7/30/15

Seams to be Working

Yesterday afternoon, I started sewing together the remaining 76 flying geese into four borders of 19 geese each. I was chain piecing all four borders to make the job go faster. First, however, I needed to tackle this problem of too-narrow seam allowances resulting in too-long strips of blocks because those multi-seamed borders are going to be attached to seamless sashings. There will be no forgiving spacers as there were with the previous Vintage Tin strips.

The first thing I noticed is that if I line up the edge of my fabric with the edge of my foot, there is about 1/16th of an inch difference between the foot measurement and the hash mark on the throat plate.


My previous strips were made up of no less than five friendship stars each, and so I'm estimating at at least 16 seams just for the friendship stars. Then there were more seams in the strip to boot. It's easy to see how my strips ended up a full two inches longer than they should have been.



With that in mind, I'm going to need to train myself to use the hash mark as a guide, rather than watching the quarter-inch foot.

Vicki W. made the excellent suggestion of measuring the sewn piece rather than measuring the seam allowance. As I sewed each successive goose to the four strips, I measured them to see how things were going. By watching the hash mark, my pieces were ending up pretty much spot on. The first group should have been 6 1/2 inches wide.


The next needed to be 9 1/2 inches wide.


And the next needed to be 12.5 inches wide.


And they continued to be pretty consistent. When I'd sewed six geese to each strip, I decided to break and make new strips. I'll sew them together when I've used up all the individual geese. It's just easier for me to work with them when they aren't too long and start twisting and tangling. And, honestly, what can you expect when you're trying to tame geese that want to fly around the room honking.


When I had two groups of four strips, each with six geese, I needed to stop for the day. I'll sew the next 28 into four strips of seven each, and then sew the lengths together. I'll still need to add a pieced crossroads block to the end of two of the strips, and then my borders will be finished. All I'll need then is for that sashing fabric to arrive. This morning I received a notification that it would be delivered tomorrow.

As I mentioned yesterday, we took our mechanically-ill-behaving boat out on the river yesterday, hoping it would run right. I'm happy to say that it did. The engine was "missing" when we first started. Our goal was to run it up and down the river at a relatively high speed. By the end of the evening, it was running like its old self. 

We found a shady spot in the river (because the sun was intense, even at the end of the day) and tied up to a snag.


Then we feasted on chilled cucumber-avocado soup, shrimp cocktail, olive bread, and a bottle of rose. Nice. (You can find links to the recipes in yesterday's post.)


Our boat has a little table we can set up for lunch and dinner cruises. We don't use it often, but it's nice to have it.

It started getting dark, and so we headed back to the launch ramp. The nearly-full moon was rising and the golden light of the afternoon made the river beautiful.


And that was our evening. Fun.

Today I'm getting my monthly pedicure and then I'm returning a birdbath like the one you see in the image below.


It was purchased just a couple of months ago. It is constructed of bamboo, and it isn't holding up at all. Where the wires attach, it has broken, and the underwater surface is beginning to bubble up. Obviously it isn't up to the job for which it is intended. I'm hoping they'll exchange it for something else. After that, I can get back to my sewing.

7/29/15

Cocktail Cruise

We're promised warm weather through the end of the week at least. It isn't too bad today.


It's 81°F. at our house right now, and I'm resisting turning on the A/C. The windows are open and there's still a nice breeze blowing, keeping it comfortable, if not cool.

Last night was lovely, and we sat outside with the kitties for a while. Smitty is always on the hunt for furry mammals.


Gracie, on the other hand, has apparently gone vegan. She continues grazing on the grass while a gopher digs right next to her.


Miss Gracie would like to remind all the lady cats that a lady cat always keeps her paws together.


Smitty took an interest in our trailing evergreen tree, as he does from time to time. What I'm calling a "trailing evergreen" is like any other evergreen, only think of it as more of a vine. It grows up out of the ground about two feet, then falls over and crawls across the ground.


As we watched, this guy popped out of the uppermost part of the tree. He's been living under the tree for at least two seasons. He's big and fat, obviously making a good living off the peanuts and sunflower seeds under the bird feeders.


Moments later, Smitty came over the top and tried to grab him, but the squirrel was too quick. Curses!


The squirrel grows more and more bold in his wanderings. Smitty will have him for lunch one of these days. For now, they continue, and it gives Smitty something to think about. It also keeps him up close to the house.

While we were outside, Mike suggested we try to take the boat out again. We've been having mechanical problems. When we took it out last week, it was making a noise Mike didn't like. He felt as if he'd exhausted his diagnostic capabilities and so he took it to a boat mechanic who pronounced it sound (no pun intended). He told us it probably had bad gas from sitting through the winter. Mike had dealt with the old gas, and put some kind of cleaner in. The boat mechanic felt the boat just needed to be run up and down the river for a while and stated confidently the noise would go away. (I'm probably not explaining this very well, but I listen to these "man things" with only one ear.) So all of that to say that we're taking the boat out tonight for a cocktail cruise.

This morning I went out for a short grocery trip and came home to make up a cold dinner for our boat outing. We're taking along a bottle of wine and I made some chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Tomato and Basil Salad.

This is something I've made before, and Mike really likes it. It's served cold with a sprinkling of crispy crumbled prosciutto. Of course I'm always happy for a recipe that uses some of my CSA veggies. This one used two cucumbers, some of the sweet onion, some of the basil, and one of the tomatoes. I added seasonings, an avocado, and some buttermilk, pureed it in the blender, and Voila! Dinner is served.

It's a very light dinner, however, with practically nothing but vegetables, and so I picked up a bag of frozen cooked shrimp and made up some cocktail sauce. I like The Barefoot Contessa's recipe for the cocktail sauce.



It's simple to make and delicious. We like lots of horseradish in ours...enough to knock our heads off if we get too much. We call it "The Cruel Food".

Also, I picked up a loaf of rustic olive bread at the grocery store to give us something crunchy. And with that our boat picnic is ready to go! It should be fun. Mid-week, there is almost no one on the river, so it should be a good time.

Aside from that, I have a little bit of housework to do, and then I'll get back to sewing my flying geese together. I'm looking forward to a good day, and I hope you're doing likewise.

7/28/15

Allowing for Allowances

This morning I had a little bitty finish. The last of the quilts for the quilting snowladies is finished.


It always feels like a little milestone when the quilt is finished on these stitcheries, even though there's still plenty of stitching left to be done. I think it's important to celebrate these little micro-finishes, don't you?

After that I went into the sewing room to continue working on the Vintage Tin quilt. I'm quickly bumping up against the limits of what I can finish until my sashing fabric comes on Friday. Still, I was able to sew together the row of friendship stars, half-square triangles and one mismatched flying geese that go below the oil can stitchery. You can see it in the picture from the pattern cover here:


When I sewed all the pieces together, the strip ended up two inches longer than it should have been. This was disconcerting, to say the least. My blocks were trimmed, and my points were good. 


Certainly, I didn't want to trim so much from the friendship stars that I wouldn't have enough seam allowance to have nice sharp points. Nevertheless, when I sewed it to the bottom of the stitchery as instructed, it ended up looking more like a ruffle than it should have. Too, too wavy.


Maybe it isn't obvious in this picture, but trust me. It was going to cause me problems if I left it that way. It occurred to me that the pattern could be wrong, and so I even calculated out the width of the pieces and subtracted the seam allowances. It should have worked out right, and so I can only assume my seam allowances are off, even though I'm sewing with a quarter-inch foot. 

Well shoot...or something. It seemed like a good time to leave the room. 

Briefly, I considered throwing a tantrum, but there was no one around to watch. Oh well. It was a beautiful day, and so I went outside and cut the dead blossoms off the sunflowers. They are still blooming away. This one below is one of the late bloomers. Some of the flowers look similar from plant to plant, but they differ in size. 




While I was doing that, I looked across the field and saw that even Miss Gracie had come outside...something she rarely does. She's kind of a scaredy cat. She's looking off in the woods there with great suspicion.


I just kept up with my sunflowers. They were making me feel better about my sewing.



That one above is another one of the late bloomers. 

Then I checked on the tomatoes. Some of them are getting to a good size now. These are Super Marzanoes...very meaty and nearly seedless. They are a funny-looking tomato, but they are wonderful for sauce.


One of them is starting to turn red! It's the first one. I suspect it won't be long now before I have enough to start canning.


The tomatoes have not been very productive this year, and I'm probably going to have to purchase more at the farmer's market to make my quota of pasta sauce, salsa, and chutney. That's okay. I usually do. Nevertheless, Mike and I have puzzled over this and come to the conclusion that it's been too hot for them this year. Mine are grown in the greenhouse to accommodate our too-short growing season. They ripen faster in the greenhouse, but in hot weather, it is even hotter in the greenhouse. We leave the windows and doors open, but it's still substantially warmer. Our June was the hottest I've ever seen in Oregon, and I think the tomatoes are stressed because of it. Such is life, I guess.

The cherry tomato is loaded with tomatoes now, and many have ripened. Mike and I swipe them off the plant and pop them into our mouths as we walk by. I suppose if we left them alone, we could use them in a salad or something. They're just so sweet and good, it's hard not to eat them as quickly as they ripen.


Both Gracie and Smitty kept me company while I walked around, but Gracie was feeling the most like posing for her picture.


Gracie's advice to the lady cats: Never sit in the sun since it will make wrinkles in your furs and cause you to age purrmaturely.


So, I enjoyed a Mike's Lemonade while I was out, and then I felt ready to go back and tackle this sewing problem. It occurred to me that the strip had two spacers in it, and that I could probably shorten it to the correct length if I removed those spacers. It won't hurt the design at all. You can see the spacers in the pattern in the image below:


Each one in the upper strip added an inch to the length of the whole strip. I unsewed it from my stitchery, removed those two spacers, and then, it was almost precisely the correct length. No harm done, and I'll be happier to work with it this way. 


That brought me to the problem of the lower strip, which included three spacers. I sewed it together with the spacers and then measured it.


It was supposed to be 24-1/2 inches long, and you can see that mine it a little more than an inch too long.


So I removed one of the three spacers...the one on the left:


And then measured it again. Perfect.


When I stopped to write this post, I was ready to start sewing together the flying geese to make the four borders of the quilt. I'm measuring them carefully and trimming where I need to. I'm seriously hoping I won't have similar problems with them. I'll be watching my seam allowances like a hawk.

7/27/15

A Gaggle of Geese

When I left off yesterday, I had about half of the rectangles and squares cut for 78 flying geese. By then, I was very tired of cutting, and I decided to quit for the day. When I came into the sewing room this morning, I still had some cutting to do to cut 78 rectangles, and 156 squares. As I was cutting, I put the rectangles in the box on the left, and the squares in the box on the right.


Then, I lidded both boxes and gave them a good shake to mix up the pieces pretty well. I wanted to sew them back together scrappy.


About an hour later, I had 78 one-winged geese.


It was only then that I took another look at the picture on the pattern and realized that the right and left sides of the flying geese were supposed to match. Oy.


For a while I considered whether this was important or not, and then decided to go ahead trying to match them as much as possible. Some of my fabrics were used up, while I still had enough of others to cut a matching side if I needed to. In some cases, I just matched value and design as closely as I could. In the end, only 10 of the 78 ended up mismatched, and of those, only 2 were mismatched enough to be noticeable. Surely the quilt police will forgive me this transgression.



After I'd ironed them open, I had my 78 flying geese. Phew!


Let me tell you, that's a whole lotta cuttin' n' sewin' right there.

Tomorrow I'll start sewing the pieced blocks together into strips. I'll have to wait for the sashing fabric, scheduled to arrive on Friday, before I can finish off the top. Things are moving along, and I'm getting excited to see this quilt top finished. This project was started on July 15, 2013. I worked on some of the embroidery while I sat with Mike who was hospitalized for ten days in October of 2013. It has a history, and soon it will be history.

7/26/15

Piece By Piece

It's been all sewing all the time so far this weekend. It's also been raining, and we badly need the moisture. Rain is the best excuse I know for staying inside and locking myself in the sewing room. There are no doors on my sewing room, and so the "locking" is only figurative, but you know what I mean.

Yesterday I spent practically the entire day...literally hours and hours...making just two 9-1/2 inch blocks. Oy boy. What a pain in the neck. I'm glad there are only two of these because they were among the most complicated blocks I've ever sewn together. They are made up of 20 triangles.


They're called "Devil's Claws". Indeed.


The name had me a little curious, and so I checked Quilter's Cache and found a completely different block with that same name. So then I went to the quilt block bible, 5500 Quilt Block Designs by Maggie Malone.


Sure enough, there it was:


It has several different names. I like this little quilt block trivia, don't you?


After that, I got into a bit of a kerfuffle over ownership of the chair. There was still piecing to do, but when I turned to my sewing chair...


What do you mean this is *your* chair. I have it on good authority that purrsession is nine-tenths of the law. Now, excuse me while I attend to my purrsonal hygiene.



Would you mind not taking pictures of me while I'm bathing? Sheesh. Purrivacy, please.


Go ahead with what you're doing...I'm going to take a nap.


Sigh. I showed him the figurative door after that.

Then I got to work sewing seven half square triangles. These finish at 3-1/2 inches. That went pretty quick.



Then I cut gobs of these 1-1/2 inch squares to make 11 friendship stars. There are 143 of these.


After I had those cut, my brain was pretty much mush. We took the night off and went to see Minions, which was very cute and mindless fun.

This morning I got to work sewing those friendship stars together in groups of fours and three.


They don't want to lie flat for their picture very well.



And then I sat down here to write this post. Before I finish up today, I want to do the cutting for my 78 flying geese. Yes, 78. I think the cutting will probably take longer than the sewing. When those are finished, all the pieced blocks will be finished. I can start sewing them into rows, but I won't be able to finish the whole quilt until my sashing fabric comes on Friday.

This piecing has been a little tedious, but I'm feeling good about having so much done. I should be able to have this finished up by the end of next weekend, I believe.