep...the old girl is still alive!  I spent all of November and December trying to find time, energy and less eyestrain, to play in my sewing no avail.  Not only were those months filled with Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations, it has also been very busy at work, and since the girl I job share with has been out for the past several weeks, I've been spending more "quality time" with my co workers, than in my sewing room.

With the holidays behind us and the brand spankin' new year upon us, I did sit down at my sewing machine last weekend.  I lifted the lid, removed the purple thread that I used to make the last of three Halloween capes that I made for my daughter and her friends and swiped away some fuzz & dust.  Not thoroughly enough, I discovered, after closer inspection of these photos!  
Next, I decided I'd better pull out my little brush and dismantle my bobbin case and do a good clean out.  First of all, when I take my bobbin case assembly out, I lay in out according to the order and orientation it should return in.  No point in confusing this menopausal brain any more than it already is!  Right?
Secondly, I remember what I was told in my machine orientation class.  Never blow into the interior of my machine because my breath contains moisture that could damage my machines internal parts. 
Oh, how I struggle to stifle that temptation!
After sewing the 3 big crushed velvet-ish capes for The Sanderson Sisters,
 there was some nesting material available in the recesses of my machine.  It almost amazes me that a little mouse hadn't taken up residence in there for the winter! 
Don't be afraid to get in there and get a little personal with all those little fuzz collecting caverns!
   While I was at it...I gave her a new needle too...then decided to check my 1/4" seam allowances before setting forth on my new adventure.  Out came some scraps that I cut into two 1.5 inch squares and sewed them together...and then pulled the thread out, pressed, adjusted my needle position and re-sewed them together until my two squares measured a perfect 2.5 inches when sewn and pressed.
And I did my beleaguered brain another favor and attached the pertinent information to the front of my machine with a little sticky note. 
(Note to self, clean the camera lens before next photo shoot...that blurry spot was on every picture!)
Even with this seam check, be prepared to make adjustments.  The blocks I started making needed a narrower seam allowance on the top section and a more generous seam allowance on the bottom section to get them to the correct block measurement!
My first machine project of the year has lots of triangles and they don't match the angle of any plastic template in my collection, or any that I looked at that weren't already in my collection.  The idea of making a template from plastic and cutting and marking individual triangles the old fashioned way for this fun little "walk in the park" project was making me twitch a I decided it was time to roll out the freezer paper!
I transferred the pattern to paper by laying it over the pattern and making a little dot at the point of each triangle.  Then used my ruler to connect the dots.  Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy!
This is a scrappy project, so, here we are layering up all the little bits and pieces of "the right" green I could scrounge up and ironing the template to the smallest scrap to make layering easier to visualize!  Notice that I cut the template out just outside the cutting line so I could lay my ruler on there, and slice right through, once I determined that a fresh rotary blade would be more successful that the one that was used on the capes which was trying to chew its way through the layers.
Ahh...cutting with a new rotary blade!  "It's like Buttah!"
Now, I don't think I ever got around to sharing with you that, when we traveled to Livermore and attended the Quilting In The Garden Show at Alden Lane Nursery in September, we got to meet Sally Collins briefly.  I was not only impressed, inspired, in-awe of this sweet, sweet woman's precision and amazing color sense.  I was moved...I was literally "Verklempt" when we left the exhibit and could barely speak.  The beautiful crispness of her works are what I aspire to.  I had watched her episode on The Quilt Show, and what resonated with me was that, while chain piecing is wonderful, we have a tendency to be in too big a hurry and allow the end of each set to kind of run astray a little as we are preparing to send the next pair of blocks under the presser foot.  GUILTY!
What I took with me from that show is to slow down a little, stay with that seam, right to the bitter end, and to butt my next set right up to the needle as I insert them under the presser foot!  The time I spend ushering every bit of fabric under my needle now, will save me time in ripping out seams later.
If you don't start with precision at the beginning, with your cutting, and initial seams, you can't expect to achieve precision in the end.
This is the reason, that I have in the past year, abandoned a 1/4" foot in favor of moving my needle.  I observed that those little lightweight metal guides on my 1/4" feet tended to splay out a bit when the presser foot was dropped and that I was also relying on them too heavily by snugging my fabric right up to them.  One thread too many in my seam allowance is actually two threads too many when you're sewing together 2 pieces of fabric, and sew on and sew forth?
Then off to press.  I am trying to remember to set my seams by first pressing them as sewn, prior to opening them up for the "official" press.
 Then I pressed to the dark side.  Bwah-Ha-Ha!
 And I carefully clipped off my pointy bits.  (Quilt Sue! Are you proud?)
Whoops!  I see a little dipsy in that seam near the point!  Do you?
Yep!  Out it came!  Back to the machine for a quick fix!
Just look how excited my snowmen are over their top edges meeting in a nice continuous line!
 Perfect!  Right?????
 Not so fast there, Girly-Girl!
TEST BLOCKS!  A single test block at the beginning is a good thing!  It can save you so much time to make a test block to see how the thing is going to go together!
Look at how many layers of fabric there are all converging at that single little pointy-point!
That's a wobble, a bump, a wonky seam in the making and...maybe I'd like to have my quilters longarm machine like me a little more after some of the other crazy seams I've had her navigate for me!
 Embrace your seam ripper!  She is your friend, not an instrument of torture!
All I had to do was remove just that little bit, then return to the iron.
and press that first seam open.
Then put that little section of ripping back in place, resew,
and repress.
All this for a quilt that's not going to be heirloom or museum quality?
Well, yeah.  Because if I'm going to invest this much time and expense to make something, why not give it your best effort?  Because it's going to be somebody's, and that somebody and this quilt deserve the best I have to give...and who knows who might look and it and be reminded that I loved them so much that I shared this part of me with them. 
Once all is said and done, sharing of oneself and ones passion, is the best heirloom we have to give.
Just a tiny bit of seam adjustment &squaring up with that pesky lower section and we're good to go!
A Little Belatedly,
Happy New Year, My Friends!
May We All Start Fresh.
~Nancie Anne

PS- Please join me in sending up warm thoughts and prayers for Lynn Wilder's sweet sister, Gail, while she is caring for her husbands health needs, and to Sue Abrey, aka HRH Quilt Sue, as she is caring for her father and her husband who are both experiencing difficulty with their health.  Like many of you, I love these women to pieces!



  1. So good to hear from you!! I was just thinking of you yesterday as I was ripping out the quilting that I did on a quilt. It wasn't so pretty, and I couldn't stand it, so I spent a few hours on the floor building up a nice little pile of thread! Hence my thoughts of you and wondering how you stuck with your un-sewing project for a whole quilt!!! Glad to know you're still kicking around, and that you finally got to do a little sewing!! :-) I saw Sally Collins work too at Quilts in the Garden: it was amazing, wasn't it?!! And Lynn just let me know about Gail's husband: I hope she'll let me go and see her. She's such a dear person and I hate to think of her bearing this alone. You take care and have a great new year!! Hug, Helen

  2. Good to see you've remembered the importance of your pointy bits Nancy. You're right too, sometimes we're in too much of a hurry and something has to give, either the accuracy or the enjoyment, or even both.

    Thanks for the good wishes too. xx

  3. I like the little snowman print fabric that you used.

  4. Nice to have you back! Enjoyed those close-up photos and the details of piecing those pretty trees!